DevOps is a mindset, a culture and a set of technical practices. It provides communication, integration, automation, and close cooperation among all the people needed to plan, develop, test, deploy, release and maintain a product.
As part of this, both cultural transformation and a change in mindset are of central significance. It’s no longer about “them”, but about “us”. Teamwork is the foundation of DevOps. Mutual trust, empowerment, responsibility, continuous improvement, data-based decision-making and customer empathy are the DevOps values.
For Zühlke DevOps is: Bringing all the people, processes and technology together to continuously deliver value to our customers!
Everyone contributing to the value stream – the DevOps practice is not operating as a silo but rather as an enabler for collaboration with many disciplines.
Thanks to DevOps, companies can increase feedback cycles and throughput speed. As a result, they can react more quickly and impress their customers with constant innovation. With DevOps a company can optimise and automate processes, from the idea over development to production. This increases efficiency, which in turn lowers costs.
Working on a business-critical application is essentially open-heart surgery: It demands exceptional methodology and technical skills. Seamless migration of data, archives, and ongoing business must be guaranteed at all times. Most companies wait too long to start the modernisation process, resulting in additional time pressure and poor underlying conditions. This situation is compounded by the fact that the company is often lacking sufficient knowledge of the outdated application and the supporting processes like a continuous delivery pipeline within the organisation. DevOps transformations are, therefore, change projects that go beyond simple technical modernisation and do also involve organisational changes and updated processes. For this reason, support from management is critical for DevOps transformations.
At first glance, a DevOps transformation seems to be a major undertaking for any company. But with the right approach, you can keep the process lean and agile. It’s important to start small. When getting started, it’s best to tackle small to medium-sized projects or products. These offer the advantage that changes require much less time and energy because decisions have less impact and involve fewer people. And you will encounter less resistance, as the teams and decision-makers will not feel overwhelmed or paralysed. This will increase self-confidence and create strong momentum.
Putting together a winning DevOps team
Getting the right people on board is a must. And the golden rule here is – generalists before specialists. It’s also important that your team includes innovators, early adopters and people who are respected throughout the company. This ensures that you have sufficient credibility and influence.
The brand-new DevOps team needs to be freed up from any other work so that they can focus completely on the project. If possible, all team members should work in the same location and be exempted from corporate rules and guidelines wherever possible. This new team will then transform the first project or product thanks to DevOps.
The first step is to optimise the value flow from development, to operations, right through to the customer. The goal is to have features flowing through to the customer as quickly as possible, as it is only there where value is generated. To achieve this, you need to make the work visible, reduce batch volumes and work intervals, and thereby increase quality.
The second step is to introduce a flow of feedback. This ensures that feedback from customers, as well as any production problems, flows through to the business and back into development. And this means that you can discover problems more quickly and resolve them efficiently. You can use focused measurement and usage analysis to show the business which features are used, and how often. This helps the business decide whether a given feature should be expanded or not.
This is what the DevOps culture looks like
The third step is to create a culture of trust, which will support experimentation and risk-taking. It will also put the team on a steeper learning curve, enabling it to adjust to market demand faster than the competition.
As soon as the requested improvements are incorporated into the first product, you should be selecting and transforming the next project or product. This enables you to reach a critical mass, which makes it easier to undertake further transformations with DevOps and build alliances. Repeat this procedure until all desired projects and products are transformed.
From ideation to operation – a next-gen mobile banking experience, medical-grade software for infusion pumps, or embedded software that runs on a connected construction machine - we can handle just about anything.
Regina Dietiker is a partner at Zühlke and responsible for the DevOps Practice at Zühlke Switzerland.
Creating and maintaining successful customer products and modernising applications is her passion.
Stefan Novoszel joined Zühlke in September 2018. After graduating as DI (FH), Stefan gained in depth experience regarding the digitalisation of customer channels. He worked in the insurance-, banking and telecom sectors. His passion lies in the creation of digital value chains with which companies can inspire both their customers and their own employees.
Andreas Karsten loves working with customers and partners on innovative and transformational international IT Projects. As an Engagement-Manager, he has a long experience in supporting many German MDAX and DAX accounts across all industries, including Public-Sector.