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Habits of Highly Successful DevOps: IT Industry Experts Dish

5 months ago, By

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Editor’s Note: In this piece, Avinash Lakshman, CEO and founder at distributed storage company Hedvig, talks with his peers about how to make DevOps work in the enterprise. 

We’ve all heard about the great things DevOps has to offer. According to Gartner, DevOps will evolve from a niche to a mainstream strategy employed by 25 percent of Global 2000 organizations by 2016.

For enterprises who have gone all-in on DevOps, or are planning to do so, a critical question remains, “How can I make sure my DevOps team succeeds?” I encountered this same question during my time at Amazon, Facebook and now at my own company, Hedvig. At these places, I found that embracing a philosophy based on learning and staying current with new techniques has been key to a successful DevOps organization.

Remember that the DevOps world is interconnected by many technologies, most having distributed systems at their core. If you’re not familiar with distributed systems algorithms and architectures, then you need to study up! Also, get out and meet people: It’s easy to get trapped in your office with looming production deadlines. But DevOps and distributed systems are such new disciplines that they often require collaboration and brainstorming to solve problems in new ways.

With that in mind, I’ve also enlisted the help of IT industry luminaries and DevOps experts from Apcera, ClusterHQ, Puppet Labs and SignalFx to add to the list of habits and skills DevOps professionals should keep in mind in order to effectively contribute to a successful DevOps practice. Here’s what they had to say:

Don’t Forget Your Roots

“Although I run a company, I still enjoy coding and commit hours every week to work directly on our product. No matter how high up in the tech world you get, or how much automation you end up using, it is important to realize that understanding how components work together at the micro level is critical to understanding the macro level of managing and scaling infrastructure as well as your organization.

You should also play well with others. The biggest projects simply cannot be done alone. Collaboration is the major tenet of the open source movement and has spawned projects like Docker, CoreOS and others. The right tools and platforms help dev, DevOps and IT teams work together and ensure that new applications and microservices are secure as they move into production. This fosters trust between teams and gives organizations the freedom and agility to innovate at speed while automating access, enforcement and allocation of resources.”– Derek Collison, CEO and Founder at Apcera.

Consider a Change of Scenery and Embrace Change

“The DevOps life can sometimes be a long and tedious existence if you don’t break through the monotony. Code testing and deployment takes a significant amount of time and patience, so I like to periodically step away from the computer and take time to do something else. One of my favorite places to find ‘coding inspiration’ is at a pub called The Goods Yard, near our office in Bristol, which just happens to be built inside an actual shipping container. There’s something poetic about coding for containers whilst also being surrounded by one.

You should also embrace change. DevOps has proven that microservices architectures are highly successful for today’s modern applications, but with this approach inevitably comes endless change. A successful DevOps person needs to have an aptitude for change and a personal vow to never being married to a single idea or line of code. Luckily this lifestyle is perfect for those of us who were reprimanded as children for never sitting still or not paying attention in class.” — Luke Marsden, CTO and co-Founder at ClusterHQ.

Automate what you should, not just what you can

“Many IT shops believe that to be a highly successful DevOps shop they need to automate the most complex tasks and processes first. Unfortunately, this approach usually excludes legacy applications which our 2015 DevOps Report clearly shows have huge performance gains from applying automation and other DevOps practices. When choosing what to automate, the smallest yet most common tasks are often the ones that have the biggest net gains. These gains build confidence and often create a snowball effect that allow teams to tackle ever more complex tasks and processes, building trust and agility into the way teams work cross-functionally.” — Carl Caum, technical marketing manager at PuppetLabs.

Move Fast

“It turns out that the way to move fast is through decentralized, parallelized development. You have to drive friction out of the process of releasing code and seeing its impact. Engineers must be able to instrument and analyze their own metrics at will, so they can see results immediately and make local development decisions. Freeing DevOps to experiment in this way surfaces the best ideas, enabling an evolutionary approach to solving problems and building a great product.” — Phil Liu, chief technology officer at SignalFx.

Apcera and Docker are sponsors of The New Stack.

Feature image via Pixabay.


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