Ever thought what companies like Google, Amazon, Netflix and Walmart have in common apart from the obvious fact that these are highly successful companies? Well, all the above mentioned companies are weaved by a common thread known as DevOps.
Let’s follow a hypothetical example for our understanding. An IT company has received a project to develop AI enabled musical robots. As per precedence the project manager (PM) delegated the task of development to three developers, call it team D whose primary job is to write and execute the code.
Likewise team O which consists of two operations staff with the primary responsibility to maintain the infrastructure that aids in the operation of the robots in the real world. In a matter of six months team D was successful in creating a robot that can recognize people, take commands from Alexa devices and play the choicest music. As per team D that produced the robot in a control dev environment everything worked smoothly.
The picture became completely different as soon as the robot was taken to the real world, that is the customers. It soon became apparent that what was otherwise perceived to be a perfectly built robot was faltering on occasions more than one. Regular complaints started to follow which included inability to recognize everyone, capacity to follow Alexa commands and its inability to find the right track from the music library.
What followed next is the never ending blame game of both teams each blaming the other of poor development and execution.
But what do we have by this time? A product in the market that needs a lot of corrections and improvements that is likely to consume as much time as it took to develop the product in the first place.
You will definitely not want the entire software development life cycle (SDLC) go waste. This is exactly the reason why the DevOps way was created and more than 70% of small and medium businesses have already adopted it as per an MCIT report.
So what is DevOps and why should you switch to it ASAP?
In this regard it is important for us to understand the nitigrities of DevOps. We all have seen the benefits of the approach of agile operations. As proposed by Jez Humble to Ernest Mueller, “DevOps is a cross-disciplinary community of practice dedicated to the study of building, evolving and operating rapidly-changing resilient systems at scale.
DevOps does not differentiate between system administration sub-disciplines where the term of “Ops” is a blanket for system engineer, system admin, DBAs (Database Administrators), operation staff, security professionals and alike. The term, “Dev,” may not be limited in its meaning and scope to developers in particular and can include resources such as product, QA and other disciplines.
In the above example it does not require a rocket scientist to understand and conclude that, had there been simultaneous coordination among the front and back end professionals right from inception, the desired product which in this case is the robot would not have been sub-optimal.
So it brings us to the question, why should there be any challenge in implementing such a Win-Win approach to work that will not only produce high quality products but also ensure stupendous customer experience and satisfaction.
Together, let us explore some elementary challenges of DevOps implementation and find out ways to address those.
Getting Dev & Ops on the same page:
Yes, this is driven by the common human psychology that we are slaves of our habits. Both development and operations teams often find themselves in difficult terrain to form a cohesive force that will be of mutual benefit and in sync with organizational goals.
Resolve: Don’t change the team composition, build from existing assets
Changing the team composition of either Dev or Ops can be counterproductive to your end goal, that is to bring out the best out of both. Focusing on individuals and interactions in order to achieve those goals. This calls for the management to build capabilities based on the current pull off man power and infrastructure.
For example, the transition from waterfall model to agile, toolchains must be kept open so that hybrid IT environments can be supported.
Tool integration for DevOps from different domains
From the below figure it is apparent that development, testing, deployment, and all the related processes are required to be in a continuous and iterative loop. This can be difficult when you have people from different departments using dissimilar applications. This leads to a reduction in productivity when one department has to hand over work to the other with a completely different set of tools and technology.
Resolution: Apply uniform automated system for both Dev and Ops
It is no brainer that automation will reduce all those time consuming repetitive tasks such as data entry, analytical and product research. This has two fold benefits:
- Members of the Dev and Ops team can foster communication,
- While consolidating different departmental processes into one that streamlines the entire production life cycle.
Transition from legacy infrastructure to microservices
You can’t have the best of results despite having the latest technology at your disposal if they are applied on systems that are plagued with performance issues such as instability, slow loading and processing times and frequent security lapses.
Resolution: Replace with IaaS and microservices
Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for the latest hardware server and data storage solutions has proved to be a cost-effective way that can propel your business processes to the 21st century. Microservices and DevOps:
- Complement each other
- Accelerate the process of adoption and
- Fuel experimentation and innovation.
Dealing with security has its own challenges and complexities
As the old saying goes, “with big power comes big responsibilities.” The life and cycle of enterprise-wide DevOps implementation are not without serious challenges of security. On one hand you have technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality etc. which needs to be fed humongous data whereas on the other hand you have legal compliance to protect those data lest it gets in the wrong hands.
Resolution – Invest in bigger development team and and enhanced security
We’re living in times where it is easier than ever to hire dedicated development teams which have the knowledge of latest advancements in technology and can be scaled up or down as per demand and supply.
Irrespective of your size of business, you should set aside a budget for investment in security to prevent any kind of breaches and lapses. Remember a customer will choose you over your competitors only if they feel secure with you, no matter how technologically advanced you may be.
DevOps cannot function unless nurtured in an environment
In a situation where both front and back end teams i.e. Dev & Ops with varying philosophies and approaches to work are put under one roof by breaking away from their silos, it is but obvious that the environment in the organization is going to be tense until the dust settles down.
It is not in the best interest of the management to let the differences keep going endlessly.
Resolution: There is no escape but to collaborate
Top management of enterprises needs to boil it down, that DevOps implementation is more like a journey than just a transition from one phase to another. While the plan for DevOps implementation is envisaged, it should also be ensured that there are no rude awakenings. For starters DevOps tools can be implemented across fewer work teams on pilot basis and then gradually stretch the scope until the process reaches a full delivery cycle.
The way software development life cycle has evolved in the present times, implementing enterprise DevOps seems to be the most efficient approach that will enable you to outperform your competitors. Instead of watering it down to your teams one fine morning it should be implemented in a phase wise manner.
If your business is facing such enterprise implementation challenges of DevOps, get in touch with Cygnet: firstname.lastname@example.org.