Switching to DevOps

DevOps is a hot topic in the tech industry. While definitions vary, the basic idea behind DevOps is to merge developers and operations staff to deliver time-to-market applications quicker with a variety of automation tools. Switching to a DevOps work environment isn’t always a smooth process, however, since it requires a shift in culture as much as technology. Here are a handful of tips to help ease the migration.

Have a vision

Before revising business operations, it is important to have a carefully defined vision for a company. Questions to consider include how long the transition will take? How will it benefit the enterprise in the long-term? And what impact will it have on various departments? In short: have a roadmap before making the move.

Piecemeal the transition

Shifting to a DevOps model doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it is a piecemeal process. Instead of immediately breaking down barriers between departments, for example, companies can begin by identifying and resolving smaller problems, such as bottlenecks in the production line. This can help establish trust among staff as greater challenges are addressed moving forward.

Invest in the right tools

Anyone embracing a DevOps work environment ought to familiarize themselves with a variety of automation tools, which can help free up operations staff. Not all tools are the same, however. Mismatched tools can result in bottlenecks, creating communication barriers between software developers and operations staff. Among some of the most popular automation tools in use today include Puppet, SaltStack, Chef, Docker and Ansible.

Train staff

Transitioning to a DevOps culture will disrupt typical business operations. Consequently, it is equally important to invest in staff who will bear the brunt of the transition. People will need to learn about the details of software like Puppet and Chef as repetitive tasks prone to human error are assigned to these automation tools. Staff should be trained to know what to expect, where they fit in the process, how to communicate effectively and the long-term goals of the changeover. It can also be beneficial to bring a DevOps specialist on board to cultivate positive relationships between departments.

Leverage metrics

Change is almost always met with resistance, including changing to DevOps. To counter this resistance, those spearheading the transition can use their automation tools to provide metrics that justify the switch. Performance metrics can be reviewed and shared with anyone, continuously keeping tabs on the transition. They can also be used to ensure everyone is on the same page as the workforce is re-aligned to follow a DevOps model by forging better collaboration among coworkers through shared insights.

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