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Best practices for successful DevOps

devops concept
(Image credit: Getty)

When an organisation drives rapid innovations and changes through a repeatable cycle of analysing, building, testing, and deploying, it is referred to as DevOps (opens in new tab). Unsurprisingly, many large enterprises have applications and services that span the mainframe, cloud, and everything in between. 

However, these enterprises often find that practicing DevOps in a complex environment with a multitude of dependencies can lead to uncertain, unpredictable, and unintended results. 

Therefore, it is important for organisations to understand DevOps and implement best practices, so they can reap all of the benefits it has to offer.

The key benefits of DevOps

devops diagram

The DevOps workflow. (Image credit: Getty)

For organisations wanting to expand, incorporating DevOps is necessary, as it significantly drives growth and innovation. It plays a key role in helping enterprises deploy new systems, processes, and applications faster and with greater efficiency.

Enterprise DevOps is driven by the need to develop and deliver software faster, to win and retain customers, without compromising quality. Additionally, it helps them understand the competing motivations of development and operations teams. While the pressure of delivery does not override the necessity of stability, a DevOps mindset believes that both can be achieved with effective coordination of people, processes, and products.  

There is a strong correlation between the speed and agility of software development and an organisation’s overall success. Often, DevOps teams move fast, and implement lean, direct toolchains, which enable a resilient path from change initiation to deployment. 

Enterprise DevOps radically enhances current processes and practices, positioning enterprises for growth and continuity. Businesses operating effectively are positioned to deliver a competitive differentiation through quickly responding to customers’ changing needs, providing enhanced quality of digital products and services.

Despite the benefits, there are many organisations that have unsystematic or incomplete DevOps adoption. 

For example, according to Puppet’s State of DevOps 2021 report (opens in new tab), many organisations have invested in technical processes such as automation, with 67 percent of respondents reporting their team has automated almost all repetitive tasks. However, this does not address the organisational silos and misaligned incentives around deploying software for DevOps.

A further 58 percent of respondents said multiple handoffs between teams are required before product deployments, meaning organisations can be left with a fragmented process. This fails to gain all of the potential benefits that come with employing DevOps principles at scale.

Building DevOps at scale

DevOps happens while dozens of heterogeneous teams manage their own deployments – often at different paces and with varying processes. Teams that have successfully mastered a DevOps transformation usually have three traits in common:

1. Sharing data and communicating

Too often, groups that deliver technology do not communicate well and are rarely integrated. Many tend to work in silos, with each supporting a separate technology stack. When they do come together, a lot of the data is either manually collected or incomplete – or both.

Many successful DevOps transformations break down silos by using standard tools and sharing data. To better meet accurate timeline and end-user needs, DevOps teams should share security with technology, operations and service management teams, or work towards one gold data standard.

2. Getting change management right

One of the only aspects that remains constant with DevOps is change management. In fact, Hanover Research (opens in new tab) conducted a survey which looked at the integration of operations and service management. 

When asked about the most significant challenges faced in managing their practices, 41 percent of respondents said it was a lack of familiarity with change management procedures, 39 percent said it was insufficient infrastructure for endpoint monitoring, and 38 percent reported  incomplete information to make IT service management decisions.

When it comes to improving the speed and effectiveness of change management processes, data analytics plays a valuable role. By effectively incorporating change management, an organisation is presented with the opportunity to predict whether a process will perform as it should, and foresee unintended consequences elsewhere in the infrastructure, all while enabling seamless operations. 

According to the research, 78 percent of organisations have implemented change management analytics and more than three quarters report past use of change management to inform decisions that positively impact the IT service management positioning.

With continuous speed and targeted incremental changes, a multidimensional complex system can be made more reliable. For example, teams are able to streamline deployment and maintain service availability by using tools that automatically map application and infrastructure dependencies. 

Additionally, this works alongside artificial intelligence driven processes which automate testing, which is particularly important, as 622 percent of developers agree that the ability to automate testing will increase the quality of their organisations’ applications by 23 percent.

Getting buy-in from key stakeholders

Essentially, all DevOps principles centre around improving the communication and coordination between operations and development. That being said, they often do not include IT service management teams. The internal and external customer experience has to be considered, as the end goal is faster, and there is a need for higher-quality software deliveries. All of this is managed by the service desk.

A top priority for executives is to integrate IT service management and operations management. According to the Hanover survey, the involvement of chief information officers (CIOs) across both domains has risen from 39 percent to 55 percent since 2019. In addition, chief technical offers (CTOs) involvement has increased from 41 percent to 55 percent, and participation from IT directors has risen from 43 percent to 54 percent.

Enterprise DevOps is widely adopted as it is incredibly valuable for businesses that strive towards becoming an Autonomous Digital Enterprise (ADE), where intelligent tech-enabled systems operate with minimal human involvement, across every facet of the organisation and its ecosystem of partners. A growth-oriented ADE delivers value with competitive differentiation enabled by agility, customer centricity, and actionable insights. 

Enterprise DevOps enables organisations to drive continuous improvement by pushing DevOps principles onto surrounding processes. In turn, this drives business agility, optimises rapid continuous delivery of applications and services, and allows the enterprise to embrace cultural and behavioural change to create a frictionless environment for success.

When implemented effectively, and with careful management of the competing needs of both development and operations teams, DevOps positions enterprises to deliver competitive differentiation, with flexibility to respond quickly to customers’ ever-changing needs.

Margaret Lee is Senior Vice President and General Manager at Digital Service and Operations Management for BMC Software (opens in new tab).

Margaret Lee
Margaret Lee

Margaret Lee is senior vice president and general manager of Digital Service and Operations Management for BMC Software, Inc. She has P&L responsibility for the company’s full suite of BMC Helix solutions for IT service management and IT operations management. Before joining BMC, Margaret was the general manager for data services at Mapbox, a SaaS platform for mapping, location data, and navigation, supporting a variety of consumer and enterprise applications.