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10 Best Practices for Successful DevOps Implementation

The increasing adoption of DevOps by most of the organizations across the globe clearly indicates its potential as a key enabler to achieving scale. Implementation of DevOps practices helps an organization deliver faster, better, high-quality and reliable software relying on the culture of cooperation and collaboration among all functions of an organization. It calls for fundamental cultural changes and modification of legacy programming practices. Here are the core DevOps best practices that help an organization achieve the goals of effective communication and collaboration, smoother operations and bug-free code. Here are the ten key recommendations for successful DevOps implementation:

1) Evaluate the need to implement DevOps practice

Align your IT goals with Business goals. The need for implementation of DevOps should be business-driven. It should not be implemented just because it is the latest trend, but your development process for the business goals should demand this change.

2) Break the organizational silos & encourage collaboration

DevOps practices demand to break down functional silos among various disciplines in IT. The philosophy of DevOps essentially is that development, operations, and other functions must work closely by cooperating and collaborating among themselves. Breaking down organizational silos improves communication among the teams enabling accessibility to information to everyone about what was done in the past, people involved and the associated results. It helps in better decision making, in turn, fetches better output and better ideas.

3) Put Customer / end-user satisfaction at the center

Organizations must keep adapting themselves to the ever-changing customer demand and deliver services / solutions that meet, rather exceed, customer expectations regarding time, functionality and performance. This is possible only by embracing the change in culture that stresses on team effort, transparent communications, and commitment to customer satisfaction, etc. Without the support of all the key business stakeholders, DevOps will not be successful. Right from defining the requirements, prototype development, unit/integration/regression testing, to deployment, everyone should be involved.

4) Don’t jump start, instead, start small and then scale up

Achieve DevOps approach for faster and smaller release cycles and then adopt at scale. Some quick successes consolidate the belief of various stakeholders in the new approach. Moving the IT culture away from silos need trust and acceptance in the new philosophy. Also, Organizations need to upskill current talent rather than hiring from outside. It enables the existing employees to achieve some early success which helps in improving their confidence on adopting DevOps.

5) Automate wherever possible

Automation enables faster execution throughout the SDLC, keeping up with the speed of DevOps. Automation can be employed and extended to code development, middleware configuration, database and networking changes, and to essential testing including regression testing and load testing. Automation saves time and efforts of developers, testers and operations personnel and, in turn, total costs.

6) Select tools that are compatible with each other

The automation tools to be used in DevOps should be chosen depending upon how they react with another tool. It is recommended to choose a toolset which is compatible with your IT environment. Ensure that you adopt tools that are suitable to the rest of the toolchain that is existing. Tooling decisions should be taken wisely considering the overall tool compatibility for your organization. It is usually effective if the tools that you choose are from a single vendor because such tools must have been closely integrated with each other. Careful selection of tools reduce the conflicts that they possibly create between development and operations.

7) Define performance reviews for team and an individual

When the IT culture has to be collaborative, it requires an evaluation of team’s as well as individual’s performance in the team. Since cooperation and collaboration are at the core of DevOps, performance reviews for developers and operations personnel should mostly be based on their teams’ ability to meeting their development and deployment goals.

8) Ensure real-time visibility into the project

For a cross-functional IT organization, it is important to have a project management tools that provide real-time visibility into a project or an application is required. It makes the project coordination among different functions easier. All the stakeholders need to understand in which phase the project is exactly in the development to the deployment process. Advanced project management tools have built-in automation that eases getting the information by displaying who and what are the crucial resources for the current tasks of the project.

9) Integrate and deliver continuously

Embracing DevOps without implementing Continuous integration and Continuous Delivery will be inefficient and unsuccessful. Continuous Integration is one of the key components of agile processes which enables developers to develop a software in small, regular steps by immediately detecting defects and providing feedback.

Continuous delivery is an extension of continuous integration. Continuous Delivery approach ensures that every new or revised requirement is rapidly and safely deployed to production with quality by delivering each and every change to a production-like environment and making sure that the software / application functions as intended through rigorous test automation. It confirms that the software functions as intended through rigorous automated testing. Hence, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery should not be neglected for successful DevOps implementation.

10) Achieve better results with monitoring & feedback

To know if the software or application is performing as desired while the environment is unwavering, continuous monitoring is essential. The Operations team has to ensure that the applications are performing at the optimal levels. They may work with the development team to build monitoring and analytics capabilities right into the applications being developed.

Finally, DevOps is a set of principles and practices that facilitates an organization to make their delivery of software / applications lean and efficient, while leveraging feedback from end-users that help to continuously improve. Feedback mechanism improves the processes of delivering an application.

DevOps is not just an initiative, but an expedition to continuously improve an organization’s practices and culture to offer better value and satisfaction to customers and achieve improved business outcomes. Contact us if you are interested to know more about DevOps and wish to embrace DevOps philosophy. Our Agile and DevOps Advisory & Transformation services are focused on helping clients identify key areas of improvement; benchmark and align their Agile / DevOps processes to industry best practices; design target operating model to maximize the investments, and provide recommendations and roadmap to adopt Agile & DevOps practices and establish a high maturity Agile DevOps Organization.

What is the Role of QA in the world of DevOps?

DevOps is an extension of agile software development approach that enables software development and testing to happen simultaneously with continuous collaboration between all stakeholders. Enterprises today are witnessing a rapid adoption of DevOps to accelerate time to market and to better respond to, and meet the ever-changing customer needs. DevOps has emerged from the necessity of businesses to respond more quickly to market changes to attain competitive advantage and rapid business growth.

