Do you ever get the impression that everyone is talking about DevOps?
There are few significant products or services left on the planet that don’t rely on software in some form. Expectations are always evolving, with many developers now facing demand for multiple code updates daily. While developers need little motivation to release more code and work on new features, this level of demand leaves operations staff struggling to keep up without sacrificing the quality and reliability of the code.
DevOps is a set of cultural principles that can be applied to software pipelines. It demolishes siloes between development and operations teams, combining them under a single umbrella while emphasizing automation and continuous testing to enhance the speed and reliability of processes throughout. It also establishes joint responsibility for all ‘DevOps engineers’, encouraging collaboration and communication to achieve targets.
However, unlike frameworks like ITIL 4 and COBIT 2019, DevOps is relatively flexible in what it teaches. There is no sole DevOps methodology, nor is there a prescriptive DevOps approach. Instead, DevOps engineers will follow the general pillars of the approach and create ‘DevOps cultures’ with structures suited to their own specific organizations.
This can be difficult at first, and many practitioners need help easing into the mindset to enable a permanent cultural shift. So, what do managers and senior DevOps engineers need to focus on when establishing and developing DevOps cultural mindsets?
Emphasize end-to-end responsibility
The traditional software setup had developers creating code and handing it over to operations staff, who would handle deployment. Teams had their own siloed targets, and there was little communication between them. This, naturally, created a knowledge gap; one compounded by developers working to create and release code as quickly as possible.
In a new DevOps culture, this kind of setup cannot survive. DevOps environments have development and operations staff share responsibility for meeting targets. They must become aware of concerns outside of their own expertise and will often apply their own skills and mindset to problems found elsewhere in the pipeline. If a target needs to be met, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the pipeline is doing all it can.
The name ‘DevOps’ reflects the literal combination of development and operations in a shared environment. Managers must work to establish clear lines of communication between them, as well as having teams collaborate throughout each pipeline stage. Creating and clarifying this new structure early on will be important for facilitating the DevOps approach.
As part of this, managers will often ask DevOps engineers to upskill other teams. They may create workshops or run regular simulations to ensure real problems can be dealt with quickly. Teams will also be empowered to help with problems found at different pipeline stages, such as by applying a developer’s mindset to operational issues.
While DevOps can take different shapes, there are a few elements that are always present, with one of the most crucial being automation. Automating manual processes enhances the speed of pipeline processes while also making them more reliable. This rule will be applied wherever possible and is key to Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD).
The resulting speed offers a significant competitive advantage, especially as it does not require practitioners to sacrifice quality or reliability. No matter how skilled your engineers may be, utilizing automation tools – or creating them from the ground up – will leave you capable of designing, creating, and deploying software far more rapidly.
Just because a DevOps culture ‘works’ doesn’t make it perfect. Senior engineers should remain aware of changing circumstances, as well as upcoming challenges and new opportunities, which may reshape the culture. They may need to adapt in the face of new legislation or changing customer expectations, or they may find new ways to get a significant leg up on the competition. Once again, this applies throughout the DevOps pipeline, and all DevOps engineers should feel empowered to suggest new tools, processes, technology, and so on.
Part of the driving force behind this is understanding business-related KPIs. Several software-focused metrics impact the bottom line, such as downtime, costs, and mean time to deployment. Luckily, most of these KPIs are universally relevant to DevOps cultures. Practitioners spend a great deal of time discussing potential improvements, as well as creating new resources like blogs and webinars to help other engineers instigate positive change.
Start embracing failure
One of the consistent rules for DevOps cultures is the importance of acknowledging failure as inevitable. DevOps engineers work in an environment where they have the autonomy to continually suggest and test improvements, not all of which will succeed.
When this happens, the key is to document the failure and take as many lessons as possible. There can be a significant learning curve, especially when a culture has only recently been established, but by reassuring engineers and giving them the power to fail, cultures are far more likely to enjoy ongoing improvements.
Make the new setup clear
As we have said, DevOps cultures can take a lot of different forms. It is not some prescriptive methodology, after all. However, that doesn’t mean that YOUR DevOps culture shouldn’t be well-defined.
From the beginning, managers and senior engineers will need to communicate with the team as the setup is solidified. This will mean meetings, meetings, and more meetings, with new lines of communications and clarified roles and responsibilities helping everyone to ease into the new status quo. That is not to say that the new setup should be completely static, of course, as practitioners should be prepared to revisit this kind of setup every so often.
Working in a DevOps culture for the first time isn’t always easy, especially for those unfamiliar with DevOps as a concept. One of the best ways around this is to invest in DevOps training. As we said, a DevOps engineer can have any number of skills or backgrounds, with DevOps itself being what unites them. While DevOps can be learned on the go, it is far more efficient for a practitioner organization to invest in team training.
Good e-Learning is an award-winning online training provider, as well as a Trusted Education Partner for the DevOps Institute. We create DevOps, DevSecOps, and SRE courses with help from highly experienced DevOps engineers. This allows us to offer practical insight that not only helps students pass exams but also equips them to begin actively applying their training in practice.
Our courses come with a variety of engaging online training tools, including instructor-led videos, regular knowledge checks, practice exam simulators, and more. Our courses can be accessed on any web-enabled device thanks to the Go.Learn app, and students can even enjoy free exam vouchers as well as resits via Exam Pledge.