The term "DevOps" pops up frequently in IT, but there is a lot of confusion and misconception about what it really is. DevOps goes beyond being a process or tool that someone can license, buy or install: it’s a culture built from a combination of ideas, philosophies, and practices that allow organizations to deliver applications and services at a high velocity.
One way to understand DevOps is using the "CAMS" acronym:
- Culture: DevOps culture involves putting people and business processes first.
- Automation: Once an understanding of how people work in an organization is in place, the next step is to start automating processes to improve efficiency.
- Measurement: Measuring key performance and process metrics is essential to knowing where DevOps is working and where it's still necessary to improve.
- Sharing: DevOps culture encourages people to share problems and ideas to solve them.
An alternative way to look at DevOps is using the idea of "ICE," which stands for using inclusion, complexity, and empathy to create an environment that improves communication between everyone involved with a product. For example, ICE connects programmers and system administrators to marketing and finance professionals while finding ways to tackle complex systems and understanding the needs of users and customers.
Business Benefits of a DevOps Culture
Creating a DevOps culture helps break down departmental silos that hinder immediate and continuous deployment of 99.99 software. DevOps and Agile complement each other since Agile involves tearing down the wall between business and IT. The ultimate goal of DevOps is to deliver applications rapidly, reliably and according to the highest priority needs of users.
Improving organizational communication helps to ensure the most efficient use of resources to deliver a viable product. This can only occur when there is a culture of open communication, collaboration, transparency and empowerment amongst all departments (not just development and operations).
IT Leadership Attributes That Drive Change
DevOps requires a cultural shift. It begins with having an engaged leader who can guide others to embrace the DevOps principles. Here are some of the key attributes of a transformational leader, as outlined in the "2017 State of DevOps Report."
Leaders must know where their organization as a whole is heading. They should have a clear vision of the organization's goals for the next five years.
2. Inspirational Communication
Transformational leaders must be able to communicate in a way that inspires and motivates their team. They should convey their message clearly even when the environment is changing rapidly.
3. Intellectual Stimulation
The best leaders challenge those who follow them to think about problems in new ways. This approach can lead to innovative solutions.
4. Supportive Leadership
As well as leading and inspiring their followers, leaders also need to offer support. People working in IT have personal needs that management must address to allow them to work at their best.
5. Personal Recognition
When people perform well, leaders should recognize their achievements. A personal approach is often best; leaders should directly praise people who have done outstanding work.
Generating a high-trust culture which supports experimentation and innovation is key to embracing DevOps and reaping the rewards. Without a culture change, this movement is not effective. People must overcome confusion and cynicism around DevOps and fully embrace its principles to ensure success.