The global app economy is estimated to reach $6.3 trillion by 2021, with a user base expected to rise to almost every person on the planet. As a result, organizations are rethinking the way they build products or services to meet today’s always-on culture.

To address this, the concept of DevOps has emerged over the last few years as a way to help accelerate the building, testing and deployment of applications. However, many organizations are beginning to realize that putting this buzzword into actionable practice is easier said than done.

Let’s explore some common challenges that are holding today’s organizations back from putting their best foot forward when it comes to their DevOps strategies, as well as some tips for success.

First, organizations must remember that a DevOps strategy is less about the tools and more about the company’s culture.

There are a number of factors that can stifle even the best DevOps intentions -- and forgetting to obtain buy-in and commitment from your entire IT, ops and even executive teams is chief among them. DevOps and operations teams are under increasing pressure to solve complex business problems in the most quick, efficient and cost-effective manner -- but this is a near impossible feat for an organization that is not completely unified in their mission.

A well-known bank, for example, fumbled the DevOps process related to the data transformation of its century-old business, an effort involving 1000 applications across the personal and corporate banking divisions and sales. Unfortunately for the team leading the initiative, differing internal agendas, a rigid IT system, and neglect in considering ramifications for meeting regulatory compliance resulted in a failed project.

In this case, breaking down silos and integrating teams is a first, critical step to DevOps success and would have avoided these issues.

A Breakdown in Database Development

A second common mis-step that often holds DevOps teams back from success is lack of consideration of the database behind an application. If and when an application update requires a change to the database, the DevOps process often breaks down, as databases tend to be developed and managed differently due to their complex and sensitive nature.

The risks associated with making changes to “mission critical” databases can also be high, which usually means release cycles are typically much longer than they are for application changes. Database development also frequently lacks code testing and reviews, source code controls, and the ability to integrate with existing build automation processes -- all critical factors in preventing errors that impact production systems.

With the adoption of the right tooling, IT teams can break down the common barriers associated with deploying database changes and automate those adjustments within existing DevOps continuous integration-and-delivery processes. However, this also requires database administrators (DBAs) to have a seat at the DevOps table.

DevOps teams should bring their DBAs in on any and all DevOps strategies and processes. This will eliminate unnecessary bottlenecks and ensure the best possible solutions are being put forward.

Taking The DevOps Driver Seat

As organizations build out their DevOps strategies, here are five additional key considerations and tips for ensuring your business remains agile and continues to thrive in the digital era:

  • Skill-up: Organizations must ensure that anyone involved in managing DevOps projects have people on their team who are trained in design, development, QA, testing, operations and other processes and able to collaborate and pass their knowledge onto others within the organization.
  • Prioritize performance testing: With subscription-based cloud services, performance testing should be top-of-mind so organizations don’t find themselves unnecessarily using more cloud resources than they need.
  • Don’t over-commit: Start slowly when it comes to implementing DevOps across the organization. Implement DevOps practices and supporting technologies on a relatively low-risk or pilot project first and, and from there, learn and apply best practices.
  • Integrate database development: Organizations must integrate database development into the fabric of any DevOps plans, otherwise, this will become a significant bottleneck that could potentially delay application delivery.
  • Avoid vendor lock-in: Don’t lock the organization into one cloud or database vendor. To ensure DevOps success, organizations should be as flexible as possible in their choice of tools, as changes to the platforms may be needed in the future. To meet this need, organizations should consider the use of containers for application deployment.

The adoption of DevOps strategies will only accelerate in the coming years. The increasing digital demands in the world in which we live today means that businesses can’t afford to have delayed releases, application downtime, or friction across teams.

Get the full team on board and establish a DevOps-centric culture that takes database management into consideration at the onset of any initiative. By keeping the above tips in mind, companies can set themselves up for DevOps success.

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