What CIOs Need to Know About DevOps

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog post by Alan Sharp-Paul, co-founder and co-CEO of ScriptRock.

There is no doubt that the DevOps movement has gone mainstream. When even IBM and HP are dedicating sites to it there is no longer any question. If we were to place it on the Gartner Hype Cycle, even the most devoted proponents would have to admit that it’s rapidly approaching the “Peak of Inflated Expectations.”

What does this mean for you as a CIO? Should you steer clear of the movement entirely until things calm down a bit? Not at all. Should you be cautious in your approach to “implementing” DevOps though? Absolutely.

With vendors piling into an area that remains poorly defined, the risk of making a misstep on strategy is high. It cannot be ignored though, the rewards in IT efficiency and quality improvements of well implemented DevOps initiatives are high. In a world of diminishing margins, any opportunity for competitive advantage must be explored.

So, what are some key lessons that have already emerged?

1. Define DevOps Correctly

DevOps is any effort within an organization to align the goals of developers and operations staff within an organization. In practice this can be cultural or process driven. It can be enabled by, but should not be centered on, the implementation of certain tools, particularly automation tools.

2. Collaboration First, Especially for Tools

As mentioned above, your DevOps initiative should not be tool driven. This said, tools can assist the process. Always remember that collaboration must come first though. Automation tools, for example, are a key element of most DevOps strategies. When implemented within a silo they risk doing more harm than good. An automation tool chosen and championed purely by your development team is a perfect example of getting this wrong. Involving developers in operations is a good thing but if done without either buy in or input from ops themselves, it is bound to cause problems.

3. Don't Create Another Team

Whilst focus and specialization are good in and of themselves, they can backfire for your DevOps initiative. Creating a separate DevOps team is not just a bad idea, it is counterproductive. The point of DevOps is to share responsibility. Outsourcing DevOps to a specific team means it becomes someone else's problem for the rest of your staff. DevOps must be everyone’s responsibility, everyone’s initiative and, ultimately, everyone’s success.

 4. It's Not Just DevOps

Poor collaboration and conflicting goals are far from isolated problems within IT. If only they were issues between developers and operations. The fact is that it's a problem across the board. If you take DevOps as just that, a Dev and Ops problem, then you are ignoring the bigger picture. Do your devs have nothing but kind words for your QA staff? Do your operations staff regularly sing the praises of security? Are your architects loved by anyone but themselves? Treat DevOps as a starting point for solving these problems. Don't let the term constrain your thinking.

5. Don't Throw Away ITIL

As an Enterprise CIO you will have seen the positive effect an ITIL implementation can have on an organization. When implemented correctly, and pragmatically, ITIL brings order where chaos reigned. DevOps devotees may wince at the perceived constraints but we know that the processes now form an essential part of most organizations. Over time, improved collaboration and automation will reduce your reliance on ITIL processes. At Enterprise scale though they will not replace them. Most large companies who succeed with DevOps will do so on a foundation of ITIL.

Be Cautious, Not Afraid

Nascent as the DevOps movement may still be, especially for the Enterprise, some clear lessons have already emerged. Understanding these before starting may be the difference between success and failure for your DevOps initiative and, ultimately, your entire IT strategy.

Alan Sharp-Paul is the co-founder of ScriptRock. He is a DevOps enthusiast and a process purist. Before starting ScriptRock, he spent his life in Corporate IT at companies like Expedia, Lloyds and CBA.

To learn more, download the free ebook on DevOps for CIO’s from ScriptRock.

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