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IT leaders have always had a love and hate relationship with DevOps. An effective DevOps vertical can provide amazing speed, collaboration, and experimentation but the cultural change it brings along with it is kind of hard to adapt for some people. Business leaders also tend to struggle with cultural aspects. The concept of shared responsibilities, blameless postmortems, and speed versus stability can often run counter to the principles they have been taught about leading their organizations in the past.
Having said that, DevOps has been gaining great popularity because of the amazing features it brings to the table. Hence, it has become a buzzword on the tongue of every IT investor today. The future of businesses will be highly impacted by their ability to deliver software faster. Therefore, IT needs to embrace lean principles and methodologies that are provided by DevOps. This article on “7 habits of a highly effective DevOps” will make you familiar with a few effective DevOps habits that will help you with the incorporation of DevOps into your organization.
Setting goals is more important than placing milestones and checking off accomplishments. Experts usually recommend “realistic” or “achievable” goals, but try setting some crazy ones. While you might not be able to achieve them, lofty goals create a culture where people feel safe to fail and understand that experimentation is important to move forward. After all, if you fail to reach the moon, you are still among the stars. High-reaching goals can be a powerful motivator with a significant impact on the organization. Studies have found that setting unrealistically high goals raises the bar by increasing performance to expected levels.
In short, setting higher aims can:
Reduce the failure rates for new releases
Improve the deployment frequency
Decrease mean time to recovery
This simply means “focusing your time and energy on things that can be controlled”.
Business executives lose sleep over reducing time-to-market for new capabilities, reducing security risks, and other metrics that can be directly tied to the top or bottom line. Hence, it is said that “Confidence in Shipping Software into Production” is the most important metric in DevOps. And, it begins with the end in mind – Can we get software into production safely? Starting from there, it works backwards in order to determine how frequently this can happen. This leads to an examination of skills (people), ability to manage deployment frequency (culture), and checking if the right tools and platforms are in place (technology).
Organizations need to let go of process-oriented models where each unit works only for a particular function, without overseeing the complete picture. They need to act like product companies that focus on building working products that are sold to real customers. Also, all employees need to share the engineering mindset that is required to envision and realize those products.
This simply means “working on the most important business priorities”. DevOps is not an immediate step for most organizations since their org charts are optimized for yesterday’s business model and distribution strategies. They have many application platforms archived for different business lines. And, they need to adapt their applications to become mobile-native in order to enhance the customer experience.
Let us look at a few core elements that need to be in place before a business can be expected to be successful in deploying software into production.
Automation – To adopt a continuous improvement culture and receive instant feedback from customers, organizations have quite some waste to eliminate. Fortunately, enormous gains in IT development and operations can be made in that respect. Think of automation of the whole infrastructure landscape by building next-generation container-based cloud platforms that allow infrastructure to be versioned and treated as code. Automation is synonymous with the drive to renew the way teams delivers their services.
CI/CD Pipelines – End-to-end responsibility means that organizations need to adapt continuously to the changing circumstances. An effective DevOps culture focuses on continuous improvement in order to minimize waste, optimize for costs, speed, and to continuously improve the services offered.
Application Platform – Once applications are built, they are deployed into production. Customers expect to get updates on their software on a frequent basis, so it’s important to have a repetitive way to deploy application updates in order to meet business demands on the application. The role of an application platform is managing day-to-day activities.
The ultimate goal of DevOps is to increase the quality and speed of software services. But can a DevOps team accelerate delivery without understanding what they deliver or without knowing the people they deliver to? Here come the feedback loops.
Feedback loops are the key enabler for modern delivery. You need to focus on user delivery needs by amplifying and shortening your feedback loops, in order to link customers to DevOps. Almost every DevOps process should aim for accelerated response times and continuous release based on user requests. Feedback loops fuel our data-driven decisions and offer new levels of precision and rapid adjustment to more events, variables, and needs.
Traditional hand-offs waste a lot of time. So, if you want to accelerate your feedback loops, you need to eliminate as many hand-offs as possible to help development flow throughout the system. His can be achieved by removing the boundaries that exist between different parties, including your customers.
A software development process can not work efficiently without the right tools. Similarly, in DevOps, you can always benefit from the right set of tools. And there is no shortage of options to explore in tools. These tools can help in sharing information, automation, reduction in time of deployment and continuous deployment.
