Five Lessons Learned from a Legacy to DevOps Transformation

Billy Macdonald, Director of DevOps, Agero
Billy Macdonald, Director of DevOps, Agero

Billy Macdonald, Director of DevOps, Agero

DevOps was introduced a decade ago, but the term is still murky. At its core, DevOps is about putting the best practices of software development and operations together into one streamlined process. These are then used to implement solutions in a repeatable, consistent way to drive stability, security and reliability.

But while DevOps generally represents a singular idea, there isn’t one standard way for all companies, or even teams, to do DevOps. Questions may abound: does it manifest as a job, process, or tool? As a result, many business leaders may struggle to understand how DevOps fits in with their current IT environment.

I hope my company’s experience can help. At Agero, DevOps efforts gained steam in late 2016 as we looked to migrate workloads to AWS and transition from waterfall to Agile processes. This timing with other major transformations was critical. Our plan to go to the cloud provided the mindset needed to make the significant culture change DevOps would require, and our DevOps approach was instrumental for moving to cloud. Together, Cloud, Agile and DevOps transformed our company.

DevOps now permeates throughout many aspects of our work as an entirely new strategic approach, toolset, culture and identity and has been one of the best ways for us to deliver innovation at speed. The transparency and openness across teams and people fosters partnership and removes major bottlenecks and silos. We can now make improvements and changes and have features implemented faster and more consistently and reliably to be better than the industry. We’re also empowered to improve overall service levels and reliability when change happens.

 While DevOps generally represents a singular idea, there isn’t one standard way for all companies, or even teams, to do DevOp  

Our Lessons learned

But getting to this point took time, effort and learning. Here are five major takeaways from this process:

• DevOps will require a culture change. A DevOps strategy will change long-used processes and procedures: communication will become more open, project work more transparent, and responsibilities shifted. Some team members will thrive and others will not. People change management will be critical.

• Agile and DevOps approaches go hand in hand. These strategies are very aligned and intertwined. Transitioning to just one approach will be difficult – or perhaps impossible – without transitioning to the other.

• DevOps isn’t a sticker you can slap onto any existing application. DevOps shifts how an application is developed, tested, integrated and deployed. Every ancillary step, process and procedure will need to be changed. A transformation to DevOps won’t happen all at once.

• Not everything will fit into your DevOps mold. A business may plan to ‘transition everything,’ but that might not always be possible. In some cases, it may be easier to let old projects die rather than transition them. In others, changes will likely be time and labor intensive and may spin off new teams, such as DevSecOps.

• DevOps is never ‘done done.’ The transition to DevOps will be a continuous and progress will ebb and flow. When we first moved to the DevOps strategy, we easily migrated some applications, but now, we’re exploring how we spread DevOps into more.

The transition to a DevOps approach won’t be the same for every business, but by keeping these lessons in mind, however, you can plan well and avoid surprises that may hinder success. 

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