Avoid These 4 Main Causes of DevOps Failure

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There are a lot of good reasons to embrace DevOps, but that doesn’t mean that every company is ready to jump into the DevOps deep end. It’s important to understand what you expect to get out of DevOps–what goals you want to achieve as an organization. It’s also crucial that you avoid the big hurdles and common pitfalls that generally cause failure when it comes to DevOps.

DevOps has been all the rage for a few years now. It has quickly matured from a fringe concept to a mainstream imperative, and organizations that haven’t already embraced DevOps are scrambling to understand and implement it to keep up with rivals and remain competitive. Despite its benefits, though, DevOps may not be for everyone. Before diving into the DevOps deep end, you first should consider what your objectives are.

To frame the issue more precisely, it’s not that organizations necessarily should avoid DevOps altogether. It’s just important to go into it with your eyes wide open and to understand why some DevOps projects fail. According to Andrew Storms, VP of Security Services at New Context, it’s always for one of four reasons: cultural roadblocks, failure to identify and take action on mistakes as you go, failure to learn from past mistakes and most importantly, failure to include security—either early on or at all.

Let’s break down those four hurdles.

Face Cultural Roadblocks

DevOps is different things to different organizations, or even to different teams within an organization. There are many definitions of what DevOps is or is not. There is a fairly unanimous consensus, though, that DevOps is first and foremost a function of culture.

Cultural roadblocks, Storms said, are by far the most common reason he sees DevOps fail. “It’s rarely a technical tools problem; usually there’s a disconnect between the DevOps team and executives or other parts of the organization. A concerted effort must be made to get everyone in the organization on the same page. Everyone is fighting for the same thing, but too often, they don’t realize it.”

Fix Mistakes

One of the outcomes of the DevOps culture shift is a fundamental change in corporate bureaucracy and the rigid processes that segregate teams and impede progress. DevOps enables organizations to work more seamlessly and produce results more quickly. It also allows issues and mistakes to be identified and resolved on the fly. “Smaller incremental changes are always easier to handle than a large monster of a release, which can include hundreds of changes,” explained Storms. “For example, teams should look for the single change in a monthly release that resulted in an unexpected security hole, instead of thinking they’ll tackle all changes with a huge release down the road.”

Learn from the Past

One of the most important things for business in general to help them understand is learning from past mistakes. With DevOps, it’s crucial. Organizations often only conduct investigations and postmortem analyses in the event of an issue or catastrophic failure. In that situation, the teams and individuals involved are immediately on the defensive and likely to go into “CYA” mode.

To effectively understand and learn from the past the discussion has to be neutral and without blame or consequence. It’s a difficult concept for organizations to grasp. The key to blameless meetings is to conduct them as a regular occurrence rather than a response to a negative situation, and to foster a culture where failure is acceptable as long as it is used as a learning experience.

You can check out the complete post on DevOps.com: Understand Why You’re Doing DevOps.

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About Author

I have a passion for technology and gadgets--with a focus on Microsoft and security--and a desire to help others understand how technology can affect or improve their lives. I also love spending time with my wife, 7 kids, 3 dogs, 4 cats, 3 rabbits, 2 ferrets, pot-bellied pig and sulcata tortoise, and I like to think I enjoy reading and golf even though I never find time for either. You can contact me directly at tony@xpective.net. For more from me, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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