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People, processes, and product are the most important things in your business. Getting in the right mindset to implement DevOps should be a net benefit to those three pillars. If the process improves, the people who work for you will be happy, and the customers will be happier with the product that those people deliver.

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DevOps is a heavy issue to tackle. To make matters more difficult, the term DevOps is used interchangeably, which can make things more confusing. Is DevOps a set of tools? Or is DevOps an organizational mentality? DevOps first and foremost is an organizational mindset that heavily relies on procedures and methodologies. Those procedures and methodologies are very specific and technical, so there is a set of tools that are purpose-built for DevOps-focused organizations.

Often, we get customers that are looking to implement DevOps as a toolchain. They will reach out to us and say things like “We are looking to implement DevOps, and our engineers internally say that means implementing Kubernetes…” Another case that we see very often comes from the C-suite, where a CTO, CEO, CIO, or CxO will want to implement DevOps tools and Kubernetes “because that is what the rest of the industry is doing, so we have to do that too!”

Consulting for organizations in this time of rapid digital transformation requires a great deal of customer education. Sadly, most customers don’t want to be educated, they just want to hire consultants to implement the new DevOps hotness.

We have learned a great deal about DevOps as we have been implementing it since 2015, so we would like to share 3 tips on how to get into the DevOps mindset.

The goal of sharing these tips is to help you make better-informed decisions when it comes to undertaking your digital transformation.

The Goal Of DevOps Is Repeatable Process

The goal of running a business is to serve your customer base and to grow that base. To provide consistent results and keep customers coming back, or recommending your product or service, you need to have a handle on all your business processes. This ranges from the onboarding of employees to the delivery of products - technical and non-technical. It encompasses the full scope of your business. Here are some great examples of companies (and one intelligence organization) that implemented repeatable processes, which they have used to scale their operations globally, or win a war:

  • McDonalds - Whether you go to a Mcdonald’s in Dubai, or Bentonville, Arkansas - you know that the fries and the burgers are going to be the same. There might be some region-specific items on the menu that differ between US locations and foreign locations, but the experience and the core products are all delivered in the same manner. You know that the fries will taste and feel the same wherever you are in the world. Regardless of what you may think about the quality of their food, you can go to a Mcdonald’s with a high degree of certainty that you are getting the same fries and burger.
  • Ford Motor Company - Henry Ford was able to produce a vehicle that was affordable and ubiquitous by implementing an assembly line. While there were still people on that assembly line, they all had one job, and they did that job the same for every vehicle that went by.
  • Bletchley Park And Project Ultra - During World War 2, Germany was using an encryption system known as Enigma. Dr. Alan Turing developed a machine to crack the code that the Germans were using, which allowed allied commanders to get inside Germany’s military decision loop. This ultimately proved decisive for Allied operations which ultimately defeated Germany. A machine was built to crack Enigma, then those intercepts were passed to translators, who would then compile the raw intelligence into a product that would be distributed to commanders and planners in a very timely manner.

As you can see, repeatable processes are important for the successful outcome of scaling operations (or winning a global conflict).

It is important to first arrive at what you want to accomplish. Do I want to get the product out the door faster? Do I want to make my website faster and more resilient? Do I want to deliver content and influence large groups of people? When you can identify the vehicle that drives your organization to success, you can then focus on how to script or automate the process of getting there.

DevOps Tools Are A Means To An End

There are a great many software companies, consultants, and influencers out there trying to separate you from your wallet. It is important to understand the scope of your existing process before you can start thinking about the tools needed to get there. We see a lot of potential clients that try to implement Kubernetes to manage their workloads at scale, when in fact they could have gone with a much simpler architecture to get their product or service to market. They fell victim to some technical evangelists who convinced them that this new hotness would be the answer to all their technical problems, only to find that implementing it would create more problems than it would solve. When you have a hammer, everything is a nail. This is true for technical leadership that gained career experience with Kubernetes as the first (and often only) platform that they have ever worked on.

The key takeaway is to understand the problem that you are trying to solve before you spend the resources to implement a given toolbox.

DevOps Does Not Replace People

You will always need people in your process. Serving customers and delivering a service is a people-focused endeavor. Everything in this world is about people in some way, shape, or form. If your aim is to replace people, you are thinking about DevOps all wrong. The goal is to make the lives of your talent and customers easier, not to eliminate them entirely. When your technical people are less worried about deploying code into production on a Friday night, they will be happier employees. There will always be opportunities to streamline your company for efficiency. Repeatable processes, and the creation of, is a perpetual pursuit. You need people to identify those opportunities and implement those solutions.

Conclusion

People, processes, and product are the most important things in your business. Getting in the right mindset to implement DevOps should be a net benefit to those three pillars. If the process improves, the people who work for you will be happy, and the customers will be happier with the product that those people deliver. Go into your digital transformation with the focus of improving the sentiment of those three important pillars and you will have a successful transformation.