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The DevOps process is hard. But here are seven ways it's easy

Attend a DevOps conference and it seems every company struggles with the methodology. We asked seven experts to tell us how DevOps is easy. Hint: It's not the people.

The DevOps process is hard. It's hard to roll out, hard to scale, hard to get everyone on board and then hard to maintain. But something must be easy about it, right? We asked seven of our experts to talk about the easiest part of the DevOps process. Their answers may surprise you.

Most agree the technology aspects -- like implementing CI or automated deployment tools -- are the simplest way to start doing DevOps. In that way, DevOps is actually an easy sell. DevOps lets developers spend more time coding and ensures their work is closer to business intent.

Then again, maybe the best way to kick-start DevOps is to ask the simplest questions of your own process -- what would it take to push this line of code to production? -- and knock one roadblock aside at a time. That's more of a cultural approach. And while establishing DevOps culture is definitely not painless, there are ways to make it easier.

You can start slowly
Jeffrey Hammond, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research

"Well, it's easy to get started on the road to [DevOps process] improvement by asking a very simple question: 'If we changed one line of code in this application, how long would it take to get in into production using our normal processes and tools?'

"Once you get that answer to that, then ask: 'Why? What's the first easiest thing we can change to shorten this cycle?' Then repeat that question again each time to remove a roadblock, automate a manual process, or change a tool.

"The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step."

Technology is your friend
Matthew Heusser, managing consultant, Excelon Development

"Usually, putting a basic CI harness in place and an automated deploy system is relatively easy. It's the people, culture and risk management pieces that are hard."

It can be an easy sell
Torsten Volk, senior analyst, Enterprise Management Associates

"The perspective of freeing up a large share of the approximately 30% of developers and operators absorbed by constant release preparations makes it at least easy for management to motivate staff to adopt DevOps process. Additional motivation for both operators and developers is that they get to play with leading-edge technologies that will look good on their resumes and that their entire group will become much closer to the business."

Is the DevOps process that hard?
Theresa Neate, test consultant, quality analyst

"I beg to differ that everyone says or even thinks that [the DevOps process is hard].

Technology is easy. It's people who are hard.
Gordon Hafftechnology evangelist, Red Hat

"But if anything is 'easier' than the rest, it is likely the tooling. That includes all forms of automation.

"Tooling is one of the first things teams implement when doing transformations to the DevOps way of life, because it is not only more visible than some other changes, but also because technology solutions are mostly easier than process and people solutions.

"As DevOps is, in reality, 'Agile infrastructure,' I do need to remind our readers that this Agile tenet still holds true for us too: 'Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.'

"So yes the tools might be easier, but we still need to address processes and especially individuals and interactions in our DevOps transformations."

Easy to begin, hard to continue
Bob Reselman, developer, system architect and columnist

"Yes, agreeing to commit to working and growing in the DevOps paradigm is pretty easy. Actually doing the ongoing work required to meet the commitment is a lot harder, particularly as external forces pressure teams to incur technical debt in order to meet short-term goals and quarterly profits."

The cloud can help
Gordon Haff, technology evangelist, Red Hat

"Technology is easy. It's people who are hard. Integrated container-as-a-service/platform-as-a-service cloud services may not give you something that's tailored to your exact requirements for production applications out of the box. But they can give you a surprisingly easy onramp to development environments, build tools, monitoring and other useful tooling that's ideal for DevOps workflows and cloud-native app development. You can fine-tune later on but get started surprisingly quickly."

Hearts and minds
Rob Lambert, owner and founder, Cultivated Management

"DevOps is essentially bringing together people from potentially different teams, with different skills, to enable a more seamless and friction-free delivery of value to production.

"At a technical level, it's often a challenge, but not something a group of like-minded, talented people cannot solve. The technical challenge, for some people, can be reasonably straightforward and really engaging. One of the hardest aspects of DevOps can be in influencing hearts and minds about this new change, especially in environments where the roles of dev and ops have traditionally been separate.

"Of course, if you don't have hearts and minds to influence around a new change, then the journey will be all the smoother and, in some cases, reasonably easy."

This was last published in April 2018

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