The Ten DevOps Commandments (or Ten Steps to Kickstart Your First DevOps Project)

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The Ten DevOps Commandments (or Ten Steps to Kickstart Your First DevOps Project)

Just getting started with DevOps? Let this list guide you with some tips on your planning and process to ensure DevOps success.

· DevOps Zone ·
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I recently saw and loved the musical Hamilton.  If you haven’t seen it and are a US history fan, you should!  There is a song in it called The 10 Duel Commandments that sets out the ten rules involved in a duel of the late 1700s.  The song has gained a place in popular culture; hence the title of this article. 

In a survey we fielded last year, we found that 94 percent of enterprises are engaged with DevOps in some way [1].  Most, however, were just getting started.  Just 19 percent had already implemented DevOps.  That means three quarters of all enterprises had yet to actually implement DevOps.

If you are in that camp, kicking off your first DevOps project may seem daunting.  To help ease your entry into DevOps, I’ve assembled 10 tips to help kick-start your first DevOps project.

#1: Find a Champion

DevOps involves change, and change can be difficult.  It helps to know management is on your side.  Identify a champion from your executive leadership team to provide support at the C-suite.  This will ensure you have a higher success rate and adoption in your organization.

I remember my first DevOps project.  Our organization was going through a business transformation and had placed a lot of emphasis on DevOps to help that transformation.  There was a lot of C-level discussion about change, and that motivated the DevOps team to persevere on such a transformational journey.

#2: Start With a Pilot Project

DevOps is a very different way to work.  It is beneficial to begin with a pilot project.  That way your team can learn from experience.  Be sure to report progress and challenges on a frequent basis to the leadership team, so they can provide their power to remove any roadblocks from an organization perspective.

#3: Define Success

Yogi Berra famously said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”  Define the criteria of success for your first DevOps project (for example, faster development, fewer bugs, lower redline, etc.).  This gives everyone something to aim for and removes the guesswork from evaluating success.

#4: Provide the Freedom to Succeed

Give autonomy to your team to define and fill the roles they need to build a successful DevOps team.  These roles may be at odds with long-standing operating procedures, and may not jive with their current titles, but DevOps requires a healthy amount of change. 

#5: Provide Ample Training

Train your team on the new skills they will require to perform their new DevOps duties.  For example, a developer needs to understand the practices followed for fixing a bug in production quickly.  An ops person might need to know where to store the code during the process of development.   Consider hiring a coach with DevOps experience who can help guide the team during their initial pilot.

#6: Give the Team Breathing Room

Make sure management doesn’t interfere with the initial pilot.  Asking for time cards every week and assigning work outside of the pilot will move the focus of the team away from the project and reduce the morale of the team.  You’ve embarked on the DevOps journey to deliver the results your traditional methods could not deliver.  Trust the process and let the team do their work.

#7: Provide Additional Funding

Provide additional funding if needed for the team to procure additional servers or tools needed to do continuous integration/continuous delivery.  This needs to be allocated at the beginning of the project so that funding does not become a bottleneck for the team.  If the team has to hunt for resources and get approvals for funding, then the team will be distracted from the project

#8: Embrace Automation

Automation is a critical factor for success of DevOps.   The team should be allowed to automate processes like the provisioning of servers, testing and code deployment.  The more they automate the process, the faster your releases will flow and fewer issues will be seen.

#9: Update Team Member Goals

The odds are high that existing goals for individual team members will make no sense in their new DevOps roles.  You need to update these goals to reflect their new roles.  Measuring members against their old goals will not be fair and may produce counterproductive behavior.  For example, an ops person should not be measured only by the number of incidents closed, but on the success criteria defined at the beginning of the project.

#10: Celebrate Every Win – Especially the Small Ones

Your first DevOps team will feel like true pioneers.  They are in the wilderness in many ways.  To keep their morale high be sure to celebrate early and often.  Your champion could celebrate with the team over lunch after a small win.  I still remember my first DevOps project.  When we released our first sprint it went very smoothly.  I took them to lunch to celebrate and it had a profound effect on their morale.

This applies to the C-Suite as well.  Have the champion provide frequent updates so executives remain enthusiastic about the trial.

DevOps is all about change.  The cultural aspects of these changes are huge and often pose a big challenge for large organizations.  But with these 10 tips you can get an early win with the pilot project.  From there you can expand the DevOps philosophy throughout the organization.

[1] 2016 ServiceNow Cloud Tipping Point Survey

agile, devops, devops adoption

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