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DevOps lessons learned: Advice for IT leaders
Tips on DevOps culture, metrics, and more, from your peers
DevOps is often described as a journey, a movement, or a culture. DevOps isn't just a set of tools that IT leaders can buy and put into practice the next day. It requires careful planning, continued attention, and a purposeful approach, such as creating a center of excellence or updating your DevOps team model.
No matter where you are on your journey, it's always helpful to hear from those who have been there, done that, and learned along the way. We asked seven IT professionals to share their DevOps lessons learned and best pieces of advice for others who may just be getting started. You'll see that not all of them see DevOps the same way. Some disagree, for instance, on whether you should have a dedicated DevOps team. Who's right? That depends on your company's situation and goals. Let's delve into their advice:
Grassroots adoption is key
Our lessons learned: All major transitions take much longer than expected. Be patient and look for steady progress. It is not practical to stop everything else the team is doing and focus only on the future state. It is important to make incremental progress. Avoid bringing in consultants or creating a DevOps team. DevOps is a way of doing things, it is not a job title nor a tool. Everyone in the organization needs to adopt a DevOps way of thinking. So while top-level direction, vision, and evangelism is important, equally important is a grassroots adoption by the staff who believe in the change. Do not get attached to any particular tool. Using a particular tool or deployment method or process should not be the goal. The goal is to continuously deliver value and create an awesome customer experience."
[For more DevOps lessons learned, read our Q&A with Mike McNamara, CIO, Target: Target CIO explains how DevOps took root inside the retail giant]
Focus on value
It's not for everyone
Another thing to consider in DevOps is that it never really ends. Unlike major software upgrades of the past with a clear beginning and end, in a DevOps environment there is a constant cycle of incremental updates, testing, and continuous user feedback, which then flows back into new updates.
Finally, know that DevOps is not for everyone. While many enterprises are embracing DevOps, it’s not something all companies should be jumping into blindly. Desktop or legacy apps are harder to move into a DevOps environment, so companies with those types of applications might want to first consider transitioning to web-based apps."
Tailor your approach
DevOps is like all processes and practices. It cannot be a cookie-cutter implementation. Whoever is taking on the task of DevOps needs to understand that the product they're building and the skill sets they have internally. They need to take the DevOps fundamentals and tailor it to that particular environment."
Don't take security for granted
Eliminate roadblocks and establish metrics first
Also, an organization needs to determine parameters it would like to establish to track progress towards successful DevOps adoption. The key is to have a few, simple metrics that truly reflect value to the end customer, including production deployment frequency; average lead time for a production change; average production recover time; and change failure rate in production. A true measure of successful DevOps adoption is an improvement in all these parameters over time." (See our related story: DevOps metrics: Are you measuring what matters?)
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