For any DevOps initiative to be successful, there are certain tools and attitudes that are essential. First, the level of agility any company is able to achieve will have a…

The 5 musts of a Successful DevOps transformation

For any DevOps initiative to be successful, there are certain tools and attitudes that are essential. First, the level of agility any company is able to achieve will have a huge impact on the manner in which a DevOps transformation is executed. However, before any organisation can declare themselves a true DevOps shop, they must take into account the following 5 things:

1. Unity

Agreement on what DevOps is and what DevOps will mean to your organisation will be the first step to a successful implementation. Unity from every level of the company on a strategy is almost as important as the strategy itself. You must have this in place before you start along this journey. At Percipience, we believe in transparency throughout the organisation which has been of huge benefit in achieving unity.

DevOps is a cultural journey for any organisation. The collaboration of Development teams and operational staff can be a big shift in working practices. Having their cooperation from the start could either make or break the initiative. The concepts and drivers behind DevOps need to be agreed on up and down the business from IT to Operations and from the C suite down to the junior developer.

Managing expectations up and down the business is paramount to achieving unity within your organisation. Only once unity has been achieved can the detailed execution plan be mapped out.

2. Flexibility

I stole this next line because I love it… “A thorough road map is the skeleton that allows its muscular teams to flex independently toward a common goal”. This is great, although, flexibility without allegiance to the agreed unified principals will no doubt cause chaos within the ranks.

DevOps culture must be linked to key strategic business outcomes. Each DevOps team must have the trust to interpret the road map to suit each specific project or initiative they are working on. With flexibility, agility goes hand in hand. For DevOps success you must use agile principles and methodologies. However, the interpretation of how to best use agile is devolved to the individual teams themselves. Granting this trust is the empowerment given to a DevOps team to react at lightening speed and mould around the needs of the project or product.

DevOps is not a one size fits all cookie cutter approach and with that in mind, teams will need the freedom in terms of what tools they use and how they use them. The most successful DevOps teams are those free to choose the tools that suit them best. 

3. Automation

The foundation of any DevOps initiative should be an automated continuous delivery pipeline. This will add consistency and reliability to your flexible delivery methodologies. The pipeline is repeatable and as your teams mature, your pipeline will be made more efficient by rooting out all the manual processes.

Occasionally, there is a precedence within a company to have a manual control over certain processes; this inevitably slows the process down. The trust you have in application release automation can be a huge factor in how a successful your DevOps initiative is. Automation of any and every manual process is vital to speed up your DevOps pipeline. If any level of manual intervention is needed, the member of staff responsible will be notified by the automatic pipeline. Given time, manual interventions will be removed completely.

When selecting tools, it is paramount your automation solution has approved integrations to all tools DevOps teams might choose and also releases free integration to new tools quickly, so you can stay on top of the latest trends and continue to be successful.

4. Cooperation

It is likely by adopting DevOps you will be changing the structure and most probably the workload of your current employees. The successful outcome of DevOps will depend greatly on the ability to make positive change in the way team members collaborate.

It is normal to experience resistance to change through staff being accustomed to working in one particular way for a long period of time.

5. Rethink your architecture

It is not that DevOps cannot be implemented in a legacy system. However, there are elements of legacy systems that will make it harder to install full automation and continuous delivery. Often, it is the mainframe applications that are not built with a service-orientated architecture that are the issue, so its vital to understand how to adapt them to fit your strategy.

A full architectural overhaul is not necessary to ensure success with DevOps. However, clearly, this is where a business born in the cloud has the upper hand, as they are able to assemble their infrastructure from scratch.

In Summary

The key to success is helping you and your staff think through the migration process while learning how to organize around Devops processes. This typically means starting by identifying your firm’s critical applications and then removing organizational layers, simplifying roles and building product or service oriented teams around these applications. At Percipience, we will help you create a plan that shows the gap between the skills you have right now and the skills you’ll need. Most IT organizations don’t think about people and processes as much as they do about technology and tools and, in the modern world, that is the road to certain failure.

by Peter BornerPeter is the founder and Managing Partner of Percipience llp. He is an entrepreneur and successful business leader with board level experience and senior leadership roles with global firms including Sony Music, British Telecom, Liquid Audio and Axispoint. He currently holds a non executive position on the advisory board for Rise-To and is active in the third sector with Rotary and The Rotary Foundation. His expertise includes technology diligence for M&A and advising firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies, Agile and DevOps.

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