Individual Solutions Agile Software Development
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5 tips for the transition to DevOps

DevOps has become one of the best-known terms in the IT industry. What DevOps means and how system administration and development benefit from it.

DevOps Engineering: Developing new principles

Key driver of this trend is modern technology and declining hardware costs, allowing globally distributed application infrastructures to be set up with a fraction of the previous effort. This creates an expectation among the clients of these systems for quality, flexibility and frequency of deployment, which system administration and development must converge to meet.

The development of new focus areas

In the late nineties and the first decade of the new millennium, IT looked very different from today. Hardware was often ordered by phone, the IT department had special teams that took care of the maintenance and operation of the infrastructure. At the same time, there was a team responsible for providing the operating systems and software.

Software development in those years was very hardware-driven. Analysts first described the technical and functional requirements, based on which the software was then developed to "fit". New releases were delivered every two to three months outside of operating hours. Only then did another team in turn test the software. Developers, testers and system administrators were groups that worked largely independently of each other.

DevOps and agile software development: Interdisciplinary cooperation

With the increasing popularity of agile software development the situation has changed fundamentally in recent years. Agile methods follow an adaptive and iterative approach in which small software packages are continuously delivered and directly tested. The development, delivery and testing of the software are thus no longer separated in time. In this way, functional software is made ready for use more quickly and errors are avoided.

DevOps Definition: Development and IT Operations

In order to implement this successfully in practice, the idea of DevOps was born. The artificial word consists of the terms Development and IT Operations. This is intended to help IT solve the challenges of integration by bringing developers, testers and system administrators closer together. In the spirit of agile development, this constellation should lead to functions being delivered and tested quickly.

DevOps then take a holistic approach to ensure not only functionality but also operational operability, thus completing the end-to-end software delivery cycle. The cross-functional teams control the entire process chain from development, testing and configuration to the delivery of a finished release.

DevOps principles: A new way of thinking

In practice, there are many different interpretations of the DevOps approach. In essence, however, the various forms are united by a common basic idea: it refers not only to the team of developers, testers and system administrators, but also to the way of thinking on which the cross-departmental cooperation of the teams is based. Incidentally, this also includes the technical side, the management and the customer view. While the introduction of agile software development requires a change in the way teams program, DevOps represents a change in corporate culture.

DevOps Engineering: Tips for successful implementation

While in theory the idea is easy to understand, in practice the introduction often leads to greater challenges. With the following tips, companies can successfully implement DevOps:

1. DevOps Roadmap: Start small

When companies introduce the DevOps approach, it is not uncommon for it to take a little practice and fine-tuning at the beginning. That is why it is advisable to start small. Smaller software applications are ideal at the beginning, but they generate direct benefits for the company. Success stories increase the acceptance of users and management.

2. Tailor principles individually to the company.

As already described, a DevOps culture can have different characteristics. When introducing it, companies should make sure that they adapt practices to their own individual needs. While some factors such as ownership, transparency, communication or continuous learning are essential, structures can be adapted, for example in terms of company organisation, available human resources or existing processes.

3. Promote open communication

A very central factor is communication and teamwork between the individual departments. Developers and system administrators in particular should maintain a very close exchange. For this purpose, the teams must realign their processes, procedures and tools to the DevOps idea, especially at the beginning.

Another important element to promote close communication is the introduction of targeted performance incentives to create trust and the right team spirit. For example, all team members should be evaluated based on the same success metrics so that the team looks at the overall success of the project and not just their own area of responsibility. Companies need to build a holistic culture of collaboration.

4 DevOps automation: making processes independent

"Relentless automation is necessary for modern service delivery," writes Forrester in the 2016 Paper „Good DevOps Requires Collaboration, Automation, And Cultural Change“. Companies should therefore place a lot of emphasis at the beginning on training employees, rethinking processes in terms of automation possibilities and introducing the right automation tools.

5. Appoint a project manager

Even though the DevOps idea is very much about teamwork, there needs to be someone who makes the decisions at the end. The project manager should act as an interface between the teams and coordinate the different requirements, goals and processes.

Conclusion: Benefit from improved performance through DevOps

DevOps means changing the corporate culture to one of comprehensive collaboration. In this way, the whole company benefits from improved workflows and secure software. Good project management accompanies this process and is available as an interface for the coordination of the teams.

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