How an Effective DevOps Culture Can Lead to Better Automation

It’s easy to think that DevOps and automation are interchangeable, but that’s not the case. Rather, automation is an integral aspect of the overall DevOps picture. Understanding the difference between the two can take an organization to the next level in terms of optimization and efficiency.

First of all, we must understand that DevOps is more than just a single tool or process. It’s a mindset. Businesses that approach their IT operations with this DevOps mindset seek to create an IT infrastructure that is more tailored to the needs of the business. Treating their colleagues as customers and understanding the value chain will help provide the right services for the organization. This, in turn, will lead to a more effective deployment cycle, better code in production, and appropriate recovery times via repeatable and consistent workflows. An anecdote I always think of – how do I make the services as good as what my colleagues can get elsewhere?

At some companies, different departments become silos, focusing solely on their own tasks and goals and losing focus on the value chain. With DevOps, that structure changes as development and operations teams come together to solve problems. By working together both sides will have a better understanding of the other’s disciplines and workflows. On top of that, both sides will see what obstacles and challenges the other faces, which they can then address. In the end, having a strong DevOps culture will start to reveal repeatable workflows, allowing for automation across different processes and ultimately delivering increased value to the business.

Combining Agile working practices with DevOps, change can be managed in a feature focused manner, with faster interaction and response. There are two main goals in play here: feature velocity – the ability to quickly deliver functional, incremental software, and delivering business value – prioritized functional requirements of the process and system as a whole. In order to reach these goals, a strong DevOps culture will automate the vast majority of the overall development and delivery process so teams can focus on specific, value-add areas. To achieve this, investment does need to be made in achieving the working practices and “automating the norm.”

We’ve seen this kind of DevOps culture growing within our clients’ organizations, as well. Sharon Cooper, chief digital officer of BMJ, a Datapipe client, emphasized a need for IT teams to meet goals faster than ever before. She estimates around 60 percent of BMJ’s portfolio of medical and science journals moved into DevOps within the past year. Instead of once a month, the company now releases software three to four times a day, and since much of that process is automated, there’s no worrying amongst the team.

“It’s the biggest non-event,” Cooper said. “There’s no anxiety, no standing around to see whether it’ll work or not. Nobody’s on tenterhooks.”

Knowing that your automated processes can lead to more time and energy spent on deeper dives is certainly a breath of fresh air. With a strong DevOps culture, you can continually evolve the level of automation while differing functions can work on what they do best. When you’re providing a better user experience for your customers, it makes the process that much sweeter.

For more information on DevOps as a mindset, check out my piece on EnterpriseTech. And, as always, if you have any insight to the conversation, feel free to reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Jatil serves as Director of Product Development in Devops and Automation for Rackspace, the same position he held at Datapipe, Jatil leads the development of Trebuchet, a platform helping clients to adopt modern cloud and application practices and manages the team of developers bringing the vision to fruition. He writes about DevOps, automation tools, development and how technology can help enterprises. Outside of Datapipe, Jatil is a technology enthusiast, always keen to learn what’s new and how it works.