In a recent study on IT careers, it was found that mid-size companies were more likely to seek candidates with DevOps skills, ones who understood and embodied the enormous cultural shift that DevOps entailed. The reason is apparent – high-quality development at accelerated speeds can hugely benefit mid-size companies. The philosophy of using small batch sizes, for example, fits the ethos of a mid-size company perfectly.
Let’s also not forget that in a mid-size company, it is easier to get the requisite stakeholder buy-in than it is in a large company. Also, the superior business processes and culture that DevOps represents can help a mid-size company achieve both scalability and quality control.
Even if you are not a software company, the chances are that you have developers working on your product both internally and externally, and this is where DevOps becomes essential to stay relevant.
Of course, all this may look great on paper but let’s not forget that requirements needed for DevOps implementation necessitate a rigorous adoption process, thorough planning, and standardized tests and adjustments.
Plan and visualize
For mid-sized enterprises, it is important to lay out a DevOps implementation strategy and underline the business process very clearly. It is also essential to choose leaders and managers who have worked with the DevOps philosophy and model before and can lead the way clear for the others.
For one thing, DevOps is not just a set of tools and business processes but an approach that varies from company to company. The application development services differ from organization to organization. A one-shoe-fits-all approach never works, and a common mistake mid-sized companies make is to borrow ideas or entire approaches from large companies.
To break out of traditional molds, it is better to start gradually and layout workflows clearly. This will help teams visualize the high-velocity business processes that a DevOps approach entails and to rule out false positives as much as possible. A good idea would be to build DevOps into a team where the maximum effect can be achieved quickly to motivate other team members to adopt the mindset and tools quickly and effectively.
DevOps is as much a philosophy as it is a toolkit. Developers and operations specialists should both understand the cross-functional roles that they play, instead of relinquishing responsibility of an error to one specific team or saying that they followed the rules but didn’t find success. However, in the real world, it’s hard to achieve this pitch-perfect culture and the beginning of the journey is indeed not easy. It is one of the reasons why getting the proper quality controls in place is essential.
Mid-size firms should step into DevOps gradually to see if a set of tools work. Breaking old workflows and habits too quickly and suddenly can be detrimental to teams and processes, not to mention communication channels.
To begin with, find out why your company can use a DevOps implementation. For instance, do you have multiple sets of developers? Do these teams handle web application development both internally and externally but are stumbling into problems and roadblocks with the business process? Does your company have high-dynamic customer needs and complex customer channels that could use automation and a more intensive delivery process? Many times, companies jump into DevOps without first understanding where it could benefit them specifically. They also need to change everything, right down to replacing legacy tools with cloud and integrated products.
Also, companies should understand that it takes time to break into the DevOps philosophy.
Test, optimize, automate
As mentioned previously, DevOps is not a one-shoe-fits-all approach. It has to be adapted to suit every company. Continuous testing and adjustment of processes can help address problems, in the long run. It is best to test and optimize before introducing it to the rest of the company. Test and cross-check every part of development, operations, and security functions to ensure everything is in line before completely changing the business process of the company.
Since automation is a huge component of DevOps, make the best use of it for your mid-size organization for better DevOps implementation. If automation is used to your benefit, you can easily transition to DevOps and achieve all the continuous integration, process and delivery. Automation also extends to the testing process and the delivery pipeline, and all this has to be monitored closely. While DevOps is a mindset that encourages flexibility, automation and integration need to be very specific, consistent, and watertight to achieve the superior delivery model that DevOps aims to provide.
The final achievement is to automate how you get code or products into production and check out their efficacy. However, without testing, it would be ineffectual, and there is undoubtedly no return on investing so significantly in DevOps. Remember, the investment is not just of money but also of invaluable resources like time and human capital.
While organizational buy-in isn’t a massive challenge for mid-size companies, it is nevertheless a challenge. The misconception is that DevOps advocates cannot quantify their testing, but this can be done if the teams are releasing continuous updates and identifying areas of improvement.
While automating and testing, never lose sight of goals like cutting development times and turbocharging efficiency.
Integration and seamless business processes
The integration process needs to happen gradually. A good strategy is to take a small step with a process that has a high chance of not working so that there is a trial by fire period for all the teams, including operations, development, and the rest of the organization. It is a crucial learning process. Gradually, it is possible to extend development to more complex processes that involve machine learning, cloud, and IoT.
Aim for an integrated toolchain that works seamlessly in the application life cycle and identifies problem areas or roadblocks that can be solved using it.
It is essential to achieve a seamless workflow with DevOps before scaling up these practices. Scaling up for the sake of getting organizational approval never works.
Cultural and collaborative shift
The biggest roadblock to SMEs implementing DevOps is collaboration and how to achieve it. DevOps is as much a people’s issue as it is a process change.
According to Chris Tozzi from DevOps.com, mid-size companies have the hardest time adopting DevOps. This can be true, in part since these organizations have entrenched themselves in fixed processes and unlike large organizations, they cannot break down their processes into multiple teams because of their size.
This article from HackerNoon, for instance, has some interesting strategies to gamify the DevOps approach to build teams and collaboration by different tactics, e.g., to change one line of code and see how development and deployment are affected.
For this reason, a deliberate DevOps strategy is most important for organizations that are of medium size. They need to actively break their silos and outline application development services with precision.
The most significant driving force should be improving customer value on a continuous basis. The real-time high-velocity environment of DevOps is a great motivator if only its benefits and processes are made understandable to team members.
This article from DZone mentions how empathy is the cornerstone of a great DevOps approach, and it is entirely right. The philosophy of DevOps is built on empathy and conjoined interests – we are all in this together. Empathy doesn’t only extend to compassion but pivots on the need for survival. Teams need to be responsible for the entire process and delivery instead of only what they perceive to be their part in the process.
The road to ensuring this cultural shift involves much effort. The organization should invest in continuous learning opportunities for all employees, and the focus should be on continuous improvement. It is also essential for organizational heads to lead the change and set an example by breaking hierarchy and cross-collaborating on tasks themselves.
DevOps has many quirks and is not a linear approach. For example, the blame game doesn’t work here, and everyone takes responsibility equally. Teams should be educated continuously, both on the technical and cultural aspects of this change. Managers and organizational heads should support struggling team members. Some companies even hire trained coaches to aid in the transition process, and this is a superb idea. This means that the company is taking DevOps seriously and is prepared to invest time in it so that people learn and imbibe the process entirely.
Another interesting and perhaps crucial approach is to talk to employees early on and identify common problems, even before the transition comes into effect. Not only are you bringing employees into the loop but doing simple need analysis also enables you to understand the pain points of every team and wins the trust of the people who are embarking on this massive adventure with you. In other words, organizational buy-in is one thing but getting buy-in from all teams and managers is equally crucial.
In conclusion, DevOps is not just a layered and cross-collaborative process but a philosophy that involves personal investment by every member of the organization. It is vital for a mid-size company to remove corporate policies and roadblocks that separate development and deployment, IT, and operations to produce amazing results.