10 big devops mistakes and how to avoid them

Devops continues to grow in popularity as organizations look for ways to add efficiencies to the development process. Research and Markets, a market research firm, predicts that the worldwide market for devops tools and services will grow from $10.56 billion in 2023 to $29.79 billion in 2028.

Among the drivers for devops are increased demand for scalability, growing industry recognition and best practices, the maturing of devops tools and the devops ecosystem, and increased demand for continuous integration and deployment.

Devops practices can yield faster time to market for software tools and increased collaboration between IT and operations teams. But certain mistakes can sabotage your team’s development efforts if not addressed.

10 big devops mistakes to avoid

  1. Dev and ops teams don’t communicate
  2. Cybersecurity is an afterthought
  3. Complex IT infrastructure doesn’t scale
  4. Devops priorities don’t match business goals
  5. New technologies break the devops workflow
  6. Old technologies break the devops workflow
  7. Cultural resistance slows devops adoption
  8. Remote work slows devops collaboration
  9. Dev and ops want different things
  10. Automation doesn’t solve everything

Dev and ops teams don’t communicate

Although devops is designed to foster better collaboration and communications among teams, implementing it is a hurdle for some organizations.

“One of the significant challenges with devops is ensuring seamless communication and collaboration between development and operations teams,” says Lawrence Guyot, president of IT services provider Empowerment through Technology & Education (ETTE).

“Historically, these units have worked in silos, leading to inefficiencies and misunderstandings,” Guyot says. “To combat this, we implemented a cross-functional team approach, where members from both departments participate in all stages of the product lifecycle, from planning to deployment.” This has led to a more cohesive workflow and a decrease in deployment time by 30 percent, Guyot says.

Effective communication “can be a bedeviling challenge,” says Javier Muniz, CTO at law firm LLCAttorney.com. “Many organizations underestimate the value of soft skills, such as communication and collaboration, in a practicing devops environment. To handle this, it’s essential to create a conducive environment for transparent and regular communication across all teams.’

Cybersecurity is an afterthought

Ensuring the security of the software supply chain in a devops environment can be challenging.

“The speed at which devops teams operate can sometimes overlook essential security checks,” Guyot says. “At ETTE, we addressed this by integrating automated security tools directly into our CI/CD pipeline, conducting real-time security assessments at every stage of development.”

This integration not only helped the firm identify vulnerabilities early, but also ensured that security practices kept pace with rapid deployment cycles, Guyot says.

Strong security and data privacy are especially important in regulated industries such as healthcare. “In the highly regulated healthcare sector, securing patient data is paramount,” says David Pumphrey CEO at healthcare IT provider Riveraxe LLC. “We addressed this by embedding security into every stage of the devops process, integrating security automation tools that perform continuous vulnerability scanning and compliance monitoring.”

By treating security as an integral part of the development and operations workflow, rather than as an afterthought, “we significantly minimized the risk of data breaches,” Pumphrey says.

Achieving a balance between rapid deployment and robust security can be a challenge, says Reade Taylor, founder of Cyber Command, LLC, a managed services provider specializing in business IT and devops services. “In the pursuit of high development velocity, it’s all too easy to sideline security concerns,” he says.

Complex IT infrastructure doesn’t scale

Technology infrastructures are growing ever more complex, particularly at large enterprises. The rise in remote/hybrid work, shifting resources to the cloud, and the increased use of mobile devices has added to the complexity, and this can have an impact on devops.

“Managing the complexity of modern IT infrastructures can be daunting for devops teams,” Guyot says. “As we shifted more resources to the cloud, managing and scaling these complex environments became a considerable challenge.”

ETTE invested in training its devops team on advanced cloud infrastructure and services, focusing on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), to ensure team members were well-versed in managing these platforms efficiently.

“This enabled us to scale our operations without compromising on performance or security, ultimately leading to a 40 percent improvement in operational efficiency,” Guyot says.

Devops priorities don’t match business goals

Any technology initiative that’s out of alignment with the goals of the business overall is bound to deliver less than stellar results, and devops is no exception.

“Aligning devops with business goals can be quite the hurdle,” says Remon Elsayea, president of TechTrone IT Services, an IT solutions provider for small and mid-sized businesses.

