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Collaboration and community the key to DevOps success in 2017

What is the best way to ensure DevOps success in 2017? Most experts agree that community and collaboration play a key part.

When it comes to DevOps, collaboration, cooperation, and culture are the watchwords on the tongue of every expert speaking about the topic. While  process and technology is a big piece of the DevOps puzzle, there is a growing realization that it takes a village to make DevOps work. that may have been the key to increasing attendance and bringing this community closer together.

Looking back at DOES 2016, many of the DevOps Enterprise Summit speakers mentioned why being plugged in to the DevOps community matters so much.

DevOps can span multiple organizations

Gene Kim, author of The Phoenix Project and the face of DevOps, recognized the fact that everyone is in the DevOps transition together and pooling resources is wise. It is events like DOES that bring this reality to the forefront, opening up opportunities for problem solving in previously unheard of ways. Gene spoke about his surprise and delight at seeing cross-industry collaboration as a result of bringing diverse companies together at events like DOES.

In one instance, he found that a large retailer and a media company were both trying to harden their POS systems. When the two organizations realized that they were working toward the same goal, they spent a week working together to create a solution that would benefit both companies. The entire community benefited as well. “Since hardened POS is something that is necessary but doesn’t deliver a competitive advantage, they made it open source IP.”

Vendors are learning to play well with others

Derek Langone, CEO of XebiaLabs, pointed to the fact that DevOps requires far more than just cooperation internally between Dev and Ops. In fact, the principle of collaboration extends far beyond a single organization. For example, vendors must be willing to share knowledge and resources with providers in adjacent fields if they want to truly meet the needs of enterprise clients.

Langone admitted that this is one of the realities of having expertise that is an inch wide and a mile deep. It’s not possible for one DevOps vendor to pretend to do it all or to offer a standalone solution. “Our clients have multiple technologies that need to be deployed. You have to cooperate with those around you.” Attempting to corner the market would be impossible and counterproductive. Since DevOps is still in the early adoption stage but gathering momentum, now is the time to form strong strategic partnerships.

Tooling for communication boosts collaboration

Daniel Perez, a software engineer at HPE, put it this way, “DevOps is a journey. You’re implementing a lot of new technology with new features. But in the spirit of DevOps you shouldn’t keep that to yourself or your own team. You want to expand it and give it to other teams.” That’s the principle behind ChatOps, a collaboration model that creates a transparent workflow for people, tools, process, and automation. In fact, it is used to automate communication itself, since DevOps entails constant deadlines that mean the right people have to know the right things at the right time. ChatOps brings together previously disconnected pieces like defect tracking, source code management, and can even pull in graphs and previous issues into a relevant conversation. It’s just another example of how DevOps is making sure everyone is on the same page.

DevOps must be customized for success

As the DevOps revolution continues to grow, dissensus has not yet become consensus regarding what the methodology is all about. But there doesn’t really need to be a single definition that everyone adheres to in an obsessive fashion in order for it to work. In fact, too much rigidity was one of the problems with Agile as enterprises tried to scale up their processes. According to consultant Gary Gruver, “Agile and some of those initiatives got so wrapped up in the rituals, they lost track of some really good principles. It was really supposed to be about releasing code on a more frequent basis and getting more timely customer feedback.”

Trying to force every team into the same DevOps mold doesn’t work either. Gary has experienced the most success with clients when he keeps things flexible. “If you don’t let the people own their plans and how they do it, it won’t be successful and you won’t drive change.” He advocates educating organizations about the principles and letting teams have a choice in how they implement solutions since every organization has different problems. The focus should be on providing business benefits as rapidly as possible to get buy in. That’s the secret to change management at the organizational and individual levels, and certainly the recipe for success with DevOps.

Next Steps

When it comes to implementing DevOps, community is key

Continuous integration and continuous delivery make DevOps easier than ever

Delivering Devops shouldn't be that hard

This was last published in December 2016

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