How to Implement DevOps Best Practices

Implementing DevOps best practices requires a shift in culture, communication, technology, and processes to improve the development cycle, deployment process of applications and infrastructures.

The benefits of DevOps implementation are clear; organizations that embrace the shift to DevOps release more capabilities, faster experience fewer performance issues. 

According to Puppet’s 2018 State of DevOps report, elite performers deploy code 46 times more often, have a 2 555 faster lead time from code commit to deployment, have a 7 times lower change failure rate and are 2 604 times faster to recover from incidents.. 

Despite the obvious advantages, a DevOps transformation isn't an endeavor to take lightly. As Ian Head, research director at Gartner, predicted, "90% of I&O organizations attempting to use DevOps without specifically addressing their cultural foundations will fail.”

DevOps implementation encompasses every component of an IT ecosystem, and requires an organization-wide cultural shift. Achieve a successful DevOps transformation by incorporating the following best practices as you adopt a DevOps philosophy for your company.

Build momentum with organic collaboration

The optimal start to a DevOps transformation involves natural collaboration between the development and operations teams versus a manager with little tech experience reading an article and issuing a proclamation for change. 

Although not always possible, a naturally established rapport between involved teams often develops into a symbiotic relationship, and the cultural shift towards DevOps methodology happens gradually from within. Facilitating increased communication between your development and operations teams may provide the necessary support to develop a strong foundation for DevOps implementation.

The right tools can serve as another helpful factor in improving communication and collaboration. A shared source of data can provide objective information and reduce finger-pointing or guesswork while making it easier to pinpoint the root cause of an error or failure.


Begin with baby steps

Choosing manageable, quantifiable projects for an introductory implementation of DevOps allows management and team members more opportunity to measure success and potential, such as Cloud-based projects which enable faster iterations or customer-facing ones with clearer business impacts measurements. 

Trying to roll out an organization-wide initiative creates disruption and a scope of work that makes it more difficult to quantify the benefits of implementation; however, starting with manageable projects that demonstrate the advantages of development and operations teams working together can help create momentum around the idea of a shift to DevOps philosophy.


Identify key metrics

It can be particularly difficult for upper management to understand the benefits of a DevOps transformation. Gather metrics to serve as evidence of the advantages by benchmarking your current state, including how often updates are released, how many support tickets are generally filed after a new release, how long the average application issue exists, and the business impact of each issue. 

Collecting this information beforehand provides quantifiable evidence of the positive impact of a DevOps approach.


Work together, separately

In large-scale organizations, it can be helpful to have a core DevOps team manage tooling automation, and to assist developers with the implementation of new agile approaches. 

The centralized DevOps team can help reduce objections to learning and implementing new tools and strategies by streamlining the training and implementation process so that developers aren't saddled with their daily responsibilities as well as learning new technology independently.


Automate infrastructure and your CI/CD pipeline

Leverage modern environments infrastructure as code to automate your IT environment creation, provisioning and management up to auto-scaling.

Start small with automation and validate the process before scaling up, so that you can make improvements in easily-defined segments.


Embrace Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) allows teams to decrease the time necessary to issue updates or deliver software while increasing the quality of the product thanks to repeatable automation. 

Continuous Integration allows multiple team members to work on multiple modules independently before pushing it to a team build server each day to integrate work in a common build area to verify its efficacy. 

Continuous Deployment ensures that all changes are ready for deployment by taking validated builds from CI and launching them in a production environment which acts as a temporary staging area for production.


Communicate company-wide

Clearly, communication and collaboration between the development team and the IT team are key factors as you're transitioning to a DevOps culture. Working with common goals and intentions is crucial to effective integration. Being able to measure such KPIs is a key enabler. However, it's important that the entire organization understands and embraces the shift to DevOps practices. Sales and marketing, product development, security, and quality assurance (QA) teams will experience some overlap in processes, and should develop an understanding of what the company is trying to accomplish by implementing DevOps.

Employing best practices during your organization's DevOps transformation allows for greater innovation, faster development and deployment, and a reduction in performance issues while encouraging a culture of collaboration and communication.


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