Swift delivery is something that every organization is striving for. Any product or service that has a longer delivery cycle is either being disrupted by alternatives that offer faster delivery or undergoing an overhaul to speed up the process.
A major decelerator for the delivery is that the development and operations teams have been traditionally working in silos. It is more of a cultural obstacle than a functional one and software development organizations are no different. Communication between development and IT operations teams is limited to troubleshooting issues through a centralized ticketing system.
Until recently, IT and Operations did not match up to the Agile Development Team with respect to speed. Even if the developers could churn a functional code relatively early, the process was still impeded by siloed structure of testing and release departments. Shorter development iterations needed equally competent testing for seamless integration into mainline product.
DevOps has broken the silos between development, IT, and operations for an accelerated product delivery. Essentially, it is an evolved Agile methodology with Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) being the main add-on.
With CI, developers can integrate code to the mainline continually and CD presses on the need to develop only the code that can be put to production. While there are many similar definitions proposed by different schools of thought, the main tenet of DevOps is to facilitate collaboration and break down siloed processes into functionally communicating central assets.
DevOps has facilitated collaboration across the departments of software product engineering in following three main ways:
1. Structuring Teams to be Cross-Functional
It is a common observation that team members communicate well among themselves. If the team has experts across the entire software delivery cycle, operational silos would be automatically broken.
A basic structure for a cross-functional software development team would comprise developers, testers, analysts, and database administrators. Each team member would contribute a code to the version-control or can modify a part of the software as per their assigned task.
In contrast, a siloed team would have only developers or testers with their own ways to deliver on a task. Such isolated teams are inefficient in inter-team communication and take longer to address an issue that requires collaboration. A DevOps team is focused on delivery and is evolved enough to tackle each issue as its own.
2. Employing Automation Tools
DevOps implementation in software product engineering demands efficient sharing of resources like information on framework or language used in product design. Communication tools like Slack, Planning Tools such as JIRA, Ticketing Tools like Confluence, and Automation tools like Docker or Puppet have filled in the gaps to enhance the collaboration between the teams.
3. Centralizing Responsibilities
A common problem with siloed teams is lack of absolute ownership. It takes a few emails and calls to find the accountable resource and assign task for the needed. DevOps has bypassed the hassle of finding ‘who is responsible’ because a DevOps team is self-served and each team member is accountable.
Due to multiskilled resources, specialist silos in software product engineering are broken. Any resource who is authorized to perform deployment can deploy the code or stop integration when needed. Versioning all artifacts like code, infrastructure or configuration helps in isolating changes and integrated change management prevents unnecessary rework.
Adopting DevOps model requires a systemic change across the organization. Such changes alter the whole IT value chain and not just the developers or testers. This reorientation requires careful planning to encourage cross-functional teams while balancing out the siloed functions during the transition.
It is also important to understand that DevOps is methodology to enhance the efficiencies but it can’t redeem an already inefficient process whose challenges are bigger than siloed teams. An experienced DevOps Consultant can help you in identifying the opportunity areas for transformation of product development process and point out the prerequisites before beginning with the DevOps way.