Five essential guidelines for successfully introducing DevOps projects

 

We can trace the origins of DevOps approaches all the way back to the late 1990s, so there is nothing fundamentally new about them. However, many projects are still failing to reach the desired outcome. Drawing on its own experiences with numerous DevOps projects for customers, ConSol presents five points that need to be considered.

 

There will always be a conflict of interest between development and operations at first. Developers value creativity and flexibility; IT operators prioritize stability and availability. If developers and IP operators are collaborating on designing, developing, testing, and operating applications as part of a DevOps strategy, this requires not only organizational changes but also an entirely different culture. This also means, for example, that the members of the team need to accommodate the requirements and processes related to both development and operations. The management should actively address the change in the company culture during the initial phase of a DevOps project in order to reliably prevent conflicts within the multi-disciplinary team.

It is clear that DevOps projects bring numerous benefits in the medium and long term if executed successfully, from higher quality and more flexibility through to faster software release life cycles and cost savings. However, this is only possible if you make the necessary upfront investment, which companies often do not do. All companies should be aware of the fact that introducing a DevOps project requires greater IT-related spending at first. This is why the management level of the company needs to be actively involved in DevOps projects from the get-go, supporting all decisions to make necessary investments over the long term.

Development and production processes are considerably different from each other. For example, production teams always use applications that are integrated into a larger system environment. In contrast, developers often work independently – on their own desktops or notebooks – on a software solution that doesn’t have the necessary connection to an SAP system, for example. In such cases, it is usually too expensive to provide the developer with an SAP single-user license. The developer therefore does without having SAP access, which in turn means that all errors in the software solution remain unfixable. Using a simulation environment is a solution to this impasse. However, many companies still refrain from using this solution, even though it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. Indeed, cost-efficient open-source products are available, such as Citrus from ConSol (www.citrusframework.org), a platform-independent framework that can be used flexibly for all kinds of technologies and protocols. 

It is necessary, of course, to maximize the number of processes that are automated in order to take full advantage of DevOps. However, manual tasks are often still necessary on a daily basis, especially when it comes to testing. Various departments often test the functional integrity of an app manually, which is very work-intensive. This goes against the spirit of the DevOps approach, which should actually help companies release software solutions more quickly. Some companies stick to using manual procedures because many testing tools are expensive to use. But more can be done here. Open source solutions are available, offering a comprehensive testing functionality, from functions and load tests through to performance and end-to-end tests.

Companies often deal with development, integration, and production environments separately, even when DevOps structures are in place. They use specific tools dedicated to each area without interlinking them together. This is once again contrary to the spirit of the DevOps concept, which is all about integration. Companies need to aim to create a centralized network, but many do not realize that there are ways to do this. They hold onto the mistaken belief that they can only use tools in the OpenShift or Ansible environment.

Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC), the market analysis and consulting company belonging to the CXP Group, also urges companies to bring software development and IT operations more closely together in order to handle growing demands on flexibility, agility, and speed in the business environment more effectively. Joachim Hackmann, Principal Consultant Software & Related Services, explains: “The ability to offer shorter innovation cycles is becoming crucial for companies to stay competitive in the digital age. Agile development methods such as Scrum and extreme programming are suitable ways to develop software quickly. However, whatever time is saved by using these methods often goes to waste due to the sluggish transition into the operation phase. Almost 30 percent of IT managers that we surveyed as part of a current DevOps survey complained about inefficiencies arising due to a lack of coordination between testing and target environments, for example. Improving the level of automation can help. In fact, 58 percent of users with experience in DevOps projects are planning to make or considering making investments in tools and platforms that will improve testing, for example.”

 

Additional information on DevOps from PAC study

PAC conducted a survey of 82 IT managers responsible for IT operations and/or software development, entitled ‘DevOps – Reality Check in German Companies,’ as part of a multi-client study in September and October 2015. The company also conducted in-depth interviews with IT managers. ConSol is a gold sponsor of this study.

Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) was founded in 1976 and has been a part of the CXP Group since June 2014. The CXP Group is a leading independent European market analysis and consulting company for the software and IT service industries as well as issues related to digitization.