5 Things You Need to Know When Implementing DevOps

When your business is humming along it’s often hard to make a change even when that change can grow your business in the long term. Implementing DevOps practices at your organization may seem disruptive but the benefits are well worth the effort. And with planning and best practices, you can smooth the adoption of DevOps within your organization.

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Here are five common challenges you may face as you consider making DevOps the engine that drives your business.

1. Difficulty staying on the same page

When you bring developers and operations together it often highlights the differences in the manner each group views the world—and each other. According to Red Hat, “the same terms often had different meaning” even in a small group. In the example Red Hat used two team members—one sysadmin and  one infosec staff— each took 10 minutes to figure out what the other meant by the term “full stack”.

Since communication is key, terminology differences need to be recognized from the start to ease the way into DevOps.

2. Developers vs. operations—and the fear of change

Developers are more likely to embrace DevOps for several reasons. For one, they’re more accustomed to change than other disciplines as they often have different experiences and need to adjust to the work environment more frequently. Some developers are engineering school graduates, while other software engineers are coding currently in a language they learned on the job. DevOps also often emphasizes the benefits of quality of life and job satisfaction to developers, including faster provisioning, and most importantly, greater room for creativity and innovation.

Operations professionals have a different perspective. Many fear that with DevOps, developers will dump untested, buggy software into production, consequently destabilizing the system. There’s ample evidence that the reverse is usually true, but since keeping the system up and running is the main imperative for operations, DevOps can be a harder sell for them. The trick is to show operations pros that faster deployment cycles, with significantly fewer changes per cycle, means that problems are fewer and thus much easier to identify and rollback if necessary.

3. Having to learn new skills

DevOps impacts people in the organization in a number of areas by requiring new skills often outside the staff’s comfort zone. In certain situations sysadmins may need to build new tools, a skill they may not have learned or used recently.  The pace of DevOps can also be challenging for developers who work in the more linear world of waterfall development. Line managers may resist the formation of cross-functional teams because of the difficulty of managing in such an environment, an objection that is often a major barrier to DevOps adoption in larger enterprises with hierarchical management systems. Executives believe that they will not be able to attract and retain talent with the new skills and abilities necessary for DevOps and worry about undermining salary guidelines to recruit scarce software professionals.

4. Upheaval at work

With DevOps it’s not business as usual. Workflows change and processes look different. Legacy linear management tools for example are often not suited for DevOps, requiring substantial investment in new tools. The intertwined workflows are harder to visualize and document, making regulatory compliance more difficult and time-consuming. This is a concern for some security professionals who worry that security is not being factored in from the get-go by developers.

5. Who’s the boss?

For traditional organizations the power shift that DevOps creates can be unsettling. In organizations where IT commands a great deal of power within the corporate structure, moving to the hierarchy of a software-based company is a big change.

As Barton George, Dell’s director of cloud development programs puts it, “Developers are king, deal with it … IT alone is no longer a difference maker.  Keeping your site up and running 24/7 is just ‘table stakes’…” DevOps— and the rise of the developer class—poses a direct challenge to IT’s way of doing things, and the new world order is going to be a bitter pill for many IT traditionalists.

Yes, there may be some obstacles to overcome as you board the DevOps train, but rest assured there are ways to overcome them. Find out how by downloading the Kickstarting DevOps ebook and learn how others have successfully moved their organizations into a DevOps environment.

Blackboard image courtesy Shutterstock.com

Joy was the managing editor for the New Relic blog. She remains a word nerd. Her experience includes leading content strategy and content development for tech companies. She has been managing publications ranging from magazines such as Electronic Entertainment, manga such as Naruto, and websites including aNewDomain and Dell's Tech Page One. View posts by .

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