Shifting to a DevOps culture and style of development will cause problems, especially in terms of culture and employee acceptance, but organisations should deal with them head-on, according to experts speaking at the Computing DevOps Summit in London this week.
Sarah Wells, principal engineer at The Financial Times, explained that one problem the company did not deal with straight away was simply asking staff to work out of hours to deal with the extra work.
“We backed off dealing with the out of office [hours] issue when we should have just been agile about it and tried it and seen how it worked and gone from there," she said.
Once the firm did address this, the problem was not as difficult as they feared. “We put a rota in place and people were fine with it. It really was not as hard as we thought,” said Wells.
David Stanley, head of IS operations at Trainline, explained that this was also a problem that the firm had “not thought about upfront” and had to address down the line, and that it would have been better to just tackle it from the off.
“If we could go back and do it again that would be something we would have looked at and asked how we needed to deal with it,” he said.
Paul Houghton, technical delivery manager at NHS Choices, added that he wished the organisation had been more blunt about the adoption of DevOps.
“We’re not in a position where we have a mature, agile development environment, and figuring out how to integrate operations into that is quite a struggle,” he said.
“If we could start from scratch I would bang the two things together and just figure out how it works from there.”
Wells also emphasised a point that was raised throughout the day regarding selling DevOps to those in the business who will be most affected.
“DevOps is all about culture change, and that is a challenge when you have lots of teams in specialised silos with people very invested in their roles," she said.
"You’ve got to convince them that it’s not a risk to their job, even though it’s a new and scary thing. It's really a chance to become more integral to the future of the business."
However, the panellists poured scorn on the notion of adopting a 'bi-modal' approach to IT, whereby the more traditional IT functions sit next to the DevOps teams. Stanley called it a "terrible idea".
"With DevOps there's lots of talk about getting good people in the door and creating the right culture to work in an agile way, to feel more empowered and so on, and bi-modal IT just goes against all that," he said.
"You’re going to have half the people getting glory, and half being ignored. With a two-tier system you’re going to make people unhappy, and it just slows things down."
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