As a technology leader, you have dozens of tools and initiatives to manage daily: data, cloud, budget, training, outsourcing, legacy systems, security, innovation. The list goes on.
So, why does DevOps matter and how does it fit in?
DevOps is about embracing the idea of developers and operations working together to produce better products. Committing to scaling DevOps can seem daunting, but these five steps can help you start building a successful DevOps culture today.
Start with small teams
You may have heard of the “innovator's dilemma.” It speaks to the challenge to innovate when you’re stuck in your current cycle of reality (the day-to-day grind and work deliverables). As you look to scale, removing this challenge is vital.
Start by creating a small team made up of people who have the skill sets you need to deliver value to the customer. Pull your team members out of their day-to-day grind to give them space to become the innovators you want. Don’t get hung up on the tools you might need. Decide on what you want to deliver (small goals first), and then organize your teams in order to reach these goals.
Encourage skill development
Take a look at your teams. Are they operating with a learner’s mindset? Are they willing to try something new and work with different groups? The mindset of these starting teams needs to be in the right place. To get the best of both the operations and developer worlds, encourage your teams to grow their skillsets.
DevOps is philosophical. Always keep in mind that these team members need to feel enabled before they can skill up and innovate. Create an environment where people are comfortable trying new things and making mistakes.
To have successful DevOps, there must be a positive culture between operations and developers. DevOps isn't just about delivering a product—you must work to build a rich relationship with your product and sales teams. Culture must be viewed as important as automation or testing, and the entire business needs to buy into this approach.
The hard part is getting everyone, from your teams to your customers, on board. That’s why small teams (step 1) are critical. Ask for buy-in on your delivery up front, start with a small goal that you can reach and then work on building a history of success with small releases. Your teams will grow into taking on more.
Get customer feedback as soon as possible. Monitor how they are using the system so you can incorporate how you build and change. Have your teams get as much feedback in phases until you’re confident in deploying a successful product.
If you can, separate deployment from release when possible. If you can deploy code without it being seen by the customer, or release to a specific group, then you can work towards iterated deployment by getting feedback from users and incorporating those into major releases.
Work to create test-driven development and hold everyone accountable for quality. From operations to development and everyone in between, make sure each team member is invested in a smooth deployment. Automated testing is recommended or it could become nearly impossible to have continuous delivery.
To be successful with automation, look at your process for delivery and eliminate what you can first, then look at automation. How do you deploy code? How do you monitor? How do you roll it back? Nothing catches all the bugs, but you’ll catch more with automation. When a bug is found, how you respond? Can you handle it quickly?
Work on small deployments to keep it tight and clean; use automation and you’ll have less rollbacks.
DevOps is a journey
If you are trying to start by creating a long list of deployments, your team will feel overwhelmed. Embark on scaling DevOps one step at a time. Allow your team the space they need to be truly innovative and learn from their mistakes. Get feedback after deployments and fix bugs as fast as you can––and keep the main focus on delivery. Follow these steps, and you’ll turn your teams will be operating in a DevOps-focused organization before you know it.
Ready to do more with DevOps? Get the strategies and tactics you need in our on-demand webinar here.
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