How to succeed at DevOps? Lessons and considerations from DevOps unicorns!

24 / Jul / 2017 by Dwiza Saha 0 comments

Faster time to market, shorter release cycles, continuous integration, and deployment are some of the biggest benefits that organizations embracing DevOps receive. DevOps space has evolved over the period with containers and microservices taking the center stage. Docker, Puppet, and Chef are some of the leading players that have revolutionized DevOps. With DevOps, automation and testing are increasingly being shifted and implemented towards the left of the delivery pipeline which helps to identify issues early in the cycle to contain cost.

In 2015, Gartner predicted that DevOps practice will evolve from niche to mainstream enterprise wide strategy. Today it has become a standard mode of working for organizations and increasingly more enterprises are keen to adapt to DevOps practices with the result that DevOps adoption has risen significantly from 66% in 2015 to 74% in 2016. As organizations realize the benefits that DevOps can accrue in the long term, they are looking for DevOps consulting services to help them analyze their current situation and provide them with a road map for their journey towards becoming a DevOps empowered company.  CIOs and CTOs should consider using DevOps with Cloud as it makes the entire process more efficient.

Who are DevOps Unicorns?

The likes of Amazon, Netflix, Etsy, LinkedIn, Google, Walmart, Facebook and Adobe who have leveraged DevOps well across the organization.

Outlined below are the two success stories of Netflix and Nordstrom

Netflix- They underwent a transformative journey when Yury Izrailevsky, Netflix’s Vice President of Cloud Computing and Platform Engineering, decided to make the transition from a data center based architecture to a cloud-based DevOps model. And, this single most important transition has helped Netflix become who they are, engaging almost 100 million users worldwide, and managing network spikes without any glitches.

The DevOps advantage for Netflix

  • 85% decrease in cost/stream
  • More cost effective than centralized IT
  • 100X improvement in scalability

Nordstrom - Nordstrom’s development model was following the traditional waterfall model. They used to follow big batch releases and lots of shared services when the retailer underwent rewriting its in-store consumer facing application. The program did not perform and became irrelevant by the time it was released. According to Courtney Kissler, Vice President of e-commerce and store technologies, “It was a big wake up call for us as an organization that we had to figure out a way to deliver in this new context.”

Nordstrom finally decided to embrace DevOps after surfacing the reasons behind mobile’s 22- to 28-week lead time. They broke down the silos between the teams and migrated to continuous planning and a single backlog of work. DevOps helped them in improving the build quality, their throughput went up, and releases went from twice per year to monthly.

However, not all organizations that have adopted DevOps, are a truly DevOps empowered organization. Startups, for example, struggle to successfully implement DevOps.

Here’s a checklist for CIOs and CTOs to see if they are able to leverage DevOps well.

  • Investment in DevOps toolchain should be preceded by internal transformation

Automating pipeline is not just about investing in the right tools. It is true that without automation your collaboration efforts would fall flat. A configuration tool, a build system, and a test system make your DevOps journey much easier, however, most unicorns haven’t accomplished this overnight by just investing in the tools. It is important to internalize the DevOps as a concept among teams and break the legacy silos to bring together a more collaborative culture among the Development, Operations, and the test teams. Netflix didn’t achieve what it did overnight. It was a cohesive effort between the teams, smart automation coupled with the common goal of minimum downtime during peak hours.

Ian Head, Research Director at Gartner, estimates that “by 2018, 90% of I&O organizations attempting to use DevOps without specifically addressing their cultural foundations will fail.”

  • Using checklists for code deployment should stop with automation

DevOps is based on the premise of automation. You need to raise a red flag and consider choosing a DevOps partner if you are dependent on manual agendas or run books to manage your system and code organization. As DevOps aims to cut down release times, achieve faster go-to market and increase productivity, automation of redundant tasks become the central pillar of DevOps culture. Most companies that have been able to succeed at DevOps automate their deployments, testing, server builds, configuration management and the entire delivery pipeline.

  • Releasing codes to production shouldn’t still be a rare phenomenon

All DevOps companies resort to DevOps primarily to identify bugs faster and to increase the frequency of their code release cycle. If your IT department is still releasing codes to production say once in a few months’ time, you need to go for DevOps consulting services to identify and plug the gap.

DevOps stems from Agile Methodology and the DevOps Continuous Continuum forms DevOps Principles of Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment. The automation tools are important prerequisites for organizations aiming for continuous deployment. These automation tools ensure that codes produced are in a continuous deployment state with minimal human intervention and aims to release small changes on a frequent basis. DevOps Unicorns such as Amazon release codes every 11.7 seconds and Netflix releases codes 1000 times per day on an average. The path to becoming DevOps ready is to aim for releasing production ready codes that go through automated testing and directly to the production server in the shortest possible time. Enterprise CTOs and CIOs should consider opting for DevOps-as-a-service if their DevOps efforts are not adding up to provide faster release cycle.

  •  Be tolerant to failures and mistakes with a collaborative culture

If your organization has set out to adopt DevOps, then it is essential that you get ready for the big culture shift. Prior to DevOps phenomenon, delayed delivery and bugs were a tacit expectation. However, adopting DevOps doesn’t equate with zero percent error. DevOps is a practice that cultivates the culture of learning from mistakes and evolving with it along with collaboration between concerned departments.

In order to emulate a true DevOps culture, organizations need to be open to scope for improvement and provide a margin for error. You might be automating using the right mix of tools and releasing production ready codes frequently, but you are still not DevOps ready and should consider DevOps Consulting if your Dev and Ops team have no free communication and are not open to identifying errors and fixing them. One of the foremost tenets of the DevOps culture is a collaboration between Dev, Ops, and testing team to figure out issues and fix them before they reach the production environment.

CIO action points

According to an IDC report, downtime costs for infrastructure failure can be as high as $100,000 an hour for a Fortune 1,000 company. The costs are even higher for mission critical applications. This should serve as an eye opener for enterprise CIOs and CTOs to consider adopting DevOps.

As per 2016 State of the DevOps Report, DevOps Companies are deploying applications 200X faster and also enjoy 24X faster recovery from failure.  However, the journey towards DevOps is far from an overnight transition.

Specifically for large organizations, they need to slowly make a transition -supporting legacy systems while moving to microservices, traditional application release as well as Continuous delivery pipelines, on premise as well as on-cloud infrastructure. The journey towards becoming a DevOps Unicorn is not an easy one, but certainly doable.

If you have some more considerations in mind, feel free to share them in the comments below.

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