How to successfully implement DevOps in a cloud native environment

DevOps is an operating model enabled by automation and coordinated by agile methodologies. It creates a work environment, culture and set of practices in which Software Development and IT Operation practices are merged into a cohesive unit. In such, DevOps can more rapidly and efficiently bring products and services to market through development cycle phases such as continuous integration and continuous delivery workflows (CI/CD).

By embracing a DevOps approach and culture is a strategy that businesses in Asia Pacific can adopt to mitigate the increased risk of service disruption in an environment of increasingly demanding consumer expectations. More than 900 business leaders in APJ (Asia Pacific and Japan) ranked application programming interface (API) and microservice-based integration as the top development priorities, according to the IDC 2020 Asia Pacific Software Survey.

DevOps done right allows organisations to innovate teams and applications constantly, keeping their organisations in lock-step with new technologies almost as they emerge.

Three prerequisites to reaching true DevOps

Getting to true DevOps, particularly when also familiarising oneself with cloud native services, is a journey. Three prerequisites form the foundations of success.

First of all, organisations need to really understand and define what DevOps means to them. Different organisations may have varying DevOps concepts. Therefore, it is critical for them to delineate what DevOps is and consists of to them. Organisations will have to clearly define DevOps in terms of their people, processes, and technology. 

Second, firms must be prepared to completely re-examine practices and procedures around software development and deployment. This may involve completely removing existing practices and restarting from there. They would also have to assess that they have the right stakeholders, ensuring that they have the right people within the ranks of their development, application, database and infrastructure teams. In doing so, they may find it more practical than if they were to transform their existing processes into a DevOps approach. 

Finally, organisations must be comfortable with allowing application owners and developers drive architecture requirements. They must enable and empower the project managers and technical staff to run the processes. These leaders are aware of what is required in the application stacks to implement DevOps. They also have to be comfortable with embracing PaaS and SaaS by default

What does true DevOps for cloud native look like when companies launch new releases?

When teams succeed in combining new releases with DevOps in a cloud native world, these major deployments no longer feel like actual events. Instead, these will be seamless leading right up to launch day. 

When coming up against the release date, the machine will be running smoothly as each team comes up perfectly to gear up load testing in readiness for launch. 

Getting there: is it better to partner up or go it alone?

If an organisation plans to adopt DevOps and cloud native by partnering with a third party, it should engage a vendor with the right capabilities that complement and enhance what it already has. The organisation has to be mindful to avoid creating dependencies on external parties, and ensure that its partner can slot in as an extension of a team. 

If an organisation were to attempt to implement DevOps on its own, it should start small and iterate. The organisation will require a substantial amount of patience as there will undoubtedly be a lot of technical debt to solve, and learning on both sides of the house. By starting small, organisations can take the opportunity to familiarise their teams with the tooling while providing their teams with a conducive environment in which they can work together. That may look like automating a specific aspect of the deployment or considering business needs for uptime, backups and monitoring, then planning the first project from there.

Organisations in the early stages of DevOps often deal with traditional IT pain points such as high costs, instance sprawl and uptime issues. When organisations attempt to solve these issues retroactively, they discover that it is a lot harder to do so than if they had anticipated the issues from the start. On the other hand, organisations in late-stage development have figured out agile and got their teams talking. These organisations have stronger knowledge on both sides of the house and a mature understanding of their stack and tooling. However, it is possible to optimise costs and performance when organisations take action. 

Early-stage organisations have to consider the best ways to deploy DevOps. By being thoughtful and purposeful with tools and standards when starting out, organisations ensure that they do not set themselves up for future technical debt. In addition, organisations will be stronger equipped to tackle potential challenges if they begin by creating a plan to fix potential issues first. Last but not least, organisations should try to get started on DevOps as soon as they can. When organisations hold out on starting DevOps, they lose out and eventually have to catch up with the constantly-evolving cloud technology. 

By deploying DevOps and cloud native, organisations will be able to deliver innovative solutions quicker and improve time to market through streamlined and automated processes.