The benefits of a streamlined DevOps model are many: Better efficiency, higher productivity, and reduced costs. But integrating previously siloed application development and IT operations teams into a single agile, cohesive unit is not without its organizational challenges.
DevOps team members must adopt new mindsets. For application developers, this means taking responsibility for the maintenance and performance of applications after they’ve gone into production. On the flip side, IT operations staff must expand the scope of its role to include supporting the application development process.
To do this, DevOps team leaders should dedicate a significant portion of each team member’s time – say 20% - to training across disciplines. Operations pros should spend some time coding, for example, while developers should get their hands dirty working with the hardware.
Support silos must also be broken down. At one Midwestern capital management company, for example, application support and operations support were previously directed to separate help desks. As part of its new DevOps model, support is consolidated into a single help desk, with just one phone line and one email address for help tickets, manned by both developers and operations pros.
DevOps teams are lean, meaning most organizations that adopt the DevOps model will ultimately end up reducing staff. This company went from more than 25 staff members between its siloed application development and IT operations staffs to a nine-member DevOps team, a 65% reduction. DevOps team leaders should focus on retaining those team members who embrace fast-paced development and release cycles, thrive in highly collaborative environments, and are eager to develop and master new skills.
Budgets must also be integrated, a process that can take a year or more.
Action Item: To address the organizational challenges associated with the DevOps model, Wolfgang Goerlich, who heads this company's DevOps team, developed a helpful Venn diagram to guide his decision-making process.
The first circle includes those activities that drive business value – “what’s saving me money or helping my business make money.” The second circle includes those activities that motivate DevOps team members – “what gets my people fired up, what gets them excited, what makes them challenged at work and really puts them in the zone.” The third circle includes those activities that team members are most skillful and knowledgeable about.
Goerlich focuses much if his effort on growing the third ring through training his staff to develop new skills, including cross-training between the development and operations sides of the team. This has the residual effect of growing the other two rings, resulting in a lean DevOps team prepared to meet the current needs of the business and agile enough to adapt to changing conditions with minimal disruptions.