In this article, we’ll explore whether code freezes still have a place in Agile practices and discuss how feature flags could be used as an alternative.
With the rising popularity of DevOps practices in the modern software development world, it’s no surprise that there’s a lot of myths surrounding the concept of DevOps.
In other words, there’s a lot of confusion about what this concept entails. What does it actually mean when we talk about a DevOps team or organization? Even with its widespread adoption and implementation, there are many misconceptions and confusion as to what the term actually means, how it can be implemented and by whom.
However, one thing's for certain. DevOps, when properly implemented, can bring a great number of benefits and value to teams and customers alike. Thus, this article seeks to address its most common misconceptions so teams can better understand this concept and reap its benefits for more efficient and streamlined processes.
Before we get started, let’s quickly go over what DevOps actually is to allow us to debunk its most common myths.
DevOps, from its name, comes from a combination of development and operations with the purpose to promote better collaboration and break down communication barriers between these teams for enhanced productivity.
Today, DevOps has become an umbrella term for an approach which encompasses a set of tools, practices and culture that aim to increase teams’ ability to deliver higher quality software quickly to end users.
Next, we will dispel some of the most common myths about DevOps to help shed light on this concept and get the most value out of it in your own organization.
Myth 1: DevOps is all about the tools
Often, the first question that comes to mind when we hear DevOps is which tools an organization is using or which are the top tools for teams to adopt during their DevOps journey.
However, it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to understand the real value behind the DevOps methodology.
DevOps is more than just a list of tools to adopt for your software development practices. It’s an approach that brings teams together to deliver more value to end users.
In that sense, DevOps foremost starts with people. It’s about building the right mindset and culture to promote better collaboration so that teams no longer work in silos. Once you’ve established those, you can then choose the right tools that fit in with your team and processes.
It’s up to the leaders in an organization to lay the foundation to build this culture of DevOps and inspire their teams to adopt the values of DevOps which will then allow them to implement them in their daily workflows in order to build better software to meet customer demands faster.
Myth 2: DevOps and CI/CD are one and the same
While CI/CD are essential processes to successfully implement DevOps, these are not the only components that make up this methodology.
Yet, there are many that confuse the two and believe that DevOps and CI/CD are the same thing.
It’s true that the continuous integration and delivery of software indicates that an organization has adopted a key principle of DevOps but as stated above, the concept goes beyond just the tools and processes and focuses primarily on establishing the right culture and mindset for all these key components to thrive.
CI/CD processes help enable this culture by providing a set of tools that emphasize automation but they are only a part of the DevOps methodology.
It’s important to remember that DevOps grew from a need to create cross-functional teams that can effectively collaborate and communicate throughout the software development lifecycle.
Therefore, CI/CD provides the tools necessary to streamline your software delivery process but it’s only a means to an end. Instead, organizations should focus on bringing together the right combination of people, processes and tools to truly embrace the DevOps methodology.
Myth 3: DevOps is a replacement for Agile
The methodologies of DevOps and Agile are sometimes confused to the point that some claim that DevOps is replacing Agile or believe that the two terms are interchangeable.
In fact, DevOps and Agile can be seen as complementary rather than synonymous; the two are not mutually exclusive and both can exist separately in an organization.
The underlying goal of both is to improve the software development process to deliver products quickly and efficiently.
However, Agile provides a framework that enables teams to break down projects into manageable chunks or “sprints” through iterative development to respond quicker to fast-changing consumer and market needs.
DevOps, for its part, is focused on breaking down silos between development and operations to allow for quicker releases through the use of tools and a fully automated pipeline. It also goes beyond the delivery process and refers to an entire culture that should be adopted within an organization.
You can look at Agile as a methodology for developing software while DevOps as a set of practices for delivering software that necessitates a cultural shift. Both still focus on speed and collaboration.
In that sense, they are complementary approaches-as DevOps enables and builds on Agile practices. Incorporating both into your daily workflows will help improve the efficiency of your software development processes.