A quick overview of DevOps:

  • o High-performing IT organizations experience 60x fewer failures and recover from failure 168 times faster than their lower-performing peers. They also deploy 30 times more frequently with 200 times shorter lead times.
  • o Lean management and continuous delivery practices create the conditions for delivering value faster.
  • o It doesn’t matter if your apps are Greenfield, Brownfield, or legacy — as long as they are architected with testability and deployability in mind, high performance is achievable.
  • o IT managers play a critical role in any DevOps transformation.
  • o Diversity matters.
  • o Deployment pain can tell you a lot about your IT performance.
  • o Burnout can be prevented, and DevOps can help.
  • Source: State of DevOps Survey Report 2015 by Puppet Labs

DevOps practices are intended not only to improve the regularity of feature releases but also to reduce defects. DevOps is an approach highlighting rapid, small, iterative development and deployment of applications. DevOps is the answer to the requirement of enterprises that need to catch up with the relentless speed of business growth. It is driving enterprises to streamline and speed up the delivery of applications along with changes and innovation. It isn’t just about continuous delivery, but also about an overall continuous improvement of software as well.

DevOps – Why, What, How & Who?

  • o  Why: Increase business benefits by reducing the transaction cost associated with delivering incremental change.
  • o  What (Goal): Clarity, Consistency and Collaboration to understand the changes that each release brings to the IT and customer environments.
  • o  How: Methodology and tools that continue to evolve.
  • o  Who: Developers, QA and Operations.

Key Highlights of DevOps

  • o Quicker and faster software delivery.
  • o Stable operating environments.
  • o Early detection and faster correction of defects.
  • o Transparency and Collaboration across teams.
  • o Continuous release and deployment.
  • o Deployment pain can tell you a lot about your IT performance.
  • o Continuous testing.
  • o Continuous monitoring.
  • o Reduced time to market.
  • o Improved quality.

The Cultural Shift

DevOps is all about keeping the software deployable at any point in time over working on new features. It calls for a cultural shift among all stakeholders of the organization to come together and work towards a common goal of creating rapid, reliable and repeatable processes. DevOps encourages development and operations teams to function as one single team, focused on delivering business value across the IT value chain.
Traditionally, a development team and an operations department usually have entirely different deliverables and responsibilities. Development team continuously indulges in developing software / application based on changing user or market demands for new features or making changes and fixes in the existing product. Operations team tries to retain everything as constant as possible so as to deliver maximum stability and availability of software services.
Between the two differing goals of Development and Operations teams, Quality Assurance (QA) plays an important role as a key enabler in delivering business value. And, DevOps seamlessly integrates all the three functions – Dev, Ops, and QA into a single IT entity that delivers value. DevOps breaks down the organizational silos between development and operations teams. It emphasizes that QA is everyone’s responsibility. QA & testing functions as a bridge between all disciplines, from clients and business to development and operations in DevOps. QA & testing is viewed as one of the most vital levers for accelerating time to market within DevOps initiatives.

The Strategic Role of QA in DevOps

In the DevOps approach, testers and developers play equally important roles. The boundaries of job responsibilities between a developer and tester become blurred in DevOps. QA ties together development and operations and enables them to collaborate to have software and applications up & running. Everyone in the organization takes responsibility for quality and stability, and thereby for the business success.
A Developers thinks more like a testers, and continually checks their own code for potential errors. Conversely, a tester, whose responsibility is to test the application / software using different types of testing tools & methodologies, also fixes the code. In such a scenario, organizations without a strong and definite QA and testing strategy to “continuously test” in DevOps face troubles in meeting their goals for an accelerated speed of delivery.
As discussed in our previous post – Importance of Continuous Testing in DevOps – Continuous Testing, when implemented diligently, allows flawless continuity in the delivery cycle. It reduces the time from development to operations. QA is moving into a more strategic role building robust software testing infrastructure while tracking quality across the SDLC.
Having a QA strategy in place, coupled with best practices, has become very relevant, particularly as organizations are readily embracing the DevOps movement to enable effective software development and operations while achieving superior quality and user experience.

10 Best Practices of QA in a DevOps scenario:

1.QA and testing teams should be part of technical teams. They have to move beyond manual functional testing, and should focus their efforts on automation, and testing strategies. QA becomes the enabler of quality across SDLC.
2.Quality needs to be well-defined in order to meet requirements. Rather than trying to achieve perfection in software, QA should move towards focussing on accomplishing satisfying user experience within the given time frame.
3.Metrics that measure quality have to be laid down and measured. Such metrics should detect software defects early in the development cycle.
4.Goals of individual and teams need to be optimized. Organizations need to strengthen necessary behavior and cultural shift by incentivizing quality assurance.
5.Requirements need to be specific. QA teams should proactively involve in the requirements process to help and guide development teams towards proper direction.
6.QA & testing should focus more on automated regression testing on critical areas such as key software functionality.
7.QA & testing has to move towards leveraging automation tools to automate testing wherever possible.
8.Development, operations, and QA teams should be facilitated and encouraged to communicate, collaborate, and optimize their efforts.
9.Continuous integration is the key to identifying defects early in the development lifecycle. For continuous integration to be implemented effectively, all the stakeholders have to integrate their work often on a day-to-day basis.
10.A fully automated continuous testing process needs to be integrated into the SDLC for a successful continuous delivery process that minimizes risks, reduces costs, and accelerates time to market by frequent releases.