Common DevOps Myths and Misconceptions

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For those who think that DevOps is a one-off project or simply a set of tools, check out why those and other beliefs are myths.

Business leaders across industries know that accelerating speed to market is more than a goal, it is a survival skill. Sony CEO, Kazuo Hirai, succinctly described the pressure many executives feel, especially in the tech sector: “We need to execute with faster speed, which means effective decision-making, effective execution.”

While many industry leaders have successfully deployed DevOps to achieve faster speed-to-market with higher quality software and a first-class customer experience, there continue to be some fundamental misconceptions about what DevOps really means.

Here are the most common myths:

Myth #1: DevOps is a set of automated tools. You can’t buy DevOps. It is not a simple matter of shopping for the best container service or continuous integration tool. DevOps is a different way of thinking about how to deploy and monitor the health of your applications. Collaboration, continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous testing are not tools that can be implemented, they are practices that must be adopted. Yes, there are a number of tools that are commonly used to assist in implementing a robust DevOps practice. JIRA, CircleCI, Git Hub, Chef, Puppet, Docker, and Selenium are all great examples. However, these tools will only be effective if your teams understand how to optimize them and leverage them as part of an overall DevOps approach. It’s about methodologies and new ways of working, not just a toolset.

Myth #2: DevOps procedures change from project to project. The idea that you have to reinvent the wheel for each project defies the whole purpose of implementing DevOps. Having one set process that can be applied to multiple projects allows for familiarity and predictability – everyone knows their role and understands how to operate within the process.

Think of it like a busy restaurant kitchen on Saturday night. Each member of the kitchen staff has a role, every ingredient has a spot, and every pot and pan is accounted for and used. Everyone works in tandem, and the system is the same no matter what dish is being created, from prepping ingredients until plating the final meal. Kitchens that do not have a set system en up a chaotic mess and produce poor results.

DevOps practices must be flexible enough to adapt to deployment cycles, testing anomalies, server configurations, and the strengths of development teams, and this flexibility is only possible if there is an understanding of the process. This understanding comes largely from repetition.

Myth #3: DevOps is just better communication for developers and operation managers. Gartner predicts that by 2019, 80% of organizations pursuing agile methods will not see the expected benefits, and will be unable to scale above six agile teams when using traditional development-operations handoffs. This handoff is what many companies refer to as “throwing it over all the wall”:  developers create the code in one silo and then pass it to the operations team, which handles the staging and production in another.

The “throwing it over the wall” problem can’t be addressed solely by assigning operations experts to a development team or vice versa. While communication is a huge part of the process, communication alone is not enough. The goal is to have a team of professionals who understand each element of the process. For example, developers can be part of the production process through the use of configuration tools. When you are bringing on a team of technical workers, integrating them directly into the operations process will result in a scalable, flexible process. DevOps practices emerge from a restructure of organizational silos and adherence to more efficient methodologies.

Not a myth: DevOps done right is transformational. DevOps is already delivering huge benefits to savvy brands. When Nordstrom began using DevOps, they found that there were fewer bugs, and iterations went from one every six months to one per month. Etsy had a similar success story. After adopting a continuous delivery model, they are now able to manage more than 50 deployments a day. Carnegie Mellon University found that organizations using DevOps practices deploy code 30 times faster.

The switch to DevOps doesn’t need to be stressful, either. Larger companies that have a harder time making structural changes are creating programs to help navigate the transition from waterfall to agile.

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