DevOps is a notoriously difficult concept to understand. The wealth of misinformation that surrounds the topic has made distinguishing between fact and fiction a challenge and made navigation through the profusion of poor literature a tedious pursuit.
In recent months, I have spent time discussing DevOps with everyone from CEOs to marketing professionals and have found myself routinely answering the same queries. In answer to this phenomenon, I've created this FAQ to provide professionals with the answers to commonly asked questions.
CEO: "DevOps only applies to the technical guys in the IT department, Doesn’t it?"
Although DevOps implementation is frequently owned by the IT department, its culture must be embraced company-wide. For businesses to be competitive and take full advantage of DevOps benefits, the CEO, the heads of department, and the development and operations teams must all collaborate.
The ultimate goal of DevOps is to enable an organisation to be competitive in a Digital Transformation era. DevOps is vital for business stakeholders and needs their buy-in and support to succeed. True DevOps is not achievable unless it is implemented throughout an entire organisation.
The myth that DevOps only concerns IT professionals has been perpetuated by the fact that some IT professionals now regard themselves as DevOps experts. This has led to confusion and misunderstanding of what DevOps really is and created the illusion that it is a concern of the IT department only..
Head of Marketing: "Our management doesn’t really understand or support DevOps. What can I do?"
One of the greatest threats to DevOps implementation is misunderstanding. If key-decision makers do not have a broad appreciation of the subject, it can prove difficult to implement an end-to-end solution. To help managers understand, it's important that a business approach is taken – simply providing information about DevOps tools is not enough. Better to adopt the mindset of the manager, focus on the business-benefits, and really drill home the value of an end-to-end solution.
Albert Einstein once remarked that: “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
For DevOps to succeed it first needs to be understood. Shedding the myths and truly grasping its end-to-end nature is the only way to make DevOps a reality for your organisation. What managers need to understand is that "at its core, DevOps isn't a thing, it's a way of working". Therefore, people management is key in aligning your organisation's culture to a DevOps methodology.
"But what if they want concrete examples of the business benefits of DevOps?"
Faster Time-to-Market – DevOps reduces the time between market demand emerging and the ability of a business to respond to that demand. From faster development and more frequent development cycles to shortened time between fixes and faster recovery in the event of an issue, increasing the deployment frequency also enables fast experimentation.
Better Quality – The predictability that is maximised by DevOps enables teams to provide more reliable products with lower failure rates.
Cost Savings – Achieved by automating manual activities, integrating different tools and processes, improving productivity and efficiency, and rationalising the tool. The cost of maintaining releases, and the related operational processes, is reduced as well.
Compliance – DevOps facilitates compliance by enabling audit, traceability and increased security throughout the development, delivery, and operation processes.
Customer Experience – Benefits such as faster deployment, quicker bug fixing, and more reliable products aren't just beneficial for the company – they also make for a far smoother customer experience.
Head of Development: "We are using Jira (and/or Maven, Jenkins, etc.) so we’re already doing DevOps – Aren’t we?"
DevOps spans all stages of the development lifecycle. While there are useful tools available (such as Maven, Jenkins, and GitHub) that can help support a DevOps environment, increase time-to-market, and create cost-savings, these tools themselves are purely focussed on development and not operations.
A recent trend has emerged of prestigious or well-known vendors leveraging their brand to position a suite of DevOps tools. Often this suite is just the product of the acquisition of many tools – some of which may not have even been built with DevOps in mind – and there is no technical advantage to adopting them.
This is only adding fuel to the fire in terms of misbranding, and making it even more difficult to nail down what DevOps really is. It is critical to understand that unless it is an end-to-end solution, it cannot be considered a DevOps solution.
Head of Operations: "We are using Puppet (and/or Ansible, Docker, etc) so we’re already doing DevOps – Aren’t we?"
As above, for a solution to be called DevOps it must be implemented throughout all stages of the development lifecycle. Using tools like Chef, Puppet, and Ansible, which support IT infrastructure provisioning and configuration activities, is valuable. But they are limited to the operations side of the project and have limited impact on development.
The ecosystem of DevOps tools can seem complex or confusing, because many vendors are trying to position their software and tools as providing a full DevOps solution. Though it is true that some tools can aid with the implementation of DevOps throughout an organisation, unless these tools extend throughout the devlopment lifecycle, including operations and devlopment, they are not a DevOps solution.
Small Business Owners: "WE ARE A SMALL ORGANISATION – SURELY DEVOPS ISN'T COST EFFECTIVE FOR US?"
It is commonly held myth that smaller organisations cannot afford to implement DevOps. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it is often more beneficial for smaller organisations to adopt a DevOps solution as it enables them to be more competitive and scale up easily as they grow. What’s more, DevOps doesn’t require any complex or large investments, so cost-effectiveness is not an issue.
DevOps is beneficial for both small and large organisations. Within larger enterprises it's important to be aware that separate departments may try to implement DevOps on their own, creating a fragmented landscape. Smaller organisations, by contrast, can actually implement DevOps more easily within their core business structure, before choosing to roll out to the wider parts of the business. This means that benefits are achieved much faster, making it a more cost-effective solution.
CIO: "DevOps doesn’t support our legacy infrastructure – So why would it be on the roadmap for our new cloud-native apps programme?"
DevOps is often regarded as a modern concept that helps forward-thinking businesses innovate. Although this is true, it can also help those organisations with long-established, standard IT practices and infrastructure in place. In fact, with legacy applications there are usually big advantages to DevOps adoption. Appropriate DevOps software can blend the stability of legacy systems with the agility of new software releases to create a fast yet reliable application distribution service.
Managing legacy care and bringing new software to market quickly – blending stability and agility – is a frequently encountered problem. But with DevOps benefits can be achieved, even with legacy systems, when using the appropriate software. At VASSIT we recommend our partner Clarive as an ideal software provider – they can facilitate legacy software integration as part of a DevOps solution to ensure a smooth transition.
Project Managers: "We don't use agile – so why would we need DevOps?"
Although DevOps and agile are terms frequently used together, they arenot synonymous. DevOps processes can complement agile development, but DevOps is not reliant on agile and can support a range of operation models.
The key distinction between agile and DevOps is that agile is a method of software delivery, whereas DevOps refers to a culture that, when adopted, results in many business benefits.
Operation models that DevOps can support include:
Waterfall – whereby build processes can be optimised and accelerated, and automation can be implemented.
Agile – whereby heightened communication between development and operations increases end-product quality.
Hybrid approach – whereby speed, quality and compliance are all increased.
Board Members: "DevOps is an interesting concept – But surely there is simply no way to Attain it."
The misconception that 'true DevOps' is unattainable is a frequently held myth. DevOps is an achievable reality which provides numerous benefits and can act as the catalyst to accelerate your organisation's digital transformation journey and drive cloud adoption forward.
many people think DevOps is too good to be true – that if it could really deliver on its promises then far more organisations would be reaping the benefits of adoption. At VASSIT we have many customers who have learnt to embrace the DevOps culture and have been able to overcome complex challenges to deliver higher-quality products faster and more cheaply.
We have learnt first hand what is required to ensure that DevOps adoption is as streamlined as possible. Don't just take our word for it though, learn how we helped TSB manage their end-to-end release management process by coordinating current tools and filling the gaps in their existing systems by downloading our case study.