SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

Blog Feed Post

Your Guide to Building a DevOps Culture

Depending on when you were introduced to DevOps, your perception of how DevOps is implemented will vary. DevOps started as a culture-only movement, and as it matured, it became more and more tactical.

Culture remains at the heart of any DevOps environment. In many cases, culture also remains the hardest part of DevOps to get right. And while there is no one-size-fits-all way to build a DevOps culture, there are some tricks to help implement a healthy one, no matter what kind of organization you’re working with—as I explain below.

Why Culture?

You may hate the word culture or you may love it. It doesn’t matter. The thing about culture is that it always exists, regardless of the environment. In development environments where culture is not deliberate, it will create itself organically, and this usually ends up being a less-than- desirable scenario. It might be a culture of fiefdoms, or a culture of fear—the fear that everything is breakable, and every new feature is deemed a failure even before it is written.

So no matter what, you have a culture. What DevOps principles aim to achieve is culture created deliberately, where the organization decides in advance what culture is going to best support their objectives, and does what is needed to establish, boost, and maintain that framework.

The reason culture has gotten a bad rap is because it’s often a term associated with hipsters and startups. But this isn’t accurate. There are some elements of culture that do seem to belong in the lobby of a startup, but the catalyst for deliberate culture in DevOps was the desire to avoid bottlenecks. You can adopt all sorts of processes and tools to make things go faster, but if the speed is blocked by people who aren’t on board, then the path of more frequent, faster releases at a higher quality will never be achieved.

The other reason culture matters is because DevOps is not just processes and tools. It comprises the principles that keep the delivery chain from becoming a static environment that cannot adapt. If you “implement” DevOps with processes and tools only, then in two years, your environment will look and feel like Waterfall and be unable to keep up with the current standards of development.

Make Culture Comfortable

Developing the right culture can be as easy as organizations admitting they need to support and grow a culture that facilitates better software quality and speed. The awareness of how things are done, with some clear goals, will bring culture top of mind for every team member so they can make it part of everything they do. When they adopt a new tool, they will think about how the tool can be modular and scriptable. Or when they think about communication with other team members, they will focus on being concise and results-oriented. In addition to making it clear that the organization is committed to the culture of better code, here are a few other things a team can do to make a positive culture stick.

  • Stewardship, not dictation. The culture you want or need requires a blessing from the top. But it should not be dictated. To support culture, team members (including both leadership and executives) need to steward culture, not tell people how they should act. You can’t tell someone to be a team player—you  have to show them the benefits of being one. But this also means that if someone does not fit within that environment, they either need to be okay with walking away or the organization needs to be okay with letting them go.
  • Share wins. In order for the team to see the benefits, the successes need to be shared—things like increased release cadence, fewer defects, and more tasks and releases that don’t require human involvement. Not everyone on the team will have exposure to the benefits of their more efficient environment, so the wins and their benefits (more time to focus on innovating business differentiators, fewer repetitive tasks, less burnout, etc.) should be regularly communicated team-wide.
  • Smaller teams. Part of maintaining a strong culture is having smaller, close-knit teams. This is a hierarchical challenge and leadership absolutely needs to be involved. The guidance we have from tech giants like Amazon is that all teams should be “two-pizza” teams—small enough that everyone has a clear idea of each member’s contribution to the team, with visibility into the work being done. This helps each  team work together to maintain culture and create very direct accountability.
  • Shared objectives. One place where organizations often go wrong is competing objectives. Team members will always work toward how they are being measured, and if developers are being measured on new functionality out-the-door but Ops is being measured on things not breaking, then those two elements are in direct conflict. Change equals risk in the Ops mind, so they are motivated to prevent releases, not support them. Management must get everyone on the same page to achieve the same goals.

Things like hierarchy and KPIs are not always in your control. But even developers can start to express the value of a shared culture from the bottom up. Yet, at some point in time, the organization and management also need to see the light. The good news is that as every company becomes a tech company in some capacity, the need to support more frequent application releases at a higher quality will impact the bottom line. And nothing gets management to listen more than the numbers.

Make Culture OK

Because culture seems so subjective, it’s often easier just to focus on the tactics of DevOps as opposed to the principles that will sustain the environment of efficiency. While it’s hard to get the culture engine off the ground, the good news is that once it gets going, it is very much self-sustaining. It’s hard to unring the culture bell, and this is true even when you decide to be deliberate about creating it.

Having the confidence to get the ball rolling and the patience to see the results, alongside the framework above, are the keys to success. Organizations that embrace the development of a DevOps culture will make software delivery more seamless and modern development practices more successful.


