DevOps Adoption: How to Start the DevOps Conversation

  • November 28, 2017

Recently our CEO, Aater Suleman, gave a Webcast presentation, “DevOps Adoption: Framework for IT Modernization” in what was a far-reaching discussion that shared everything from a DevOps definition to examples of successful enterprise DevOps adoption such as Rent-A-Center and Verifone. Based on his experience working on more than 100 enterprise DevOps initiatives, Dr. Suleman was asked how to kick-start a conversation about DevOps adoption within an organization. Today we’ll share his best practices and tips to get the proverbial ball rolling on a DevOps implementation within your organization.

  • Start with a problem.
    You don’t want your proposal to look like a solution in search of a problem. To have a productive conversation, identify a problem within your organization that already exists and you want to solve. The best problems are ones where there is an application or solution that needs to be delivered faster than traditional IT can support. With a use case in mind, start the conversation from the problem — not the solution — standpoint.

    For example, at Rent-A-Center (RAC), the RAC and Flux7 teams identified an initial use case which was a partner portal called Virtual Acceptance Now (VAN). In using a DevOps model, we built the minimal viable parts needed to deliver the portal, which was completed in record time.
  • Set a measurable goal.
    Setting a goal that can be measured will allow you to illustrate success at the end with a yardstick that has been agreed upon. And, you’ll be able to use your measurable success to further the conversation for even greater DevOps adoption within the organization. At Rent-A-Center, for example, the rapid success of the initial DevOps project paved the way for subsequent DevOps initiatives within the organization.  
  • Get buy-in.
    You will need to get buy-in from Development if you are in Production — and vice-versa — as DevOps requires cross-functional effort. To help make your conversation a success, be sure to have a clear structure and know what your goal is — and just as importantly, what your goal is not. Communicate both clearly and work together as a team to eliminate those things that won’t help you achieve your goal.
  • Engage security early.
    Engage security early in the ideation and design phase. This is extremely helpful as it enables you to achieve your goal of delivering technology in record time by baking security in from the beginning, and achieving security approval early.

    For example at Flux7 customer Verifone, security was baked in by design. Secure information like secrets were automatically injected into services as they were deployed, resulting in automated, continuous security, and PCI compliance. This level of security and obtaining approval of the security team early on helped this project become deployed in record time, which has in turn led to more and more teams at Verifone adopting a DevOps framework.
  • Assess your DevOps maturity and identify the MVP DevOps platform.
    A mistake organizations often make is to focus on building out the DevOps platform rather than remaining focused on the specific use case. As they try to boil the ocean and create an exhaustive platform, they make little headway with the use case and quickly find that they have burned six months or more, at which point the project is at high risk.

    Instead, Dr. Suleman recommends that organizations focus on the use case and build the minimum needed to get the project across the finish line. In this way, you’ll be much more assured of project success. You can further reduce risk by starting with best practices rather than learning them as you go–which can lead to increased risk of failure. While there are naturally some things you will learn along the way, there are well-publicized, foundational platform best practices that any organization can adopt from day one.
  • Build a platform and adopt the use case.
    Take your use case and build the minimal viable platform needed to fail fast. In the process, target agility of independent management wherever possible. And, leverage advanced services to save time. For example, rather than starting with Infrastructure as Code (IaC) on-premise, it’s much easier to do it in AWS or another public framework, which allows you to deliver on your use case faster.

    At Verifone, we used this process which led to an unprecedented launch of a new business line in record time and resulted in a new, dedicated DevOps team. At Rent-A-Center, this allowed us to build an agile, flexible infrastructure for its ecommerce system which delivered flawlessly on Black Friday.

Listen in to the entire Web presentation here to learn more tips and tricks to successful DevOps adoption in the enterprise.

For additional reading on getting started with DevOps:

  • A Primer: What is DevOps? And how do Code, Config, CI/CD & Containers Relate
  • The Flux7 Enterprise DevOps Framework, a model for marrying DevOps process improvement with digital transformation.
  • Seven Steps to Successful and Sustainable DevOps Transformation
  • The Socratic Approach: Why We Start DevOps Projects With “Why?”.
  • Why We Teach Our Customers How to Fish
  • DevOps Case Studies

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