DevOps is the word of the decade for IT professionals, and with good reason. Making the shift successfully can result in a number of business transformations including speed, reduced costs, and better control and quality.
But what is DevOps, really? Tony Bradley explains, “DevOps really is more about the culture than the tools and technology. A group of traditional developers and IT engineers who understand and embrace DevOps culture can be successful, whereas a team of DevOps experts experienced with Chef, Puppet, Docker, and other DevOps tools that doesn’t accept and adapt to the cooperative, collaborative nature of DevOps culture is more or less doomed to failure.”
While it is a common assumption that implementing DevOps is a primarily technical process, we see here that the cultural aspects and adjustments are equally as important. In this post we’ll take a look at five key characteristics every DevOps team should have in order to successfully tackle this cultural shift.
- Great Communicators
It may seem obvious, but up until fairly recently, IT professionals had strictly defined roles and responsibilities that allowed them to work more independently than collaboratively. Because of this, communication skills weren’t necessarily at the top of the list of essential requirements when putting together an IT team.
As rapid deployment and newer, streamlined processes have emerged however, communication has become key to making smooth transitions from one phase of the project to the next. And since DevOps is a cross-functional sport, teams need to be clear on what the expectations and deadlines are. Enforcing good communication can lead to better results in a shorter amount of time and ultimately help organizations save money.
To instill a culture of continuous communication we recommend to physically lay out a plan and keep track of what needs to get done. This will encourage communication and a more positive sense of urgency.
- Team players
Effectively implementing a DevOps methodology in an organization requires a flexible team. For those jumping on the DevOps bandwagon, the phrase “it’s not my job” cannot be in their vocabulary. While it’s common for organizations to experience a clash between development and operations teams when first implementing a DevOps strategy, successful interdepartmental integration requires collaboration in order for the team to reach their end goal–satisfying the needs of the business.
Think of implementing DevOps as working with a team of teams. While each team brings different skills to the table, it is important for all teams to provide support to deliver the most powerful results as effectively and quickly possible.
As David Auslander aptly puts it, “First and foremost, a one-team attitude must be adopted. This applies to people from application development, infrastructure development, architecture, operations organisations, or business stakeholders. No matter the person’s specific job, satisfying the enterprise goals are everyone’s job.”
- Open to Change
We’ve all heard the saying that the only constant in life is change, whether it involves something as small as adjusting our daily commute or as big as a new career. And like everything else, the implementation of DevOps brings about a large cultural shift for an organization.
Gartner analyst George Spafford recommends implementing a cultural change program to make team members aware of the end goals. To begin, he encourages developing a small pilot plan to test the waters initially by deploying tests and taking careful note of what works and what doesn’t. It’s important to know your team what works best to motivate the group to keep them positive and interested. Laying out such a road map and embracing the cultural change will result in a more focused team that will optimize the outcome.
- Unafraid of Failure
If you’ve done any reading up on DevOps over the last few months, you’ll know that there are just about as many articles on DevOps failures as there are successes. To be on a DevOps team, one must not only be unafraid to fail but they should be expecting to fail. According to a Gartner study, 75% of enterprise IT departments will have tried to create a bimodal capacity by 2018. However, less than 50% of them will reap the benefits that new methodologies like DevOps promise. Willing to fail and being patient is crucial for a team to get the most out of their DevOps efforts.
- Sustained Enthusiasm
It seems like everyone is saying it these days: DevOps is here and it’s the next big thing. We need people that want to make a difference with the excitement to drive a significant business transformation. This involves the willingness to listen to customer feedback and adjust accordingly. Since consumers are the main driver on continual software updates and releases, it is crucial to be interested in what they have to say and be more than willing to be accommodating. There will be many highs and lows, and despite processes breaking and things not going according to plan, people involved in DevOps need to maintain continuous enthusiasm for the journey ahead of them.
With these five traits, your team will be able to successfully implement a DevOps strategy and navigate the minefield of cultural change that comes along with it.
Which characteristic do you think is the most important for DevOps teams to have? Tweet at us @Actifio to let us know!
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