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Why DevOps is Easier to Fail at than Succeed

Tales of why DevOps can fail at traditional enterprises are as influential as the unicorn success stories. So what mistakes are being made and how do we avoid them?

Larry Salomon
Larry Salomon, March 31, 2017 1:45 pm
Blog > ARA | DevOps | Continuous Delivery > Why DevOps is Easier to Fail at than Succeed

Since the term “DevOps” was coined in Belgium back in 2009, it has been impossible to avoid the debate raging around it. While we have watched it gain hype and momentum, many articles have been written to describe what elements of a DevOps strategy are required for it to be successful.

In spite of this, not many organizations feel there is a need for DevOps. In a Gartner report entitled DevOps Adoption Survey Results (published in September 2015), 40% of respondents said they had no plans to implement DevOps and 31% of respondents said they hadn't implemented it but planned to start in the 12 months after the survey was conducted. 

That left only 29% who had implemented DevOps in a pilot project or in production systems, which isn't a lot.

Do We Need DevOps?

"Maybe it's because there truly isn't a need for DevOps," you say. While that may have been true if DevOps were around at the beginning of last decade, the consumerization of IT and other types of "instant gratification" technology advances would dictate otherwise.  Today it is recognized that innovation is desirable, but the importance of it is often missed. All it takes is for a company to stumble once for them to be overtaken by their closest competitor. Therefore, companies must think like a technology company regardless of whether they are one; like technology companies, they must constantly innovate or they will rapidly become irrelevant.

Let's drill down a bit. Even though DevOps means far more than application release processes, Agile development methodologies have changed the landscape of software development such that the promote and release functions are now often the bottleneck. It is here that automation can have the biggest impact, yet many organizations haven't addressed this to its fullest extent. In a report by IDG Research entitled Market Pulse Research: The State of DevOps (published in August 2013), 36% of respondents said that their release processes were completely manual and 53% said they were only partially automated. The kicker is that they all recognized that automated application release is a key enabler to the successful implementation of a DevOps strategy.

How Does DevOps Fail?

What is the real problem here? It would seem that many organizations are looking for ways to successfully achieve the nirvana of DevOps when they should instead focus on how to avoid failure. They are charging forward without protecting the flanks, and as a result, they are getting hamstrung.

What are some of the reasons why DevOps can fail to take hold? Although there are more things to get right than there are pitfalls to avoid, Cognizant published a great whitepaper containing six key things to watch out for when embarking on your DevOps journey. These items are on pages two and three, and are a "must read" even if you're already immersed in implementing DevOps at your organization.

Another great article published in Computer Weekly discusses the business and technology challenges when implementing DevOps. From the article: "for enterprises entrenched in the old way of software development, adopting a DevOps style of working isn't going to be easy for CIOs without buy-in from the whole IT department."

I could not agree more. Focusing on the goal is fine, but for something that requires such a huge shift in the way multiple departments work it needs to be recognized that there are many more ways to fail than there are to succeed.

The original blog can be found at : http://larrysalomon.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/its-easier-to-fail-at-devops-than-it-is.html

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Larry Salomon

Larry Salomon

Larry Salomon Jr. brings 18 years of IT experience focused on application development and delivery. Coupled with his strong focus on the business relevance of technology, Mr. Salomon is a recognized thought leader in the application delivery space. You will find him in several LinkedIn discussion groups and his blog on business related topics (larrysalomon.blogspot.com).