DevOps, the cart before the horse

DevOps, the cart before the horse

DevOps, Development and Operations working in perfect harmony, or is it? Is there a tendency to focus on development to the detriment of operations, and as a result do we end up putting the cart before the horse?

Development and Operations teams are driven by two different and distinct performance measures. Development teams are driven by the need to deliver change, whereas Operations teams are all about maintaining the stability of service to their customers. This can often lead to a clash of cultures and Developments trying to build their own Operational capabilities, with very unpredictable, mixed results.

Adoption of a DevOps philosophy tends to be initiated by Development teams who are frustrated by a perception that Operations teams slow down their ability to deliver change as quickly as they would like and the business demands.

Often, this is in a misguided belief that the Operations teams rely on fixed, rigid ITIL and governance processes that stifle the Development teams, and results in the implementation of a pseudo-DevOps approach, led by Development teams, bypassing the Operations teams.

Development led DevOps adoption can have some very beneficial results, typically highlighting the business advantages that can be gained from the agility and flexibility of small, frequent releases.

However, Development teams, don’t, by their nature, have an operational mind-set, and this is where building a DevOps environment where the Operation teams are integrated early in the lifecycle with the Development team, can realise long term benefits.

Embedding Operations resources within the DevOps processes, rather than tacking them on at the end, helps incorporate a level of quality and stability, into products, that might otherwise have been missed. Operations, ITIL and Service Management all place an emphasis on Non-Functional Requirements, ensuring that solutions are supportable, and incorporate factors such as troubleshooting, resiliency, performance, availability, capacity and monitoring.

Furthermore, one of the key facets of DevOps and the Agile methodologies is the collaborative mentality of self-organising teams. The merger of Operations and Development into a whole new DevOps team structure, is a great way to overcome any silo mentality, clash of cultures and resistance to new ways of working.

There does tend to be a common view among development teams that ITIL has no place in a DevOps environment, and therefore they would do better starting from scratch rather than working with the existing ‘tarnished’ resources. This is a mistake that is rooted in a common misconception of the ITIL framework, often by operations teams as well as developers, that it is rigid and prescriptive.

Firstly, it is worth re-emphasising that ITIL is not prescriptive, rather it is a pragmatic framework that can be adapted and adopted to meet the specific needs of business, and should be continually reviewed and modified to adapt to changing requirements.

Secondly, the key element for DevOps is the foundation that ITIL provides, delivering best practices for operations. ITIL provides a mechanism for structure and control for operations, and shouldn’t slow anything down.

Integrated Development and Operations teams need to actively and continually review the processes that are in place, and be pragmatic on both sides, balancing the demands for flexible, agile and rapid change and releases, against the desire for stability and control.

It is important to remember that DevOps practices aren’t applicable for every application, project, or business, but where they are, they can be shown to be eminently effective in improving both IT and business outcomes.

And don’t forget, you typically don’t jump from a traditional operating model to a DevOps based one, in one go. More often than not, DevOps is added alongside Development and Operations as another element of the Operating model.

A Development led implementation of DevOps, where appropriate, will be successful, but involving and integrating the Operations element at an early stage will help ensure long term viability, all the time making sure that the needs and requirements of the business are met.

If you would like to find out how iCore can help you with a DevOps implementation then please contact us on 0207 868 2405 or email info@icore-ltd.com