Developing a Value-Generating DevOps Culture

Construction of a Watercraft

Imagine constructing a boat that is capable of achieving the mission of safeguarding the ongoing growth and increasing shareholder value of your business. It is imperative to remember that the vessel must be secure, reliable and built to the utmost industry standards for now and the coming twenty years.

And this ship has to set sail on time and within budget. Additionally, we need to produce 10 additional boats before the year is through.

It is essential that we determine the most effective method of launching this vessel before commencing construction. Without a means of leaving the dock, the boat’s purpose is rendered useless. Additionally, due to the strict specifications of the boat, it is likely to be more challenging to launch a larger vessel.

Despite not having had any experience in boatbuilding, I envision that constructing a vessel is akin to the process of creating software. The necessity of safety and reliability increases as the size of the organisation and the significance of its objectives become greater. Both of these tasks are complex and require the utmost skill and precision.

However, I’ve verified that it works well on the PC I’m using right now.

Historically, the responsibilities of designing software and providing ongoing support and maintenance have been divided between separate teams. Consider the production environment as the open sea, containing potential hazards such as pirates, sharks, concealed reefs and unexpected customer complaints. Any time there is a significant interruption in service, IT managers will be able to attest to the lack of communication between software engineers and system administrators.

When discussing the development of software, it is often the case that more time is devoted to the pre-production stages than the deployment of such software. At the start of a project, it is essential to consider factors such as the product specifications, the resources available (e.g. programmers and testers), the viability of specific technologies, and the timescale for completion. Once these considerations are taken into account, the project can finally commence. However, the method used to enter into production is not something that we are responsible for.

Like trying to float a battleship by constructing it in the middle of a baseball field. The same goes for “IT” when (surprise!) it does not work.

In DevOps, the first step is to construct a runway. To start releasing code as quickly and safely as possible into production, while also automating as many routine processes as feasible along the way.

It is important to note that simply beginning to write code does not necessarily mean that it should be distributed immediately. Rather, it is necessary to thoroughly evaluate each step of the process in order to guarantee that the final product, which could be either a software application or a boat, is error-free and secure.

However, just 25% of companies have taken the first step toward fully embracing DevOps principles and practises.

So Tell Me, What Can I Do?

In order to ensure that value is continually delivered from code commit to production, it is essential to adopt DevOps techniques. However, this may necessitate a change in mindset and behaviour amongst employees within the organisation.

DevOps is the combination of software engineering and IT operations into one role, designed to streamline and support the process of Continuous Delivery (CD). It involves the integration of all stages of software development – from initial concept to deployment – into a single workflow. Automation can be employed to help ensure high performance, auditability, security, quality and stability.

Ideally, a DevOps engineer should have a wide range of technical skills, from software programming to managing servers and environments to handling databases. They are not the code writers, but rather the ones who are responsible for overseeing the development and deployment of the application code. Therefore, a DevOps engineer needs to be highly adaptable and versatile, as well as willing to learn and develop new tools. The duties of a DevOps engineer are much more than just administration; they are essentially the problem-solvers and maintainers of the continuous delivery process, ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

Skills often found in a DevOps engineer include:

  • Programming languages for scripting and automation, including Python, Bash, Powershell, Ruby, and Perl.
  • Tools like Ansible, Puppet, Chef, and Kubernetes are used to manage virtual machines and containers like VMWare and Vagrant or Docker.
  • Management of cloud services, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
  • Utilising orchestration technologies such as Jenkins, Travis, and Bamboo, it is possible to achieve continuous integration with services such as Github, Gitlab, Bitbucket, and Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS). These technologies and services provide a powerful combination for streamlining the development process.
  • Familiarity with RESTful APIs, API administration, and microservice designs.
  • Knowledge of automated testing principles and practises, including familiarity with Selenium and other test automation tools and frameworks.
  • Knowledge with Java and C++ is helpful.

In spite of the large number of Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) solutions available on the market, the core DevOps soft skills such as customer-focusedness, the ability to quickly acquire knowledge, understanding of the needs of other team members, and the capacity to look at the broader perspective are still as relevant as they ever were.

An Industrial Romance

Taking a line from Eugene Kim, the author of The Phoenix Project:

The Technology Department presents a significant danger to the company’s capacity to accomplish its goals in the fields of strategy, operations, financial reporting, and regulatory compliance. In this modern era, it is essential for every organisation to also be a technology firm.

It is no longer feasible for information technology to operate as a discrete department, separate from the rest of the organisation. In every instance where a customer, be they internal or external, expects to obtain a benefit from the business, IT must be wholly integrated into the process.

In order to demonstrate, imagine an assembly line in which the customer’s requirements are the input and the output is a benefit to the customer. If the process takes too long to produce any tangible results, the line will have to be paused frequently to share information or wait for a response. By utilising a value stream map to track the journey from the moment a customer’s concept is captured to the moment they experience a resolution or feel they have received value, it is possible to identify areas of opportunity. This activity allows us to ask questions such as: Are any steps unnecessary? How long is spent on each procedure in total?

Make sure that your business is a reliable source of value. The goal of DevOps is to create a seamless integration of development and operation.

As a consequence, technology partners must be aware that their position within the organisation must be adapted. They are not merely a support mechanism for the company, but instead occupy a critical role in a sophisticated operation that is designed to drive profit. To ensure this process is as efficient and straightforward as possible, it is necessary to analyse some of the more established practices that could lead to delays and complications. Additionally, it is important to be considerate and understanding towards those who may be reluctant to embrace any changes.

Making changes can be challenging, particularly in long-standing organisations. A good way to begin is by looking at how small-scale adaptations can save money and time. For instance, introducing a DevOps team member into a development project could facilitate more frequent releases, or utilising one of the many cloud platforms specifically designed for DevOps-friendly systems could demonstrate the reduced costs in comparison to operating an on-premise security system. Presenting this evidence to decision-makers may help to make the case for instituting these changes.

Just Tell Us How We Can Assist!

In order to provide our largest corporate clients with the best possible service, we have integrated DevOps engineers into their teams. This has been a beneficial move not only because it expedites and enhances the safety of product delivery to customers, but also because it encourages businesses to progress through the adoption of Continuous Delivery and the DevOps mindset.

At Works, we take great pride in our rigorous hiring process for ensuring the highest quality of candidates. This year, out of a total of 46,500 applications, we have only selected the top 1% of applicants. Our selection criteria is stringent and requires candidates to demonstrate advanced knowledge of the required skillset, along with high levels of aptitude and familiarity with fundamental concepts and industry best practices. We are confident that when you work with us, you can rest assured that you will be provided with the very best service.

We are committed to helping businesses embrace the DevOps culture, and to demonstrate this we are offering a discount on any sustained engagement if you hire our DevOps engineers to work with you. If you would like to take advantage of this offer, simply mention this thread and I will be in touch.

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