Wrangling in Your DevOps Cowboys

DevOps practices are helping change what it means to run a successful IT organization and along the way, organizations are increasingly finding themselves facing new challenges and needing state-of-the-art solutions to address those demands. As with all new organizational strategies, DevOps can have the potential to turn your IT department into the Wild West if the proper culture, processes, and supporting strategies are not put into place.

Historically, development teams have been built around a culture of focusing on project specs and coding, not having to worry about how the app will function in production environments. Once an app is developed, it is out of the hands of the dev team. That is not the case in DevOps environments, where development teams are asked to take a proactive role in collaborating with production workers to identify when stability problems can be resolved through a simple change to the code. DevOps strategies can be tricky to implement, but the following points will provide you with a solid backbone for starting on your path to a more Agile IT infrastructure:

Getting Cultural Buy-In
Culture is more than just a business buzzword that gets thrown around when executives want to make their operating environments seem refined and sophisticated. The right organizational culture helps to improve user compliance to best practices and helps organizations operate at peak efficiency because everybody in the company is on the same page.

You need your team members to buy into this cultural change for DevOps to be successful, as employees who don't take responsibility for their code when it moves into production can be a detriment to your organizations service goals.

Improve Processes
A good cultural setup doesn't just give developers more responsibility, it also requires that operations teams closely analyze apps and services that are used when putting anything into production. To some extent, DevOps asks everybody to do more work, and get it done faster. This isn't feasible without the proper processes to assist both teams; if you don't improve processes to empower your team members then all of the benefits of DevOps can be diminished almost instantaneously.

Advanced IT service management tools offer organizations opportunities to simultaneously improve processes and automate repeatable operations. For example, release management modules can automate many of the repeatable, tedious operations that come into play when releasing new versions of apps, giving production teams more time to troubleshoot and ensure stability. Similarly, many ITSM solutions can automatically document processes. The right process management and automation capabilities can ensure you give your workers time to adjust to DevOps functions and follow best practices.

Get Your Change Management Practices up to Date
Change management operations have traditionally focused actions taken prior to the change, sending key processes through multiple levels of approval and following up afterward to make sure the configuration remained stable. These slow, methodical change processes do not translate well into a DevOps environment. Modern change management solutions are beginning to focus on reactive change principles - creating a process infrastructure in which users are free to make changes quickly, but documentation and automation allows them to undo any changes that went awry with ease.

DevOps emphasizes a need to act quickly and efficiently, giving developers and operations workers more personal freedom to get the job done, but at the cost of less governance. Emerging change management models let you build governance into operations after the fact, minimizing any damages caused by user error while ensuring your workers are still free to operate at peak efficiency.

Taming the Wild West Without Losing Its Beauty
An image of a cowboy riding into the sunset is still widely considered a picture of beauty and freedom. The right cultural ideals, process advances, and ITSM investments can ensure that your DevOps strategies grow and evolve in such a way that they continue to provide positive results within your organization. Don't let your IT department take on the negative attributes of the Wild West. The right change management investments can keep your DevOps cowboys on track without having to tie them down in restrictive policies or tasks.

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