Justifying Your DevOps Revolution
Recently a colleague asked me for help in convincing his manager to allow the team to adopt DevOps. At first, I was surprised that improving the software delivery process even required a justification. Then I realized that the battle to promote the DevOps transformation may indeed need to be fought on a group-by-group basis, as most organizations do not declare, “Thou shalt do DevOps.” Here’s how you might approach justifying your own DevOps revolution.
The simple answer is that DevOps helps improve the security and reliability of your systems, especially in terms of application deployment. But to get folks who are not experts in this space to really appreciate the value of DevOps, you need to paint the picture a little bit better. DevOps is going to change the way your team works in many important ways.
DevOps, at its core, is really a cultural shift aimed at improving the way people communicate and collaborate. But the results are usually focused on improving your ability to build, package, and deploy code. So one key selling point for DevOps is that you can meet the needs of your organization with greater agility, and that can make a huge difference in terms of your business and profitability. But sometimes management would prefer not to change the way things are done—especially when there’s cost involved.
I have seen teams implement DevOps from the bottom up in almost a stealth mode, similar to the way some end-users bypass IT and do their own “shadow” development. Obviously, this is certainly not the optimal approach; it is far more effective to communicate how DevOps will help you deliver changes to your system faster and in a more reliable way than before. For example, infrastructure as code means you can build your systems from scratch, and that can be a huge advantage, especially when you need to scale in a virtualization environment.
The truth, though, is that DevOps requires (often expensive) tools, plus the investment of time and effort, to create an automated deployment pipeline and comprehensive automated testing procedures. DevOps is not free, but it does yield a strong return on investment.
The best way I have seen organizations justify DevOps is by meeting with senior management and explaining a few key points related to DevOps, such as its ability to deliver more reliable and secure systems. From there you should ask for the time and resources to pilot these practices on one small project. Achieving success in this manner does involve a lot of risk, but if you can demonstrate your success, then your management may indeed see the value of implementing DevOps practices.
DevOps is all about improving the way you communicate and collaborate. Doing a good job of communicating how and why you want to adopt Devops could result in your getting senior management support—and a budget for those shiny new deployment tools you wanted.