There was a time in the not too distant past when IT Leaders said, “Oh Yes, we have the toolset for that” in response to questions around automated testing or even performance and security testing. Considering the context of the question and the response and the times those were, they were not wrong – point being, the goal then was to automate and execute a few crucial tests before “Go Time”. All was well, the point being it was okay to be that way because the customers did not have as many choices in applications and perhaps the expectations and demand were not as high. How times have changed in this short span! Today, the demand is significantly higher, incremental releases, agile and lean teams; So, with an ever-growing appetite to shrink the release frequencies, will a “I have a tool for that” mindset take for where you need to be?
In a recent conversation regarding Continuous Delivery (CD) and DevOps with a Director responsible for those at a large enterprise, I asked, “How far down the path are you?” His response to the question was something to the order of We have all the tools needed. The Dev team is equipped, the Ops team works on environments – in a matter of days (they used to take weeks), we automate our regression suite (N-2), so we are now able to release frequently. When I probed further, “How do the releases go” I got the answer I was hoping I wouldn’t have to hear; We still (With all the DevOps tools in place) run into issues with Deployments and the nightmares of release day are now more frequent.
To me, this thought process is fundamentally wrong for 2 reasons;
- There is no one stop tool for DevOps and CD
- CD and DevOps is NOT a tool set; CD and DevOps is NOT a team!
To get to Continuous Delivery, some of the more essential changes to be made are around people – Collaboration, skillset, perfect hand-offs; Ecosystem – Top Down drive for Continuous Delivery, Adoption of technology, Elastic Environments, Stronger Pre-Prod and automation.
But the most important piece of puzzle for an enterprise aspiring for Continuous Delivery is a tweak to the Process – An Agile and Lean process that empowers teams and enables them to collaborate with mesmerizing harmony like an Orchestra is the key to succeed. It has to be a culture that promotes One Team – Uniform process. A mere shift left in process alone will not cut it any more. Organizations need to adopt more of a Trend-Shift Approach™. Shift Left, with focus on the right (where production and the most important members of the value chain stand – a.k.a. the customer) and an automated feedback loop to the left! A process that eliminates the wait times in the cycle and enables automation.
To Summarize, what an Enterprise really needs if they aspire to get to Continuous Delivery is much beyond a Toolset. It is like Orchestration – You need the tools but more importantly, an Orchestration engine that can control / manage the tools and several basic philosophy and culture tweaks to be successful.