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How to get DevOps right

Andrew Phillips, VP of DevOps Strategy, XebiaLabs | Feb. 4, 2016
The Dos and Don’ts of enterprise DevOps.

* Measure the right things.   We need to measure the right things and make those results visible.  The best way to win over skeptics is to show results. You might want to look at the time it takes to go from concept-to-cash or commit-to-cash. You may decide it’s vital to measure how many production deployments or roll backs you’ve had in a specific time period, or how quickly developers were able to get feedback. Maybe you’ll measure MTTR, time spent providing audit data, or handover time during release. Many other metrics are possible -- the right things to measure will differ from organization to organization depending on your business goals.

This also helps create an open culture, which is a core concept of DevOps. As the data rolls in, you can see what’s working and what isn’t. There’s a lot of value in finding out why one project has successfully gone from one deployment per month to ten deployments per day, while another has stalled. Analyze, evaluate, and make changes.

Measurement also helps you to distinguish means from goals. DevOps isn’t about simply implementing a bunch of tooling, because tools are just implements to help you meet other goals. We need to continue to draw a distinction between what we’re trying to achieve and which processes, practices and tools we’re trying out to that end.

* Constant communication.  What we’re really striving for with DevOps is collective responsibility. Developers shouldn’t be blindly implementing whatever has been assigned, they need to ask questions early if they know it will have a significant impact down the line, or if the feature simply won’t be usable. Likewise, testing and QA in a DevOps environment isn’t about finding bugs and passing it on, but about fixing defects, and collaborating to make sure issues actually get resolved. Business teams should be providing input and answering questions from day one.

The earlier everyone is communicating the better… and the lines of communications must be kept open. We need to find ways to break down the traditional walls between silos and enable productive communication and collaboration to take place. Teams should have visibility of the entire process of getting new features to production, so they can build a big picture view. It doesn’t happen by itself. We need to make sure that goals are shared.

While many of these aims are challenging and ambitious, a single step in the right direction can still be beneficial. The first stage of a move towards DevOps might be to focus on automation as a way of improving efficiency and reducing errors. A true culture shift will take longer, but as long as you keep measuring, every step of the way, you can be confident you’re headed in the right direction.


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