“It often seems like the rapid pace of devops initiatives can outstrip the alignment with broader business objectives, leading to misaligned priorities,” Elsayea says. “To mitigate this, my approach has been to regularly convene cross-functional teams to review devops strategies in the context of current business goals, ensuring that IT initiatives support the overall company direction.”

New technologies break the devops workflow

Technology staffers and business users alike are eager to try out the latest and greatest technology solutions. It is a mistake to integrate new technologies into the devops cycle before ensuring they are a good fit with existing products.

“It’s tempting to jump on the latest tools or platforms, but each addition can introduce complexity and learning curves,” Elsayea says. “We adopted a ‘proof of concept’ approach before fully integrating new tools into our devops workflow. This involves small-scale trials to assess the impact and efficacy of new technologies, ensuring they contribute positively to our processes without unduly increasing complexity or reducing efficiency.”

Old technologies break the devops workflow

Organizations that are still using older IT systems might find it a struggle to implement a devops strategy.

“One notable challenge is the integration of legacy systems with modern devops practices,” Pumphrey says. “These older systems often lack the agility needed for a seamless pipeline, leading to bottlenecks.”

To tackle this, Riveraxe focused on incremental modernization, wrapping legacy systems in application programming interfaces (APIs) to expose their functionality to newer, devops-friendly interfaces. “This not only preserved essential functions, but also streamlined operations, reducing deployment time by around 20 percent,” Pumphrey says.

Cultural resistance slows devops adoption

Not everyone in an organization’s IT or development function will be quick to embrace devops. Change can be difficult, and cultural resistance is an underestimated challenge in implementing devops, Elsayea says.

“Transitioning from traditional siloed teams to a more integrated approach can meet resistance,” Elsayea says. “To address this, fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration was key. By creating an environment where feedback is valued and failures are seen as learning opportunities, we gradually nurtured a more cohesive and flexible team dynamic.”

This not only smoothed the integration of devops practices, but also drove innovation and employee satisfaction. “Making these adjustments and overcoming these challenges requires a blend of patience, strategic thinking, and an openness to evolving team dynamics,” Elsayea says.

Fostering a culture that fully embraces the devops philosophy has been an ongoing journey for Riveraxe, Pumphrey says. “Initially, there was resistance to the rapid change and collaboration it entailed,” he says. “We counteracted this by implementing comprehensive training programs and establishing clear communication channels to ensure all team members understood the benefits of devops practices, such as increased efficiency and enhanced product quality.”

The team also celebrated small successes and learnings from failures, reinforcing the idea that continuous improvement is a collective achievement, Pumphrey says. “This approach has not only improved team dynamics, but has also led to more innovative solutions and a more resilient IT infrastructure,” he says.

Remote work slows devops collaboration

Whether an organization has a remote or hybrid work model in place, at least some employees are likely to be working offsite at some point. This has become a fact of life for companies since the pandemic, and will likely not go away anytime soon.

The remote work trend can impact development. “Managing remote devops teams presented unique challenges in maintaining communication, collaboration, and oversight,” Taylor said. “We tackled this by establishing robust remote work policies, embracing tools and platforms that foster collaboration, and nurturing a culture of trust and autonomy.”

Regular virtual check-ins and clear documentation of processes and progress ensured that remote teams remained cohesive, productive, and aligned with organizational goals, Taylor said.

Dev and ops want different things

Teams are not always on the same page when it comes to development goals. This can be another roadblock for devops.

“One common challenge I’ve encountered is harmonizing the divergent goals of development and operations teams.” Muniz says. “Development teams aim for rapid changes, while operations teams seek stability.”

One solution to this is instilling a culture of shared responsibility—having the teams work together from project initiation to final implementation.

Automation doesn’t solve everything

Organizations in all industries and of virtually all sizes are looking to add automation to IT and business processes. This makes sense because of gains such as cost savings, accelerated processes, and reductions in errors. But automation poses unexpected challenges for devops.

“Counterintuitively, automation, a critical component of devops, can also present difficulties,” Muniz says. “Not all processes are suitable for it, and attempting to force automation can lead to inefficiency.”

It’s vital to understand that automation is not an all-or-nothing concept, Muniz says. “Identifying and targeting the right processes for automation saves time and resources,” he says.

Copyright © 2024 IDG Communications, Inc.

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