Top 11 Bottlenecks That Undermine Success of the DevOps
The aim behind the collaboration of development and operations teams is to enhance the process of software development. But, factors such as cultural differences between the teams, implementation of DevOps practices with outdated infrastructure, lack of common goals and incentives, incapable top management, improperly managed testing processes and more present a number of challenges that thwart the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
We bring to you some of the most common bottlenecks that the SDLC witnesses, overcoming which can trigger your company’s success from a team-level contribution:
- 1 Environment Hell
- 2 Manual Approach to Testing and Deployment
- 3 SDLC and DevOps Maturity
- 4 Ritualistic Outlook towards Change Management
- 5 Operations Approach to DevOps
- 6 Redundant Testing Methodologies
- 7 Building a Castle on Loose Sand
- 8 Incentives Vs. Quality
- 9 Burdening the Hero
- 10 Lack of Governance
- 11 Lack of Executive Support
Ever heard about the term ‘environment hell’? Yes, that is what it looks like in most companies when code moves from team to team (development, testing, deployment, production) in the software development process. The diverse environments are wired differently and thus make it difficult for a software to function similarly on different platforms. As a result, teams spend hours and days trying to fix bugs without realizing that the error is not within the code, rather the problem is with the environment.
Solution: The teams involved in the process need to sit together and outline a standard blueprint for execution of the DevOps process and introduce continuous delivery into the process to stay on the same page.
Manual Approach to Testing and Deployment
Manual intervention is not always advisable for all IT processes, especially for the testing and deployment interfaces/scenarios. It mars agility to an extent that it becomes difficult to employ continuous integration and continuous delivery. In this process, work is doubled, and the DevOps process is converted into an endless circle of rework. Also, when deployments are done fully or partially, there is a high chance of failure which leads to a poor output.
Solution: Practitioners need to automate the framework and deployment processes. They need to consider implementing a testing procedure into the development process. This will help them to reduce deployment failures considerably.
SDLC and DevOps Maturity
The way you approach a process or project matters because it’s not always about you, it’s more about how effectively you get software to work. SDLC should be able to deliver software with high quality and reliability in a quicker amount of time.
Some organizations are still not equipped to work with the agile nature of DevOps. Most of them are early into the process or some of them assume that they know it all. And there are some others who manage to indulge in continuous delivery but struggle with driving the process.
Solution: Organizations should educate their employees about DevOps and its effectiveness; training sessions should be conducted, and industry experts should be involved in the process. Any deployment failures should be treated with a ‘learn-from-mistake’ approach and should be used to make room for improvement in future projects.
Ritualistic Outlook towards Change Management
Organizations have gotten comfortable with their age-old practices. Most of their processes were formulated at a time when change management meant refilling, employing and getting additional resources for the back-end functioning (administration and support personnel) or infrastructure changes (upgrading systems, hardware, etc.), which happened on a weekly or monthly basis (as decided by the management).
Today’s 21st century environment demands almost immediate changes and deployment. The age-old practices clash with the nature of today’s intelligent processes like DevOps; especially, the large companies that have been following the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) processes and their rigid nature obstructs the course of DevOps processes. The process waits endlessly on approvals and rubber stamps from the management.
Solution: These organizations need to learn the importance of moving with changing trends. They need to revise their approval systems or company rules and implement improvised approaches that will make the organization move faster.
Operations Approach to DevOps
In most organizations, the operations teams are slated and accustomed to work with outdated applications. In a company that needs to move at the pace of changing market trends, it is crucial for the team to support the delivery of software that is running while being worked on. Operations has to work selflessly in delivering a software that is a product of the development team’s hard work, but not without the support of the operations team.
Mostly companies are focused only on monitoring infrastructure. But in a DevOps process, developers need access to tools including logging solutions, web and mobile analytics, application performance monitoring tools, advanced alerting and notification solutions, which are provided by the Ops team.
Additionally, processes such as change management, problem management, request management, incident management, access management and others often need to be improvised and revised as per changing environment to ensure more agility and transparency.
Solution: Companies need to assess their Ops teams’ processes and tools and improvise the way they work to create a more agile and transparent work environment.
Redundant Testing Methodologies
Most organizations have a dedicated QA team that does not work in close collaboration with development team. This results in an endless cycle of code sent for being tested and sent back. In the process, bugs are detected and sent to developers who must quickly, build, fix and redeploy code. By doing this repeatedly, they run out on time and the receiving teams have to put up with this poor quality of work and see how they can further the framework for production with the loopholes.
