The world of software development has been taken over by the DevOps wave for a long time. Engulfed in the benefits of automation, agile planning, continuous delivery, and the ilk, we often forget that DevOps is also a cultural shift. Technology is no longer the biggest inhibitor to DevOps; instead, organizational factors have become the primary obstacle. DevOps goes beyond new tools and new processes and is an organizational culture shift that requires having the right mindset and rituals to realize its full potential.
Through this article, we aim to discuss four major aspects of DevOps culture and the characteristics that can be leveraged to achieve the full promise of DevOps.
4 aspects of DevOps culture
1. Speed vs. Quality
In software development, speed is a highly valued aspect. The faster a product reaches the market, the better, thus making organizations believe that success is all about failure. Experiencing a definite but quick failure that can be identified and analyzed is considered a good thing. Failing forward helps identify an error, its location, and all other aspects of relevance. It can be used to overcome a problem and move forward. But the problem with failing forward and failing fast is the visibility of it all. This means that your failure is free for all to see and can also damage customer goodwill.
While speed is important, quality is just as and maybe even more important than speed. On the flip side of rushing into successful failure, organizations can spend more time conducting more smoke tests to ensure that they are releasing higher-quality applications. It consists of a set of non-exhaustive tests where you put the product you have built through fundamental happy path tests to bring out critical defects. Smoke testing rapidly checks if the most fundamental and critical functions work. It can be conducted every day, every sprint, every release, and anyone can do it. But conducting these tests does delay the time-to-market, which can be a significant discouragement in the grand scheme of things.
2. Autonomy vs. Collaboration
At the heart of DevOps culture is collaboration and shared responsibility between multidisciplinary teams for the products they create. It helps foster a culture of collaborative communication to enable a seamless exchange of ideas and information. This promotes transparency and makes it easier for all parts of an organization to align closely to achieve set goals.
Just like the essence of DevOps culture involves collaboration, the essence of collaboration involves autonomy. For various teams to work together effectively, decisions must be made and implemented without a tedious approval process. The various teams should be intrinsically autonomous. Autonomy prevents being handicapped by administrative requirements and functions on trust and no fear of failure.
3. Build vs. Buy
When there is a need for a tool for a specific task, you can either build it in-house or buy from the options available in the market. The temptation to build your own tools is inescapable and makes sense in cases where no tools are available for your use case. But this is a big undertaking that requires time, resources, and finances to achieve. Some organizations have the luxury of all these components and can leverage them to build the required tools.
In today’s world, there are more than enough tools available in the market for almost every task when it comes to DevOps. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and put in the time and energy to build something already existing. Analyzing the market and picking a combination of tools that can help you get started is easier and less overwhelming.
4. Control vs. Flexibility
DevOps in an organization can be approached in two ways: prioritizing control or flexibility. When prioritizing control, problems are usually divided into smaller, manageable problems and solved individually. It enables you to have a clear understanding of the big picture as well as the end goal. This approach, aka top-down approach, focuses on analytics and the overall problem where you work your way to the details. One of the significant downsides of this approach is that it’s essentially inflexible to change and can lead to inefficiencies.
If you prioritize flexibility, you start with the details and work toward the bigger picture. It helps understand a complex project by dividing it into smaller components and building it up to the larger system. This bottom-up approach ensures each task is executed well. It focuses on building a foundation of detailed knowledge and experimenting with different components. The greatest strength of the bottom-up approach lies in its flexibility to allow changes at any stage of a process. One of the major downsides to this framework is its exhaustingly slow pace to ensure each component is done right and completed to progress.
The top-down approach centers around control and decision-making, whereas the bottom-up approach concerns adaptability based on changing requirements.
The choice between what aspects are important in the DevOps culture of your organization depends on the nature of your organization, the team’s expertise, and the resources available. Hopefully, this article helps you understand the differences between various aspects of a DevOps culture and make informed decisions.