Im­por­tance of Cul­ture in DevOps

The ben­e­fits of a DevOps ap­proach far out­weigh any tra­di­tional de­liv­ery ap­proaches to over­come busi­ness chal­lenges. How­ever, suc­cess­ful DevOps re­quires care­ful man­age­ment of or­gan­i­sa­tional and cul­tural change

Dataquest - - C9ONTENTS - The au­thor is Di­rec­tor Tech­nol­ogy & Lead – In­fra­struc­ture & DevOps, Sapi­en­tRa­zor­fish)

In to­day’s dig­i­tal age, IT-en­abled in­no­va­tion has be­come a com­pet­i­tive dif­fer­en­tia­tor. Ir­re­spec­tive of the com­pany’s size or type, agility in de­liv­er­ing IT sys­tems and the abil­ity to run them ef­fec­tively have be­come crit­i­cal. As a re­sult, the con­cept of DevOps has the be­come key. Most or­ga­ni­za­tions are busy adopt­ing DevOps, or are undergoing “au­to­ma­tion” – a more com­monly un­der­stood phe­nom­e­non. How­ever, in their at­tempt to match or be­come the next Google, Ama­zon, or Face­book, they have been suc­cess­ful in im­ple­ment­ing DevOps in smaller, one project sce­nar­ios, but are strug­gling when it comes to an en­ter­prise level transformation.

The pri­mary rea­son for their strug­gle is un­der­min­ing the focus on cul­ture and in­stead con­cen­trat­ing solely on the process of au­to­ma­tion. Devops is not about in­de­pen­dently build­ing an au­to­mated process and plug­ging it in, nor is it about churn­ing out code / fea­tures at a rapid pace. DevOps is a cul­ture and not just a tool or process, which ex­plains why it is ef­fec­tive in in­di­vid­ual projects or with smaller teams. In­flu­enc­ing cul­ture within a smaller group is much eas­ier than in a larger group of peo­ple. Gart­ner in a re­port in 2015 had pre­dicted that “by 2018, 90% of I&O or­ga­ni­za­tions at­tempt­ing to use DevOps with­out specif­i­cally ad­dress­ing their cul­tural foun­da­tions will fail”.

The core em­pha­sis of Devops is col­lab­o­ra­tion. Solv­ing prob­lems is not just about tool­ing, but break­ing down si­los and tak­ing col­lec­tive own­er­ship of the prob­lem. The DevOps CALMS (Cul­ture, Au­to­ma­tion, Lean, Mea­sure­ment and Shar­ing) frame­work also em­pha­sizes this.

The ben­e­fits of a DevOps ap­proach far out­weigh any tra­di­tional de­liv­ery ap­proaches to over­come busi­ness chal­lenges. How­ever, suc­cess­ful DevOps re­quires care­ful man­age­ment of or­gan­i­sa­tional and cul­tural change in ad­di­tion to ac­quir­ing the right skills. Here is what com­pa­nies can do to en­sure the “DevOps cul­ture” is ef­fec­tively main­tained:

Break si­los – en­ter­prises see this more of­ten; there are mul­ti­ple teams. They can con­tinue to ex­ist but need to col­lab­o­rate on a project and func­tion as “one team” Align all stake­hold­ers on the ob­jec­tives Start bot­tom-up; Coach & train them. Apply the RAW (Ready, Able and Will­ing) frame­work to equip peo­ple for the change

Don’t dis­cour­age fail­ure – rather al­low them to de­tect early and fix; It makes fail­ures less ex­pen­sive

Adopt bi-modal IT – do not change ev­ery sys­tem or give up con­trol on all sys­tems; be se­lec­tive and pro­ceed.

Main­tain Trans­parency – it helps bridge the gap in the way com­mu­ni­ca­tion flows; ev­ery­one is aware of what oth­ers are do­ing.

Lastly, just don’t think au­to­ma­tion will solve or bring agility if ev­ery­one is not col­lab­o­rat­ing

While cul­ture is re­sis­tant to change, how­ever it can be a great en­abler of change and in this case bring agility, re­peata­bil­ity. The im­por­tance of cul­ture in DevOps is high­lighted from the fact that Logz.io added a new sec­tion in their an­nual DevOps pulse re­port, which says that “The most dif­fi­cult as­pects of es­tab­lish­ing DevOps in­clud­ing shift­ing com­pany pri­or­i­ties, get­ting de­vel­oper buy-in, and main­tain­ing open com­mu­ni­ca­tions. These three ac­tions, among oth­ers, are of­ten tied to the fact that it is very hard to es­cape the typ­i­cal si­los that de­velop within com­pa­nies and teams. Ev­ery­one and ev­ery team has a dif­fer­ent way of work­ing and a dif­fer­ent set of pri­or­i­ties to ad­dress and goals to meet.”

All the tool­ing and au­to­ma­tion in the world will be use­less if they aren’t ac­com­pa­nied by a gen­uine de­sire on the part of teams to col­lab­o­rate and work to­gether. Martin Flower sums it up beau­ti­fully say­ing “Even with the best tools, DevOps is just an­other buzz­word if you don’t have the right cul­ture.”

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