Doing DevOps right

DevOps for your SME? Four steps to a successful initiative

Oded Moshe
© Shutterstock / Farizun Amrod Saad

Doing DevOps right comes down to how it is defined for your particular business. Just keep in mind that DevOps is both a cultural and functional shift that must be undertaken carefully. In this article, Oded Moshe, VP Products at SysAid, identifies four steps that will help you reap the rewards this concept represents.

It’s taken significant time for some businesses to sort out their definition of “The Cloud” as it relates to their organization’s status and goals, and choose whether or not to implement Cloud initiatives in order to gain the competitive advantages it can offer.

Today, there’s similar buzz and internal organizational activity around “DevOps.” Its definition can range from simply a set of tools to a workflow strategy, to the formal “Continuous Delivery Pipeline” to a comprehensive collaborative approach that involves the elimination of silos and a complete reboot of company culture.

The truth is, DevOps can be all of those things. For the purpose of assessing its relevance and possible advantages for your SME, and to provide you with specific actionable steps to make it happen if you decide it’s appropriate, let’s define DevOps first by understanding why it’s gaining popularity and importance as a concept for growth in today’s technology landscape.

Step 1: Understand DevOps basics

Ironically, it comes back to the Cloud. As the Cloud trend has unfolded, many companies have moved some operations to the Cloud or have worked to provide a Cloud environment in response to client needs, and that, in turn, has made a huge change in development cycles. As an organization offers Cloud solutions in addition to on-premises, the need to support them all consistently and effectively increases the releases and updates necessary per year in terms of number and frequency, from 2-3 updates per year to 2-3 per day, in some extreme cases.

Many companies are finding that their old workflow practices and organizational frameworks, which often kept Development and Operations personnel within silos, are no longer conducive to this new whirlwind of short development cycles and numerous deployments.

That’s where DevOps comes in. It’s a literal combining of the functions of development and operations within an organization in order to streamline and facilitate their collaboration and cooperation. Ideally, it’s a fundamental change in both practices and company culture. If done correctly, a DevOps implementation helps you achieve rapid development cycles, address ever-flexing customer needs and, ultimately, stay competitive in today’s environment.

 Step 2: Decide if DevOps is right for you

Given the above definition, there are several ways to determine if undertaking a DevOps initiative is appropriate for your SME at this time.

First, take a look externally at the ecosystem within which your company competes. If it is more traditional and slower-paced, DevOps may not be the right fit. But if you are competing with industry giants that are constantly releasing new features, you need to take a serious look at DevOps now, and how it can not only help you keep up, but also stay agile and ahead.

Next, look internally to assess whether DevOps is in line with your business objectives. Adopting DevOps is not mandatory simply because your organization has a Development arm. Nor is it wise to adopt DevOps when simply tweaking your existing practices might be enough to reach your goals. What’s wisest is to clearly map out your business objectives, determine where you are in reaching them with the processes and culture you currently have in place, and then determine if a comprehensive DevOps initiative, done correctly as described below, will help you get there.

 Step 3: Address culture first, then academics.

First and foremost, implementing DevOps correctly requires addressing your company culture as it relates to Development and Operations. Do you currently have a clearly defined separation between the two or are they under the same auspices organizationally? If they function as separate entities, you must change the mindset from two teams to one. Rather than “us” and “them” thinking, there must be a shift to “we”: a joint, cooperative environment where the collective “we” work closely together to streamline fixes and increase productivity.

Melding these two teams isn’t easy; they have vastly different skill sets. Developers by nature like to work autonomously and Operations professionals are people-oriented and front-facing to clients. If Development and Operations are situated within different business units, their objectives may be fundamentally at odds, and that must be corrected. If the two teams reside in opposite ends of the building, it has literally created physical barriers to teamwork. An effort must be made to create the optimum culture and structure organizationally and physically where the two teams can work closely together, as part of their normal daily activity.

Once the cultural aspects of the shift to DevOps have been addressed, you can proceed with implementing the “academic” components: automation, continuous deployment, QA, etc. After assessing which of these is most relevant to your organization, you can determine the order of importance in adopting them.

SEE ALSO: The future of open source and DevOps

 Step 4: Realistically look at staffing and budgeting

The above transformation to successful DevOps requires the right staffing and budgeting. If you don’t have it, then determine which parts of the process you may want to delay, combine or fine-tune. If you must add staff, you’ll need to assess your budget to determine if it’s adequate, or if a request for additional funding is necessary and realistic, based on your organization’s size, revenue, etc.

Doing DevOps right comes down to how it is defined for your particular business. Just keep in mind that DevOps is both a cultural and functional shift that must be undertaken carefully – with the above steps as your actionable guide, in order to reap the rewards this concept represents.


Oded Moshe

Oded is VP Products at SysAid, with over 15 years of experience in various product and IT management positions.

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