DevOps Best Practices: Scaling DevOps for the Enterprise

Information technology has been an integral component of the modern enterprise for decades now. That dependency is only bound to grow. With such digital transformation comes soaring demand for new applications. Software development services will continue to be an integral component of the business amidst a rising pressure to innovate and deliver. As a result, many organizations have moved from traditional development techniques to the more versatile Agile methodologies. This is pushing IT organizations to drop conventional software delivery methods in favor of enterprise DevOps practices such as continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD).

DevOps stimulates innovation and speeds up software delivery by ensuring development and IT operations teams work together from ideation to production deployment. But, adopting DevOps practices does not guarantee success. Some companies have been underwhelmed by the outcome after implementing DevOps practices across their development teams. You may also want to know What is DevOps?

Nevertheless, most DevOps failures come down to flaws in the execution of the methodology. Best practice DevOps implementations increase the value and impact of IT infrastructure by bridging new and old technologies enabling the enterprise to navigate change quicker, with clear time-to-value merits and lower risk.

It’s about scaling DevOps practices with security and quality embedded every step of the way.

We look at some of these practices below.

Seek Small Wins First and Build on What Works

Implementing DevOps best practices can mean a radical shift from the way your organization currently works, and the entire team must buy into this new reality. The recommendations below are meant to increase the speed and efficiency of your DevOps implementation, however, different dynamics within different organizations can lead to different results.

Ideally the best practice for DevOps is to never have large complex projects. Work in small batches where you can learn quickly from your decisions.  Look for the bottlenecks causing the biggest constraints in your current software delivery process and incrementally change, transform, and optimize.  It’s a great way to rack up some quick wins, demonstrate the advantages of the new DevOps practices, and build the team’s confidence in their ability to implement the new methodology.

These wins inspire the team to spread the ‘good news’ about DevOps giving you a great start before you’ve even introduced the entire IT organization to the changes needed to implement DevOps best practices. Build on these wins and leverage what already works.

Remove Organizational Silos to Reduce Friction

Organizational silos are well-intentioned areas of specialization defined within the business to sharpen expertise and assign roles. Over time though, silos may have unintended consequences. Each department may become so consumed by its own assignments that it pays little attention to what happens outside of it. Eventually, each unit grows fiercely protective of its turf. The silos inadvertently limit collaboration and contribute to delays, bugs, and conflicts. That’s why the process of removing the barriers to these silos and integrating the different disciplines within the IT department must be initiated by C-level executives.

For DevOps to work across the enterprise, COOs, CIOs, and CTOs must restructure the composition of software development projects by bringing in representatives from all key IT disciplines not just about Dev and Ops.

Get Everyone on the Same Page

The intent to break down silos is important, but silos can be deeply rooted, and even if you do succeed in removing the barriers, there’s always the risk that they could re-emerge later. Therefore, you need to create an incentive for a silo-less enterprise.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is to make sure the teams have the same goals. Anyone wanting to change a culture needs to define the actions and behaviors they desire, then design the work processes that are necessary to reinforce those behaviors. If continuous improvement and change is desired, you have to ensure the “System” is designed to encourage that.  If your ops team is measured only by mitigating risk and your dev team is measured only by delivering change, you have a conflict.

For example, incorporate intra- and inter-team collaboration metrics into individual and team performance reviews. Base a substantial proportion of the review on lead times and quality metrics for software delivery. This is important not just for the development and operations teams but also QA and security. It’s easier to act your way to a new way of thinking rather than think your way to a new way of acting.

Create Real-Time Visibility

Another way to get everyone on the same page is to provide a single view of the entire system.  Poor visibility limits the success and leads to bad decisions and missed opportunities.  Replace manual project and release tracking methods that use spreadsheets and emails with an open, web-based solution that your team can leverage to plan, track, and govern the entire application release management process.

Product teams and stakeholders require deep, real-time visibility across the entire DevOps toolchain and production environments.  A solution is needed that enables product team members to focus on deadline-driven tasks while providing relevant real-time information to managers and stakeholders.

Stay Focused on the End User

Once it’s deployed, no application or service exists in a vacuum. It will interact with existing and quite often new systems. More importantly, it’s developed for use by humans. Don’t lose sight of the end user. The success of your application or service is determined by the satisfaction of those end users.

Don’t just interact with users at the ideation and product requirements level. Rather, actively involve them every step of the way. Take time to assess and understand the user’s issues, challenges, priorities, and constraints. Use this knowledge to define key performance indicators (KPIs) and continuous feedback throughout the DevOps toolchain.

Orchestrate Continuous Delivery

Given the work that goes into preparing and deploying a release, there’s always a tendency to hold back and bundle numerous application enhancements into a single release. Perhaps, the intention is to deliver releases that have a high impact. However, deploying large infrequent releases is a recipe for poor quality and failure.  Furthermore, a lack of skilled development, testing and delivery personnel means that many organizations struggle to release software in a repeatable and reliable manner.  This is a key driver towards an increased need for orchestration and automation.

Orchestrating continuous delivery is a relatively new way of thinking about and delivering business applications across the enterprise. It focuses on continuous improvement, continuous integration, and ensuring you are always ready to deliver what the business needs. In this new environment, release control and deployment automation are critical to ensure smooth delivery and provide a basis for governance.

Final Thoughts on DevOps Best Practices

As more enterprises implement DevOps, they must recognize this will be a long-term commitment. Unlike ITIL, Lean, or Agile development, DevOps is more a philosophy directing how you work, rather than a rigid set of practices.

No organization will reach a state where it can comfortably say it has perfected its DevOps best practices model. Instead, it must continuously experiment with new processes, capabilities, and tools identifying those that can yield the highest possible integration across the entire DevOps toolchain to deliver the best value for the business.

How Micro Focus Products Support DevOps Best Practices

Micro Focus helps customers scale DevOps practices across hybrid IT environments with quality and security built in at every step. Instead of ‘ripping and replacing’, our customers enhance and transform their proven technology. They increase the value of these IT investments by bridging old and new technologies to enable the enterprise to navigate change faster, with less risk and with clear time-to-value advantages.

No two customers are the same and none will share an identical IT infrastructure, so Micro Focus begins by understanding where each customer is on their Enterprise DevOps journey. We then provide guidance on scaling DevOps practices, and integrating the toolchain from mainframe to mobile.

We believe it’s imperative to think big and start small. Look at the system holistically, understand where the constraints are, and remove them one-by-one. We are the only vendor to provide an integrated, end-to-end application lifecycle management solution built for any methodology, technology, and delivery model.

Learn more about Micro Focus Enterprise DevOps products and solutions.

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