DevOps does not equal automation. To make DevOps succeed, organisations need to focus on automating their constraints, minimising bottleneck and focusing on measured improvement, writes Jeff Keyes
“DevOps is not about what you do, but what your outcomes are,” said the wise Gene Kim, and we would do well to heed his direction. What he’s urging us to remember is that while DevOps is about enabling a faster speed of working throughout the development process, fundamentally it needs to help in achieving results. Unfortunately, this often gets forgotten in modern-day DevOps practices.
Here are five common mistakes that can occur in DevOps if the end result is not constantly top of mind and how you can avoid falling into these dangerous traps.
If you’re doing it right, you need to measure it right
It is a common belief that, at its core, DevOps is simply about automating everything, but this can be a simplistic view. Once you automate, are you actually delivering a better outcome?
The answer is not always simple. While metrics such as deployment frequency or mean time to repair (MTTR) are important indicators, they don’t necessarily determine if your team is delivering actual value any more than measuring the number of lines of code submitted or counting the number of keystrokes by the development team. Before measuring outcomes, you need to establish a baseline to understand where you start and where you end.
A key part of this is understanding that DevOps is so much more than automation. It’s actually about the entire pipeline and how your team moves through it from ideation to delivery to production. Even large companies that are leading the way in DevOps aren’t always the best role models for defining the problem, managing the value stream, and putting together multiple pipelines.
For example, I have had conversations with organisations that claim to have been “doing” DevOps for 18 months yet hadn’t delivered anything into production in that timeframe. But is this really implementing DevOps? DevOps is a process, sure, but if it produces zero value it’s not delivering on its promise.
To combat getting into this situation, the focus should be on delivering value and measuring that value as it is delivered into production. However, as mentioned before, you can’t measure value added if you haven’t defined what it means to your organisation as a whole and each individual deliverable.
Common metrics to track include the number of story points, actual revenue from product comparison and customer satisfaction. By starting with clearly defined metrics, you can measure value as it gets delivered to the customer.