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Nigel is field CTO at Puppet and co-author of the industry-leading State Of DevOps Report. He works with Puppet’s largest customers on the cultural and organizational changes necessary for large-scale DevOps implementations. Prior to Puppet, Nigel belonged to Google’s site reliability engineering organization, where he was responsible for one of the largest Puppet deployments in the world.
Are you curious about DevOps, but skeptical about whether it will deliver what it’s supposed to for your organization? Or perhaps you’re aware of the impact it can have, but need to convince executive peers or managers? In my experience working with companies that are implementing DevOps practices, I’ve found there are some common myths swirling about that can really inhibit an organization if they’re not dispelled.
Before I dive into some myth-busting, let’s settle on a definition for DevOps:
DevOps: a loose and evolving collection of engineering, behavioral and organizational practices focused on going rapidly, safely and sustainably from idea to customer/business value. It requires a strong IT automation platform that enables an infrastructure-as-code approach. It’s often accomplished by using cross-team automation tools like automated testing, continuous integration and continuous delivery. And it often involves organizing teams in such a way that operational pain is shared and resolved by the entire team.
DevOps as a practice is continually evolving, so for a deeper understanding, I highly recommend you read the 2021 State of DevOps Report.
Now: Someone in your org (perhaps you) wants to implement a DevOps approach, but you’re running into resistance.
The 7 Myths
Here are the most common myths you’ll run into, and how to disprove them.
Myth 1: There’s no direct customer/business value in adopting DevOps practices.
DevOps is about delivering reliable products that run well in production, thus meeting the desired customer expectations and business value. DevOps practices help make software delivery faster, thereby increasing competitive edge with shorter time to market while also reducing labor costs. It seeks to optimize processes, remove wasteful practices and promote immediate feedback and learning from problems. DevOps introduces real measurability to IT functions, where it was previously lacking.
Myth 2: There’s no significant return on investment in applying DevOps principles to legacy applications.
Large returns can be had from minimal investment. Applying DevOps methods and practices is not an all-or-nothing decision. In fact, the true costs of legacy applications are often poorly understood. The hidden wastes that can be found inside routine “run-the-business” activity are a significant drag on your business. Further, the largest returns and increases in business benefits often come from improvements to areas that aren’t considered new investment. Ignoring legacy systems and the processes that manage those systems will undermine your improvement efforts elsewhere and drive up your overall costs.
Myth 3: DevOps only works with “unicorn” companies, but not traditional enterprise businesses like ours.
Large, traditional enterprises are adopting DevOps at an accelerating rate. In fact, 83% of respondents to the 2021 State of DevOps Report stated that they are implementing DevOps in some fashion. We see enterprise companies reporting benefits like reduced time to market for software, including cycle time/lead time; lower MTTR and high levels of employee engagement. It’s also important to remember that DevOps can start small by providing value in one area without requiring enterprise-wide adoption and support. However, to achieve full-blown DevOps success, it’s very important to get top-down support; you’ll find more about this in the 2021 State of DevOps Report as well.
Myth 4: Improvement via DevOps principles requires spare time and people that we simply don’t have.
The outcome of any successful DevOps transformation will be that an organization is able to spend more of its time on value-adding activity. DevOps practices free up capacity within organizations. Trying to push more through an organization already at capacity is bound to fail.
Myth 5: We have regulatory and compliance requirements that preclude the adoption of DevOps principles.
DevOps is more than just development and operations; it should be inclusive of all entities required to deliver business value, including the audit and compliance teams. IT automation removes much of the human intervention and manual manipulation that makes the audit and compliance process slow and painful. Automated, repeatable processes are easier to audit, easier to understand and easier to secure, which enables the shift from merely passing the test to securing the business. In fact, the 2021 State of DevOps Report shows that the most highly evolved DevOps firms integrate security into requirements (51 percent), design (61 percent), build (53 percent) and testing (52 percent).
Myth 6: We don’t have any problems that adopting DevOps principles and practices would fix.
Ha, that’s a good one! DevOps isn’t just about delivering code. Continuous improvement is one of the hallmarks of an organization successfully applying DevOps principles and practices. Being “good at getting better” is a key capability that can provide an operational advantage for any business. Every business faces pressure to move faster, get more done and improve quality. The common principles and practices of DevOps are focused on eliminating the most frustrating parts of IT work, which enables businesses to attract top technical talent.
Myth 7: Enterprises are limited in their DevOps initiatives by the DevOps skills available to them.
Hiring new people doesn’t fix an organization where people aren’t organically learning new skills and have the bandwidth and psychological safety to develop expertise. If you have all those things, then you tend to not have a skills shortage. Everyone complains about not being able to hire enough people with the right skills, yet throwing more people at the problem is not a scalable solution. DevOps principles enable your experts with sufficient autonomy and direction, such that the rest of the organization can get value from their expertise. The best way to do this is to have a strong focus on delivering value via self-service internally, something DevOps does.
As you can see, these seven common myths don’t hold up to the truth of DevOps practices and principles. DevOps is as much a cultural change as a change of best practices. In fact, this year’s State of DevOps Report dives into the cultural blockers preventing 78% of enterprises from evolving from mid-level DevOps success to high-evolution.
Enterprises that adopt DevOps experience myriad benefits that affect far more than just developers and operations folks. It really is about aligning the entire business in a way that streamlines, safeguards and promotes gleaning value from automated processes and well-founded practices.
I highly recommend you read the 2021 State of DevOps Report for the most up-to-date take on DevOps today and register for Puppetize Digital 2021 on Sept. 29-30 to learn more about how to scale DevOps with success.
Lead image via Pixabay.
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