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Adopting DevOps: Fail fast and try again

Adopting DevOps is no longer a matter of "if", but "when." With 50% of organizations implementing DevOps in 2017, and no signs of slowing at an enterprise level in 2018, companies across all industries are looking to gain speed and agility through DevOps. But, the road to transition is anything but smooth as many teams are experiencing setbacks or halts in their process. Is there a better way to start adopting DevOps?

The key to a successful adoption may lie in a not-so-popular concept we know from agile methodology: Fail fast. And, while failure does sound contrary to success, failure actually encourages quality, innovation, and resilience in future iterations. Because, let's be honest, no one likes failing multiple times due to the same mistakes. We think an approach that emphasizes fast feedback loops or the ability to fail fast and iterate again, is the most effective when looking to adopt DevOps. So, as you being your journey to adopting DevOps, take a look at some tips below, and just maybe, you can avoid some of the mistakes we made along the way.

Understand that the journey to adopting DevOps is far from straightforward

2018's Puppet State of Devops Report found that teams looking to scale would often hit a wall when faced with frequent starts and stops in their DevOps journey. There are multiple reasons for a team suspending or abandoning a process altogether —resistance to change, legacy infrastructure or budget restrictions—, but a greater issue can be found when the team does not see their journey for what it is: a continuous process that's meant to be adaptable in order for a product to be perfected and expanded on.

In understanding your transition, it's important to keep these three key aspects in mind:

  • Continuous
    DevOps adoption is an ongoing process, which means there's no actual marker for judging when a team has "fully" adopted the methodology. Rather, a mature DevOps teams has the ability to pivot and adjust to changing requirements quickly because they're focused on collaboration, communication and a holistic understanding of the development lifecycle.
  • Shifting Left
    In search of continual streamlining and improvement, ensuring high quality standards are met from the onset is vital to DevOps. Practices like continuous testing and deployment allow for quick validation and fine tuning so processes and products are always evolving and accommodating customer needs.
  • Adaptability
    Getting stuck on an initial vision is counterproductive to both team and final product, as it will ultimately lead to greater failing when the end user doesn't actually receive a desired or valuable functionality. Having the flexibility to accommodate changes fast not only reduces time spent reworking, but facilitates innovation and saves you money in the long run.


Ultimately, "failure" is something that should be seen as an opportunity to correct and improve, not a deterrent. Given the right guidance from a DevOps expert, failing continuously, and quickly, allows for faster adjustment and evolution of a product that's both valuable and innovative.

[MODERNIZE YOUR PROCESSES | DevOps Transition & Cloud Architecture Design and Implementation]

DevOps requires understanding the whole picture, not just your piece of the puzzle

Companies have a tendency to start implementing new concepts without having a full understanding of the core aspects, and the same has been true of DevOps. DevOps as a culture promotes collaboration, integration of teams, and the use of tools to speed up processes, but teams often rush to implement technical solutions without realizing the most important transformation has nothing to do with tools or automation.

Essentially, all team members must understand that the entire value lifecycle is now a shared responsibility, and that any individual member's output isn't limited to lines of code, but encompasses the added value that's delivered to the customer. And, while this may seem to imply all team members need to be polymaths, what it actually calls for is collaboration. First and foremost,—making use every member's strengths in order to balance out weaknesses, sharing knowledge, and proactive providing suggestions from any point in the lifecycle, towards the overall success of the project.

[READ MORE: 5 DevOps challenges you must overcome during adoption.]

DevOps adoption works best as a slow and gradual transition, not an overnight cure

Trying to tackle a DevOps transition all at once can easily lead to burnout and cynicism. When your team is doing too much, too quickly, the project can start to lose momentum and team members might feel less engaged. If your team isn't on the same page in terms of goals, expected results, and an overall understanding of the "why adopt DevOps" things can go downhill very quickly, jeopardizing any benefits you might have achieved.

Starting small is a better approach to making lasting progress towards reaching a mature DevOps adoption. It's important to make sure your organization and teams understand the larger picture but can focus on the problem at hand, and define which aspects need to be addressed first and how it relates to the overall goals. By tackling a specific element at a time, you can amass small wins along the way and keep your team motivated and engaged.

Conclusion: the trick is to keep trying

Hitting obstacles can be discouraging and lead companies to believe that DevOps may not be right for their organization. However, the agility, quality, and collaboration that can be gained through DevOps is worth going through a few bumps on the road. By trying to accept failures when they happen and viewing them as an opportunity to learn, you go a long way in understanding how DevOps works best for your teams and your organizations. Supporting teams as they make this change will encourage them to rise to the challenge of advancing and pushing the limits of their own capabilities and imagination to add greater value and learn new things.


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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

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