DevOps Myths

April 16, 2018

DevOps, the combination of development and operations, has been proven to improve the performance of the software development lifecycle. Despite this, and the fact that is has been an emerging practice across organisations for a while now, there are many reservations surrounding its implementation. A process which can easily be plugged into the overall structure of the agile and lean-thinking methodologies, implementing DevOps takes organisations on a journey of transformative and strategic foundational change. Here we seek to debunk some of the DevOps myths and illustrate the benefits of adopting the methodology, whose overall aim is to ensure a fast, predictable and uninterrupted flow of work that delivers value to the customer.

DevOps is just about implementing changes across IT teams

Maybe the name DevOps itself is giving off the wrong impression. Does DevOps mean that by fixing issues across the Development and Operations teams, all the issues related to software delivery will be resolved? If this was the case, then Development and Operations would be solely responsible for poor software delivery. The truth is, that every team within the organisation is responsible for software delivery, which is why every team within the organisation is responsible for the solution.

DevOps is first and foremost a cultural change. It aims to embed better management practices and improve operational excellence, bringing value to the business. It involves taking a holistic view of the processes that govern all functional teams from Business, Development, QA and Support, through to InfoSec, but is also tightly intertwined with the existing organisational processes such as compliance and audit. Successful DevOps implementations look not just at the software delivery, but at the end-to-end organisational processes. The ultimate aim is to transform the isolated teams into a synchronised organisational process, with teams who work together from inception to reduce the time taken to deliver a product.

DevOps eliminates the need for project management

Many think that by implementing DevOps there is no further need for documentation, because collaboration and communication means everyone is aware of every detail at all times. This is not the case.

Software delivery consists of numerous moving parts, each in a constant state of flux, so it is virtually impossible to keep any type of document consistently up-to-date. As a result, it is quite common for the project details to change whilst it is being documented. Instead of employing the traditional methods of gathering and disseminating project-related information, DevOps promotes the use of a centralised visual work board, such as a kanban board. A kanban board allows the visualisation and organisation of projects to get the tasks done more efficiently. It controls the workflows and tracks every task of every project spanning the requirements, development, test, User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and production. The information is available and easily accessible to individual contributors as well as project stakeholders. One of the key benefits of visualising a process end-to-end, is that it allows show-stopping bottlenecks such as gaps, dependencies and constraints to be identified and addressed early in the process.

Security and compliance does not fit into DevOps

Some people believe that the DevOps process of transforming fragmented teams who execute their functions in isolation into integrated groups that work together towards deliverables, enables development to take over the security function and circumvent certain compliance and regulatory requirements. This is not the case.

DevOps does not mean that IT absorbs the security function. To the contrary, DevOps integrates security into the IT process from inception, in order to ensure that InfoSec issues are identified at the start of the project and addressed early in the SDLC. The DevOps-orientated world focuses on bringing input from every team as early as possible and then automating the processes to ensure short, predictable release times and quality.

Implemented correctly, DevOps upholds the integrity of the regulatory body that governs such processes as segregation of duties, change control and audits. This is essential because compliance with security and regulatory audits are at the core of business continuity.

DevOps is only about Continuous Integration (CI)/Continuous Delivery (CD) and automated testing

Automation in DevOps goes beyond CI/CD, or functional and E2E system testing. It also addresses problems with scalability, consistency and reliability, and aims to support the rapid changes in business demands and ensure that the deployments are a low-risk process. It encompasses continuous building, testing, integration and deployment of code, which drives the shift-left paradigm enabling testing to be conducted throughout all parts of the project.

Undoubtedly DevOps requires automation to create the foundation for quick and safe software releases, but it also requires cultural and architectural changes to achieve shared organisational goals. DevOps is something an organisation practices, not something it builds. 

DevOps is a simple off-the-shelf solution

On the surface, the steps for DevOps implementation, including collaboration, integration and automation, seem straight forward, but there are many intricacies involved in the process. Although material information is available on DevOps, there is no off-the-shelf solution that can be simply applied to an organisation to transform it into a DevOps machine. There are guidelines and practices that provide a set of techniques and tools to help organisations navigate through the complexities.

One of the most important concepts of DevOps is that a business is only successful when the entire organisation achieves its’ goals. Firms need to understand the value streams across their organisation and the work involved in each stream. This will provide a basic understanding of the current state, drive the definition of the future state, and affect how to best enable the teams and individuals to achieve their respective goals.

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