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The 4 Biggest Challenges DevOps Faces Today

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Since the DevOps concept burst onto the scene more than a decade ago, numerous organizations have recognized its benefits and quickly adopted it in their software development process. DevOps can and has delivered a wide range of benefits.

Still, the road to DevOps adoption isn’t hurdle-free. There are formidable challenges. Identifying these challenges is a crucial first step. Armed with this knowledge, businesses can craft the right responses to keep their DevOps implementation relatively seamless. Here’s a look at the biggest challenges to DevOps adoption today.

1.    The Dev versus Ops Mindset

The very term DevOps is a portmanteau of Development and Operations. It therefore follows that DevOps primarily seeks to break down the traditional barriers that exist between the development and operations teams in an organization.

In times past, development and operations teams saw themselves as distinct units of a software project. Each team would be focused on getting their part of the project done so they can hand it over to the other. Developers were in a constant rush to roll out the software, apply any changes and fix bugs. Operations teams were keen on ensuring the system worked as expected with near zero downtimes and errors.

These core objectives of the two teams often seemed to be in conflict with one another. Handovers between the two would be abrasive, costly and time-consuming. The challenge for DevOps is to overcome this confrontational mentality and ensure the priorities and goals of Dev and Ops are aligned. This may require restructuring staff roles, breaking up departments and reassigning reporting lines.

2.    Transitioning from Legacy Infrastructure to Microservices

Legacy applications and infrastructure may have served an organization well for years. Over time though, running and maintaining these systems becomes ever more problematic. Legacy systems eventually become plagued by instability, a dearth of customer support and an inability to give the business the technological foundation it needs to keep up with the competition.

The need to break away from legacy infrastructure is a key reason why organizations are moving towards the microservices and infrastructure-as-code approach of DevOps. This architecture not only makes the development lifecycle faster and more versatile, it also simplifies the process of replacing outdated and monolithic apps or modules.

While DevOps thrives under the microservices approach, the main challenge in transitioning from legacy systems is the need for a strong foundation of configuration management, automation and continuous delivery. In the absence of such a base, it becomes difficult for DevOps teams to manage the increased workloads that accompany microservices.

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3.    An Excessive Emphasis on Tools

Like every new trend that sweeps the tech industry, the rise of DevOps has been accompanied by a rapid growth in the number of software tools that claim to satisfy some or all DevOps requirements, such as Loggly which offers log monitoring in the form of an easy-to-use dashboard.  

While such tools can certainly be useful in automating the process, they also introduce new headaches. You have to train employees on how to use these tools, ensure the tools satisfy your security requirements, and ascertain that they comfortably integrate with your existing software development infrastructure.

These new challenges can inadvertently pull you away from your primary DevOps priority—your team. Your people are a much more important factor in the success of DevOps adoption compared to any technology you could apply.

Getting your processes, staff and organization structure aligned with DevOps paves the way for any tools you acquire to power the new methodology. In other words, let the streamlining of process and procedure be what determines the appropriateness of the tools you apply.

4.    Resistance to Change

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Humans are innately drawn toward comfort zones. Once you are used to a certain routine or way of doing things, especially one that appears to have worked for you so far, switching to a different method is something you’ll likely do so reluctantly.

The switch to DevOps will therefore take place in an environment of reservation, doubt and sometimes outright resistance from teams and management. If you don’t have the buy-in of key stakeholders, your move to DevOps could fail.

To make change attractive, package the new process as an advancement of existing practices as opposed to a revolutionary transition. The change itself should be gradual and smooth so it has minimal disruption on current process. This gentle learning curve gives teams time to grow accustomed to the new process and recognize its clear benefits to the development lifecycle.

Eventually, the very individuals who were reluctant to make the change could be your most vocal champions of the DevOps process.

Acknowledging these challenges to DevOps allows you to prepare early to overcome them. Surmounting these hurdles before they can become a significant impediment to DevOps adoption can make the overall transition much smoother.