Problem In Moving To Agile DevOps Environment

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Many companies are now attempting to move into an agile DevOps environment but are struggling in that process. I believe the struggle is because they implement part of the journey but not all of it. Consequently, they often fall short of the desired result.

Companies see the benefits of moving into moving into an agile environment and benefits of adopting DevOps. They recognize they need to invest in a set of technologies, whether it’s automated tests, self-provisioning or work planning tools. They believe if they buy the technologies, people will learn to use them, and the company will get benefits. The technologies are necessary, but the fact is they are not sufficient.

Likewise, they recognize the need to invest in training in agile methodologies and processes. They recruit and bring in new talent that is familiar with agile to help train and guide the old talent.

So, companies are doing two of the three things that are necessary to get the benefits they seek.

What are they missing? What they don’t do, or have yet to do systematically, is rework the work environment to support the technologies and agile. The traditional environment is not conducive to agile; in fact, it works against agile philosophies and processes. The traditional IT organization structure and the way companies form and maintain teams works against the agenda.

Companies that get the benefit of these investments find they must go through a process of reworking team size. When they begin that process, they find that not all workloads make sense to move into agile. It doesn’t make sense to move very mature, very stable application environments that are evolving very slowly. If they move these mature environments into agile, they get no benefit and then point to them as examples of agile not providing benefits.

A good first step in moving your environments to agile is to conduct a portfolio analysis of workloads. Identify applications that make sense to migrate and focus on prioritizing them. The workloads best suited for an agile environment are those that are undergoing a lot of change and are tightly integrated and connected to the business. At this point, your company has the right applications and application families operating with the right set of philosophies and methodologies. The next step is to design the DevOps team structure to support the agile philosophy and new technology world. This is the step that companies often fail to take.

Typically, the easy strategy is to start with the methodology, then move to the technology. But if you do this, you’ll end up wondering why you don’t get the benefits. I would argue for the opposite. Do the portfolio analysis, identify which applications or application families should be in the new environment and design the DevOps team structure to fit that. Next train the team on the new agile philosophies and methodologies. Then equip that team with the right technologies to support the company’s goal.

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