The most common tools in DevOps are-
Configuration management platforms
Continuous integration tools are used to automate the testing and feedback process and also to identify and correct defects in the code. Configuration management tools are used primarily for tracking and controlling changes in the software. These tools extract infrastructure components from the code for automation and help maintain the continuous delivery of software.
Other new tools like the ones offered by Go2Group (a DevOps tools and solutions vendor) are helpful for tasks like eliminating the need for departmental sign-offs and time-consuming interdepartmental requisitions.
Effective DevOps consultants realize that learning and adopting new tools is essential as it can save a significant amount of time in the long run.
DevOps discussion is usually framed as the tension and disconnect between both Development and Operations team. This is often known as the “impedance mismatch” between the speed that development team can push new code and the speed that operations team can accept the updates and make sure that the production environment is ready.
Now, before we blame all the problems on the operations team being too slow, it’s important to look at why it is believed that the development team is so fast. In the 2017 State of DevOps report, we can see that Gene Kim measures the speed at the point when developers push code into source control. They do not measure the speed of design and development.
So, how do both the teams potentially get to a win-win scenario? Here are a few points to remember:
Development teams – insist that security people are included in the development and code review process. Security should not be the last step, but instead, it should be embedded in day-to-day development and testing.
Both Development and Operations teams – require that automated testing becomes part of normal updates. While many groups preach a “mobile-first” or “cloud-first” policy for new apps, they should also embrace an “automated-always” policy.
Things do fail, that’s just a reality of life we have to accept. Failure is not a sin, in fact, it is something you should strive for. You need to fail in order to be great at DevOps. The list below will give you a sense for how you can plan to fail strategically-
Success by failure sounds contradicting. But it is implemented by building failure into the testing process. Consider it as a ‘controlled failure’ where you think strategically about where the system is likely to fail.
DevOps means shifting from fear of failure to a desire to a fail-fast and move forward. It is all about adapting the code quickly in order to meet customer needs. If your mantra is zero failure, then your employees are afraid to innovate because innovation is about failing quite a few times before you succeed. This does not mean that your goal should be to fail. Rather, you need to look at failure as an opportunity to learn and improve.
The earlier you discover the issues, the cheaper it is to fix them which alone is a reason to shift left. Concepts like addressing security issues before they actually affect your customers is crucial.
Bringing quality earlier onto your development schedule means that:
QA takes part in initial planning discussions.
Testers oversee minimal viable product features in order to evaluate requirements, function, and architecture.
Performance and functional testing are embedded in the development process.
Security is a priority from the very beginning.
Make sure to include strong Application Performance Monitoring tools (APM) and feedback loops using tools like Slack to communicate in case tests fail. When significant failures occur, it is important to have OnPage integrated into monitoring systems like DataDog or SolarWinds to ensure that critical notifications are delivered prominently to the on-call engineer.
Whenever systems or code fails, there is always documentation to fall back on to explain how the systems are supposed to work. Documentation should explain error codes, workflows, and best practices. Since it is not always possible to reach out to the developer and ask why a code is malfunctioning, proper documentation comes handy as it is easily accessible.
A business should always learn from past mistakes. And, with DevOps, it is crucial. Blameless post mortems are necessary for effective DevOps as they point to a mature team that is willing to learn from its mistakes. Also, the team realizes that mistakes are inevitable and they can always learn something from these mistakes.
Habits of a highly effective DevOps require a range of skills that go beyond learning a new way to use automation to improve availability and performance. These skills also include prioritization/time management, effective relationship management and goal alignment across teams, and continuous improvement.
The idea behind these effective DevOps habits is to enable development and operations teams to move fast by streamlining security and smoothly inserting it into the continuous delivery workflow. Building a DevOps culture is not an instantaneous process, you can’t simply pull it out of the box. But if you take a thoughtful and incremental approach, DevOps becomes a powerful combination of culture and tools that can elevate your business to a level of agility and quality that your competitors would find hard to beat. And adopting the above habits of highly effective DevOps will get you there.
With this, we come to an end of this article. If you found these “7 habits of an effective DevOps” relevant, then check out the DevOps training by Edureka, a trusted online learning company with a network of more than 250,000 satisfied learners spread across the globe. The Edureka DevOps Certification Training course helps learners gain expertise in various DevOps processes and tools such as Puppet, Jenkins, Nagios and GIT for automating multiple steps in SDLC.