For many businesses who have embraced it, the cultural shift that has become known as ‘DevOps’ has allowed them to reap significant rewards from greater productivity, more fluid internal communication and increasingly rapid development. These seemingly obvious advantages have not gone unnoticed by competitors, and many more in the tech industry are now looking to take the plunge into this new world. What exactly is DevOps, though? If it is the panacea that it seems, why does it have such a negative reputation?
Beginning at the beginning
Many people do not initially realise that DevOps is not one isolated idea, but rather a collection of concepts which, when taken together, seek to break down the traditional barriers which exist between the Development and Operations sides of a software development company. The theory is, and this much has been borne out where DevOps strategies have been implemented successfully, that eliminating organisational silos and encouraging workers to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams brings many benefits to the business. Lower costs, better speed of development, increased innovation, and higher levels of employee satisfaction to name just a few.
For many workers here in the North-East, who have cut their development teeth on a diet of small, start-up companies, this will probably sound something like a typical day at the office. After all, if there are only a half-dozen of you in your business, then you probably work in this way already.
Challenges, however, often come to the surface, when DevOps devotees attempt to advocate for the strategy in larger organisations that have a more established, traditional culture.
The challenge of change
Human beings hate change. Let’s be clear, it’s not our fault, and there’s nothing that we can do about it. It’s in our genes to be frightened of things that are new and unfamiliar. This very fact of evolution is part of the reason that we still exist as a species at all. Unfortunately, it’s also what makes us completely useless at accepting changes in the way we work.
So, you should be under no illusion – if you decide to implement DevOps in your business, you will be fighting against millions of years of evolution to do it. Of course, the same goes for changing where the coffee machine lives or the size of your developers’ free doughnut allowance!
Making it work
Change takes time. You won’t be able to radically alter the way your business works overnight – if you have a large company, it could take years. Nor would it be wise to simply hire a group of new ‘DevOps people’ and bring them in to lead the new way, as you would only be creating a new silo of individuals for your existing staff to fight with.
Implementing DevOps successfully will require patience, effort and above all strong leadership and advocacy, to bring your teams on board and inspire them to make the journey along with you, to a new way of working, and the rewards it can bring.