Myth 4: DevOps is the answer to all problems
It’s a common misconception that just because you’re implementing DevOps practices within an organization, nothing can ever go wrong. However, you can’t just automate everything and believe that everything will go smoothly.
DevOps also involves developing the right strategy and incorporating the right tools to drive processes that are managed by the right people. If your team isn’t ready to move with the velocity required for these tools to function appropriately then it’s likely your shift to DevOps will only lead to disaster.
DevOps should also go beyond just automation and should incorporate continuous feedback loops from automated processes that developers can use to improve and optimize products.
Myth 5: DevOps means releasing new software non-stop
On the same note, just because DevOps places emphasis on all things continuous, this doesn’t mean that it is a guarantee for non-stop releases.
It’s important to note that the idea of “continuous” shouldn’t be taken too literally. When we say continuous, it rather means that teams have established processes in place that enable them to ship new releases confidently whenever needed. It’s about keeping your code in a constant releasable state so that teams have the confidence and ability to release as often as they want.
Depending on the organization and team objectives, this could mean releasing new software anywhere from several times a day to once a week or every two weeks.
The ultimate goal of DevOps is smaller, more frequent releases but this should never be at the expense of quality. After all, DevOps may be about speed but it’s also about releasing higher quality products to deliver enhanced value to customers.
Myth 6: DevOps engineer is the only means to a DevOps transformation
You can’t hire a DevOps engineer and claim you now have a DevOps team and culture. Similarly, you can’t hire a bunch of engineers, call it a DevOps team and be done with it.
More often than not, DevOps requires a complete organizational transformation with top-down motivation. This means that to successfully adopt DevOps, it’s up to leaders to lay the foundation for DevOps to thrive and aid with the cultural shift that accompanies it.
Undoubtedly, having a DevOps engineer will help facilitate the adoption of DevOps practices with their deep knowledge of DevOps and its tools and can serve as a link between teams to enhance collaboration. However, the fact of the matter is anyone can learn and then implement a DevOps methodology with the right training, tools and leadership.
DevOps engineers cannot single-handedly spearhead this transformation. The true secret to success when it comes to DevOps is how efficiently the different teams within an organization follow DevOps practices through top-down motivation as well as providing teams with the necessary resources in order to perform their job effectively.
Myth 7: DevOps only applies to development and operations teams
It’s natural to conclude that DevOps, which comes from a combination of development and operations, applies only to these two teams within an organization. We can even go so far as to say that this myth does have some truth to it.
While it’s true DevOps grew out of a need to enhance collaboration between these two teams, it has greatly evolved since then and is no longer confined to them.
Nowadays, DevOps encompasses teams from across the whole organization, which means that DevOps practices and principles can be applied and used as a way to empower all teams from engineering to sales and marketing. In other words, DevOps applies to each and every team or all stakeholders involved in the software development and delivery processes.
At the end of the day, DevOps is about cross-functional collaboration and working together towards common goals. In that sense, DevOps today can apply to the whole organization and not solely to development and operations teams. With the right training, any team within your organization can take up and successfully implement DevOps practices and reap their benefits.
DevOps can bring real value to organizations when properly implemented
There are many misconceptions about DevOps which makes sense given how popular it’s become but it’s important to be aware of these misconceptions to get the most out of the DevOps methodology.
It’s important to remember at the end that DevOps is not magic or a quick fix for all problems that come up. DevOps should be foremost people-focused but if you’re not willing to change your processes and undergo a cultural transformation in your entire organization then creating a DevOps team and calling it a day just won’t cut it.
DevOps is not only about collaboration and breaking down silos between teams but it’s also about providing these teams with the resources and foundation necessary to be able to successfully adopt DevOps practices in their day-to-day operations.
However, one thing that most can agree on is that DevOps can bring value to teams when implemented correctly. This will also depend on your own organization’s unique needs. What works for one organization may not work for another.
Make sure that you carefully assess your processes, teams and culture as a whole to understand whether it would make sense to take the plunge and adopt a DevOps methodology for your team and your products. Only then can the transformation truly begin.