How to avoid common mistakes of DevOps implementations

By Sanjay Zalavadia, VP, Client Services, Zephyr

DevOps is a complex trend for teams to pursue, but certainly not impossible. The important thing to note is that businesses can't simply switch DevOps on and run such a team effectively; it takes work and time to accomplish. A number of DevOps initiatives have failed under agile efforts because teams simply make too many easy errors and don't get the types of results that they expected. Here are a few tips to avoid the most common mistakes of DevOps implementations:

1. Do the groundwork first

As already mentioned, DevOps isn't something that can be flipped on like a switch. Decision-makers must ensure that everyone is on board with the transition and that they have the approvals needed to proceed. Developer.com contributor NeccoCeresani noted that many issues stem from the fact that not everyone is on the same page at the same time. It will be important to talk with and train teams according to DevOps practices and clearly communicate new processes.

Creating a transition plan during this phase will be a critical factor in the ability to fully support DevOps. This will give teams a guideline for how to migrate from legacy software development to agile and automation. Taking the time to draw up a strategy will establish clear objectives and provide teams with a means to succeed.

2. Don't go hybrid

One of the biggest mistakes a team can make with a DevOps team, and an agile environment in general, is to develop a hybridized strategy including legacy and new processes. TechBeacon contributor Christopher Null noted that many organizations attempt to keep old cultures intact, leading to agile methodologies while keeping teams within their traditional silos. QA management in these setups is problematic, as it gives into the cultural pushback of waterfall testing approaches, and doesn't fully support the innovative efforts offered by agile and DevOps practices.

Teams must go all-in for DevOps, and that includes sitting together, collaborating on projects and creating a culture without barriers. This type of change will obviously be a huge shock, but it's necessary in order to realize the full potential of DevOps.

"To fully realize the benefits of DevOps, larger organizations with more complex internal structures must look beyond the immediate relationship between developers and operations," DevOps expert Rajesh Sethu told Null. "Applying the principles of DevOps so that teams feel they have the breadth to drive constant value and improvements will help enable its success across the organization."

3. Scale with needs

After trying out DevOps for one project, it's necessary to expand these operations across the board. DevOps and agile place heavy emphasis on pushing out deliverables quickly and efficiently, with weekly or even daily releases of code. However, many teams make the mistake of underestimating the scale of work and resources required to make these efforts a possibility. TechTarget contributor John Treadway noted that deep critical analysis will be necessary at each step in application delivery to eliminate bottlenecks and make processes more efficient. Going from yearly to weekly or daily cycles is a major challenge that will need everyone to come together for the unified goal of scaling to these needs.

"Even if you are in a regulated business, most of your applications can be delivered far more frequently than the one or two major cycles you typically have per year," Treadway wrote. "Getting to monthly, weekly or even daily releases is really the same challenge any operations process presents; it requires a scale perspective that is not familiar to many in IT."

These practices also extend into testing, as QA teams are now involved with projects from the very beginning. This allows tests to be created before a line of code is even written. With the regular deliverables, testers must be ready to execute test cases on a continuous basis. Many have turned to automation integration to supplement these needs, while testers complete other evaluations. Ultimately, these efforts lead to better quality, but it will take some time to scale teams to the level that is expected.

Teams across the board face a number of challenges when it comes to DevOps, and it's easy to make mistakes along the way. By following these tips, teams can avoid the most common errors and ensure that they are fully supporting DevOps initiatives.

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