Maturing devops practices: what you don’t yet know

Why is it so hard for organizations to succeed in the journey to devops?

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Striving to be an agile shop that is successful in devops isn’t a new goal for most organizations. All teams want to deliver better apps faster. Even if this isn’t a new objective, however, and teams feel like, in theory, they know what it takes to move to continuous delivery, there are many considerations—including some that are unknown.

What does devops mean?

Quoting Donovan Brown from Microsoft, one of my colleagues who contributed a chapter to my latest book, The Digital Quality Handbook: “Devops is a union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users.” This is true for every type of software development, including mobile.

The problems that arise when trying to implement the above, especially in the mobile space, are related to automating the entire workflow—from development through testing—until the app is in production (i.e., at the app store).

Why is it so hard for organizations to succeed in the journey to devops?

  1. Cross team collaboration, shared tools, and practices are keys to success. However, achieving these is difficult for many teams. Of the three elements, shared tooling across dev, test and ops activities is frequently the most acute.
  2. Appropriate skills within the feature team often undermines achieving a maximum level of process automation. Some flows can be automated—standing up and tearing down required environments—while other flows that require advanced capabilities, such as sensors or advanced camera features (check scanning, for example), cannot; when there are gaps, the entire process gets stuck and goes out of sync.
  3. Test automation robustness and coverage is a constant challenge for the most mature organization.

The devops Uunknowns

While the above challenges to devops are well known and painful to many organizations that are beginning their devops journey (or are about to do so), there are a few things that are yet to be discovered by most.

Uncontrolled test suite growth for mobile app releases is becoming a big challenge

There is a constant growth in the size of tests, given the rising number of features. Teams should have the ability to gain insight into what is relevant to cover and what is obsolete, as well as on which mobile platforms tests ought to be still executed.

Automating next generation digital interfaces into the mobile test automation suite slows down release cycles

Such trends will increase manual testing activities and, therefore,will pull back current test automation progress due to lack of ability to automate new engagement methods. Capabilities like FaceID, advanced sensors, augmented reality, and advanced location based services are rapidly entering the app market.

Continuous changes in the devops tool stack ecosystem

The open source landscape and commercial market are undergoing constant changes. Teams need to be aware of these changes and find ways to mature their existing tools in ways that address the pains they face.

Machine learning and AI as devops enablers

Many vendors, as well as organizations, are already considering machine learning and AI tools to optimize activities throughout the devops pipeline. Now is the time to assess the benefits they deliver today as well as the value such tools can bring to your organization as these tools mature.

Bottom line

There is clearly no other way to succeed in devops than to maximize the automation of your entire release processes, from coding through production. At the heart of the maturity lies a continuous improvement mindset within the organization. Such a mindset should build, over time, a foundation of tools that fit the processes and people with their respective skillsets. The market doesn’t stand still; it continues to innovate around machine learning, AI, and software delivery automation capabilities. It is highly recommended to connect with communities such as Dzone, Stack Overflow, Medium, and Perfecto to follow trends and tools—and adopt what best fits your business goals—to climb the devops maturity ladder.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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