Solution: This death cycle can be tackled by preventing bugs from moving forward in the development chain. This is done by constructing automated test controls and automatically rejecting the build in case of a testing failure.
Continuous integration has been designed for this process. As mentioned earlier, testing should be implemented as part of the process rather than after the development process. Developers and testers have to play an equal role in each other’s processes. This can pose a challenge to testers and not everyone is up for it. Finally, quality should not be the responsibility of just the QA team.
Building a Castle on Loose Sand
Working an automation process on existing infrastructure is like building a castle on loose sand, the result is not hidden. There are several organizations where teams call themselves as DevOps teams and each of their personnel get head-on into the process of writing thousands of lines of scripts in Chef and Puppet to automate the existing infrastructure. This is not going to help in anyway instead it just deprives organizations, workflows and employees of their precious time.
Solution: Automation should come after new processes and practices have been put into place.
Incentives Vs. Quality
Although this bottleneck may seem adrift from the topic, this factor very much influences the DevOps processes. The most common practice in organizations is that every team works with their own benefit in mind rather than having a common goal of customer satisfaction. Developers’ incentive is speed to market, and Operations is focused on ensuring reliability and quality. If this practice continues, then every DevOps process is going to be a puzzle of unclear priorities and insufficient resources. End of the day, customer satisfaction is key to driving business operations and if the customer benefits then everyone working for the organization does.
Solution: The management should consider on reworking the rewards and incentives awarded to the employee with the common good of the organization in mind.
Burdening the Hero
When it’s a last-minute call, then all heads turn to the hero team and look forward to some heroic act for deliverables. The dependence on that particular team mounts tremendous pressure, which is seen in the form of insane work hours, a lot of fuming and puffing among the teams and leaving consequences over to chance. The causes of this scenario are the absence of automation, which is essential is saving time and simplifying tasks, immature operational processes and incapable management.
The suffering team is left to deal with burnout, high target to meet and disappointment for the customer.
Solution: Identify the practices and resources that produce such hero teams and try to eliminate them.
Lack of Governance
Most organizations love the idea of DevOps and are quick to jump to the practice. But not much consideration is put into using DevOps for the long run and its flexibility across teams. Once an organization finds success in the implementation of DevOps in a small project, they think that it is feasible to take the big leap and use DevOps for bigger projects and more teams but a year down the line and they have no clue about how they’re going to manage the service across a larger platform, i.e., with more number of teams; without any strong governance.
Before taking the decision to adopt DevOps across a larger platform, organizations need to ask themselves these questions:
- Is the company in a position to manage infrastructure and workloads across a large network?
- Are they shared service platforms like central logging and monitoring solutions or each of the teams managing an individual service system?
- Is there a synchronous security network that is umbrella to all the teams in an organization?
- Can the teams create their own infrastructure through a self-service portal or are they dependent on a single queue ticketing system?
- All these questions need to be taken into consideration and implementing DevOps without a proper governance in place is not a wise take.
Solution: Organizations need to identify an able leadership within the organization to chalk out a master plan that will bring all teams under the DevOps banner.
Lack of Executive Support
Companies with top level management support for DevOps implementation are driving success these days. It is essential that the top-level executives see that employees receive the right training, tools, funds and all the other required support in executing a DevOps operation. An organization that incorporates the practice into their system and does not have the required top-level monitoring, is surely going to suffer. The DevOps process itself becomes a bottleneck in the organization’s growth.
The DevOps practice should be introduced at a grassroot level. When teams at grassroot levels began implementing the practice and brought home success, executives were impressed with ROI and the effectiveness. They begin to fund and further the cause.
Solution: Grassroot teams should collect ‘before and after statistics’ to be able to make the top-level believe in the might of the DevOps process.
On an End Note:
It is never easy to tent the DevOps process into an organization. Factors such as organizational culture, size of the company, flexibility among teams to adapt to DevOps, agreement and support from top-level management play a key role in making DevOps a success as part of the organization and a success in itself.
Now that you know of the bottlenecks, see how you and your peers can work to eliminate them and move forward. It is essential to break down the bottlenecks one by one, because bringing in change all at once is not possible. And, moreover, you need to prioritize which ones you must deal with on priority.