DevOps accelerates, requiring new leadership styles

A majority of organizations are employing DevOps to some degree, and dramatic reductions in development-to-production lead times are expected.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

It's clear that DevOps initiatives -- in which development teams work in sync with operations staff to keep software moving as required -- are now underway at a majority of organizations. Now, the time is ripe for leaders to step forward and take things to the next level.

Photo: Joe McKendrick

A recent survey of 244 IT professionals from DBMaestro finds the majority (55%) are already using DevOps in at least 20% of their projects. At least one-third, 33%, are going even deeper -- using DevOps in more than half of their projects.

There is some progress in terms of adopting continuous delivery of solutions. A majority, 54%, report they have fully achieved continuous delivery of applications. However, there is still work to be done -- only 36% say this applies to databases and 31% for infrastructure.

One-third of respondents deploy more than once a week, a number that is expected to double in the coming year.

Develop-to-production lead times, an important measure of DevOps sucess, is still wanting, but likely to accelerate in the months and years ahead. Currently, for the most ambitious shops, about 12% report this lead time as a day or better. Over the coming year, 23% hope to be moving applications into production within a day. In contrast, 41% say this process takes more than a month, but this number may drop to 23% by next year (they hope).

At least 17% have completely missed the DevOps boat altogether. If you're in one of these organizations and appreciate the potential value of DevOps, your job is cut out for you as educator and evangelist.

Ultimately, DevOps is a transformational initiative for the entire business, and thus requires leaders with the right attitudes and outlooks. As Marianne Calder, vice president with Puppet, puts it: "DevOps is not something a company can practice or buy. It is a culture where continuous questioning, experimenting and learning is a part of everyone's day-to-day activities."

The leadership needed to move DevOps forward focuses on culture, she adds. "A culture where it is everyone's job to challenge the status quo, continually bettering the organization, its developments and practices.Leaders cannot achieve DevOps outcomes on their own but good leaders help build great teams, great technology, and great organisations indirectly, by enabling teams to re-architect their systems and implement continuous delivery and lean management practices."

If you are a believer and want to lead your organization into DevOps, Des Nnorchiri, a software designer, has some words of advice on what it takes to be a DevOps leader:

Understanding of modern software engineering: "While there's no firm requirement to understand a specific programming language you will need to understand programming algorithms and robust systems design," says Nnorchiri.

Familiarity with modern software architecture: "DevOps managers will need to familiarize themselves with cloud instances and services, as well as lower-level software infrastructure such as Linux distributions and databases when deployed in a cloud."

Confidence in managing security incident responses: "Be able to lead a team during an incident and work with the team to evaluate your security processes."

Ability to communicate clearly and concisely: This is a key soft skill that is just as essential to DevOps leader than technology skills. "At times you and your team will be under immense pressure and you will need to ensure that you can communicate and give instructions clearly whilst understanding the pressure your team might be feeling," says Nnorchiri.

Knowledge of collaboration techniques: This includes "the ability to identify and brainstorm infrastructure changes, ensuring that all team members can easily contribute to the discussion."

Editorial standards