Don’t get your “DevHopes” high

If you’ve hibernated for the past couple of years and only now woke up, you will be tempted to think that DevOps will solve all your problems and propel your organization into the stratosphere. And indeed, DevOps holds a great promise for any tech-centric organization. The concept of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery is indeed essential for modern, cloud enabled businesses.

The Devhopes and dreams goes something like this- there is a sound methodology, the organization embraces it, the R&D manager hires qualified people that then run by themselves towards the horizon.

However, the road to of achieving this utopia is often littered with organizational strife, difficulty to man positions and retain personal and a general feeling of disappointment. In fact, this isn’t just a feeling- according to Gartner, through 2023, 90% of DevOps initiatives will fail to fully meet expectations.

So why is there such a gap between expectations and reality, and how can one bridge this gap?

First- let’s identify the challenges:

People:

  1. DevOps are hard to find- since the industry is very young and growing in an exponential rate, the available, experienced manpower is not sufficient to fill all the open positions. Unlike traditional developers, DevOps skills are obtained through years of hands-on work and therefore “fresh” graduates (of software or coding schools) are not the solution.
  2. DevOps are expensive- DevOps make on average an annual salary of 144,00 US$, which is one of the highest salaries in the software industry.
  3. DevOps are hard to retain- DevOps suffer from high attrition due to them being aggressively poached by other companies and also by the fact that they are required to engage in mundane tasks instead of actually developing (not to mention that DevOps environment is fast-paced, high pressure and with little tolerance for errors and downtime).

Technology

  1. Need proprietary tools- DevOps use a variety of tools and systems for their daily operation. These tools could be expensive, difficult to use and require integration with the organizational systems. This also makes it difficult for newcomers to get a grip and “hit the ground running”.
  2. Scriptology — This is a tough cookie. DevOps love their scripts, and they use scripts them for multiple purposes. The problem is those scripts are seldom documented, require constant care and update and are very difficult to pass on to the next guy.

Organizational

  1. Change of mentality and operational flow- DevOps is not just a profession, it’s also a mindset. Organizations that were used to work at a leisurely pace are now required to speed it up and break the silos between design, development, testing and deployment. This will result in pushback by some functions within the organization, who would love to maintain the “old order of things”.
  2. Management buy-in and expectations’ management: naturally, to succeed in such transformation organizations need to have full support from their executive. But this could turn into a double –edged sword; too much expectations that will not materialize quickly enough could result in premature disappointment and desire to slow the process or reverse it.

Conclusion:

The goal of this article was not to deter you from shifting to DevOps. We believe it is a necessary, if not compulsory change to the way tech organizations operate. But it is important to understand the potential pitfalls and prepare accordingly. This includes obtaining management approval (but not to create unrealistic expectations), bringing the right people on board (recruit if necessary) and give the right tools to do their work. Tools can expedite the shift to DevOps and augment the available manpower, all of which are required in order to achieve success.

The Kaholo team