Path to DevOps #2: The Benefits (And The Risks)

Welcome to the second blog post of a three-part series on the subject of DevOps!

In the first part of our DevOps series, we discussed what DevOps is. (Briefly, it’s short for “development operations” and it brings together development engineers and operations pros to improve teamwork, processes, and output throughout the entire lifecycle of a service.)

Now, we’ll talk about the major benefits of DevOps, as well as some of the risks and difficulties.

Continuous Integration with Faster Delivery Time So You Can “Get to Market”

Getting things done faster is something we need in most aspects of life; this is definitely the case in the software development world!

Using DevOps processes, like the Agile workflow, can mean faster delivery of features, as well as more stable operating environments, and improved communication and collaboration. (More on that in the following sections.)

The numbers back this up. In their “State of DevOps Report,” Puppet details that high-performing DevOps organizations see:

  • 200x more frequent deploys
  • 24x faster recovery times
  • 3x lower change failure rates

This increased speed often improves efficiency and ROI. In essence, using Agile principles means faster development of software and more frequent delivery.

Code Authority’s work with the College Football Playoff is a testament to this desire for faster, more efficient development. In 2015 — only two months before the start of the season — the CFP decision-makers identified their need for a secure, reliable software solution with high-level quality assurance that made the voting process fast and efficient.

When Code Authority won the project, we conducted rigorous requirement gathering and testing before building the new CFP software. Once it was ready to go, we ensured it was highly secure and fast. In addition, we developed unique support services to ensure that voting sessions were issue-free and error-free.

Pro Tip: Faster, more frequent releases can lead to much heavier workloads for QA and release management teams. If you’re implementing more automation to get to market faster, make sure to consider the impact on all teams.

Transparency, Accountability, and Productivity

Essentially, by utilizing the Agile methodology, all departments should be collaborating and communicating more efficiently — so the software engineers, QA and IT personnel are all productive and accountable.

Some of the important benefits to your team include:

  • Happier, more productive teams
  • Higher employee engagement
  • Greater professional development opportunities

Software engineers are now much more accountable in “owning their code,” since they’re building and maintaining it on a continuous basis. When other teammates end up working on the code, well-kept documentation and clear communication can keep things running smoothly.

Any issues that may arise are usually less complicated because change sets are smaller. And there’s less time needed to wait for other teams to troubleshoot and fix the problem. The DevOps environment means that the entire team is responsible for delivering both new features and stability on time.

Always Working, Testing, and Monitoring

The benefits of continuous service — including release and deployment, maintenance, testing, and monitoring — create a smooth workflow and enable:

  • Continuous, faster software development
  • Less complicated to manage
  • More stable operating environments
  • More communication and collaboration
  • Faster resolution of problems by QA and IT
  • More time to innovate

Basically, the product is being cared for constantly by all teams. Earlier detection and faster correction of any defects result in both an improved process and product.

BroadJump is a company focused on providing pricing transparency across the medical supplies and equipment industry. They came to Code Authority to create a built-from-scratch solution, facing an accelerated timeline.

After an extensive (but rapid) design and architecture phase, the team used continuous service during the development phase. The final product was a 100% cloud-based solution — delivered in a secure and fast fashion — that met BroadJump’s every need.

Increased Effectiveness, Quality, and ROI

Thanks to the adoption of more and more DevOps tools and processes, many software development departments are reducing wasted time and effort. With more productive workers who are able to focus on doing what they do best, everyone on the team benefits:

  • With more time to focus, quality improves. (And team members do more of what they’re good at.)
  • Less repetitive tasks and error fixes make for time savings and happier people.
  • Clients feel that their investment is justified as they see the team’s efficiency in producing high-quality products.

Not only will the client appreciate the ROI, your teams will feel good about the investment of their time, skills and efforts in helping to meet the client’s needs.

Avoiding the Potential Risks of DevOps

Implementing new tools and procedures can always have not-so-positive effects.

Not everybody is ready for — or willing to — make changes in the way they do their job. Even if just a few people resist changes or don’t adapt to them, it can snowball into bigger problems.

Here are a few ways to manage or avoid these kinds of risks:

  • Consider if and why you need new DevOps tools and procedures. What results are you hoping to achieve? (Create and define metrics that you want to track.)
  • Make sure that the team understands the benefits of these changes — both for the employees and the company.
  • Introduce new/modified responsibilities slowly and explain them clearly.
  • Understand that these changes may take time to be truly effective. And they may not be the perfect solution either — modifications may be necessary.
  • Check in with your team on a regular basis to monitor adoption and their satisfaction. Are they being held accountable for their work? Do they have suggestions for improvements?
  • With faster processes and faster releases, make sure that scheduling and workloads are realistic. You should be able to accomplish more at a higher rate of speed — but you don’t want to overload your people either.

What’s Next?

We’ve talked about what DevOps are, and now we’ve covered their benefits (and potential risks).

Next up — how you can begin incorporating DevOps tools and practices for custom software development!

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