The post Your Guide to Building a DevOps Culture appeared first on PagerDuty.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By PagerDuty Blog

PagerDuty’s operations performance platform helps companies increase reliability. By connecting people, systems and data in a single view, PagerDuty delivers visibility and actionable intelligence across global operations for effective incident resolution management. PagerDuty has over 100 platform partners, and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, including Microsoft, National Instruments, Electronic Arts, Adobe, Rackspace, Etsy, Square and Github.

Latest Stories
Most modern computer languages embed a lot of metadata in their application. We show how this goldmine of data from a runtime environment like production or staging can be used to increase profits. Adi conceptualized the Crosscode platform after spending over 25 years working for large enterprise companies like HP, Cisco, IBM, UHG and personally experiencing the challenges that prevent companies from quickly making changes to their technology, due to the complexity of their enterprise. An accomp...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Every organization is facing their own Digital Transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition, or worse, just keep up. Each new opportunity, whether embracing machine learning, IoT, or a cloud migration, seems to bring new development, deployment, and management models. The results are more diverse and federated computing models than any time in our history.
Andrew Keys is co-founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereum.
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science" is responsible for guiding the technology strategy within Hitachi Vantara for IoT and Analytics. Bill brings a balanced business-technology approach that focuses on business outcomes to drive data, analytics and technology decisions that underpin an organization's digital transformation strategy. Bill has a very impressive background which includes ...
On-premise or off, you have powerful tools available to maximize the value of your infrastructure and you demand more visibility and operational control. Fortunately, data center management tools keep a vigil on memory contestation, power, thermal consumption, server health, and utilization, allowing better control no matter your cloud's shape. In this session, learn how Intel software tools enable real-time monitoring and precise management to lower operational costs and optimize infrastructure...
Most organizations are awash today in data and IT systems, yet they're still struggling mightily to use these invaluable assets to meet the rising demand for new digital solutions and customer experiences that drive innovation and growth. What's lacking are potent and effective ways to rapidly combine together on-premises IT and the numerous commercial clouds that the average organization has in place today into effective new business solutions. New research shows that delivering on multicloud e...
While a hybrid cloud can ease that transition, designing and deploy that hybrid cloud still offers challenges for organizations concerned about lack of available cloud skillsets within their organization. Managed service providers offer a unique opportunity to fill those gaps and get organizations of all sizes on a hybrid cloud that meets their comfort level, while delivering enhanced benefits for cost, efficiency, agility, mobility, and elasticity.
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Data center, on-premise, public-cloud, private-cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud, IoT, AI, edge, SaaS, PaaS... it's an availability, security, performance and integration nightmare even for the best of the best IT experts. Organizations realize the tremendous benefits of everything the digital transformation has to offer. Cloud adoption rates are increasing significantly, and IT budgets are morphing to follow suit. But distributing applications and infrastructure around increases risk, introdu...
DevOps has long focused on reinventing the SDLC (e.g. with CI/CD, ARA, pipeline automation etc.), while reinvention of IT Ops has lagged. However, new approaches like Site Reliability Engineering, Observability, Containerization, Operations Analytics, and ML/AI are driving a resurgence of IT Ops. In this session our expert panel will focus on how these new ideas are [putting the Ops back in DevOps orbringing modern IT Ops to DevOps].
Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web. With staff in 10 timezones, Isomorphic provides a global network of services related to our technology, with offerings ranging from turnkey application development to SLA-backed enterprise support. Leadin...
Cloud is the motor for innovation and digital transformation. CIOs will run 25% of total application workloads in the cloud by the end of 2018, based on recent Morgan Stanley report. Having the right enterprise cloud strategy in place, often in a multi cloud environment, also helps companies become a more intelligent business. Companies that master this path have something in common: they create a culture of continuous innovation. In his presentation, Dilipkumar Khandelwal outlined the latest...
On-premise or off, you have powerful tools available to maximize the value of your infrastructure and you demand more visibility and operational control. Fortunately, data center management tools keep a vigil on memory contestation, power, thermal consumption, server health, and utilization, allowing better control no matter your cloud's shape. In this session, learn how Intel software tools enable real-time monitoring and precise management to lower operational costs and optimize infrastructure...
The dream is universal: heuristic driven, global business operations without interruption so that nobody has to wake up at 4am to solve a problem. Building upon Nutanix Acropolis software defined storage, virtualization, and networking platform, Mark will demonstrate business lifecycle automation with freedom of choice and consumption models. Hybrid cloud applications and operations are controllable by the Nutanix Prism control plane with Calm automation, which can weave together the following: ...