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The DevOps roadmap for large organizations: Free chapter

DevOps advice often spotlights unicorns and small companies on the bleeding edge. Gary Gruver's third book is for large organizations that need a starting point.

How does a large-scale organization navigate a DevOps roadmap?

DevOps means something different to every organization that uses or considers the methodology. Concrete best practices are rare, because every organization has different challenges. A small organization utilizes a much different set of practices than a large one, even if they agree on the general DevOps concept.

Determining where to start is the biggest hurdle for many large organizations, said Gary Gruver, president at Gruver Consulting LLC with almost 30 years of experience in the IT industry. Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise, Gruver's third book, uses the metaphor of blind men assessing an elephant to address the approach to DevOps.

Gary GruverGary Gruver

"There are a lot of commonalities across different companies, but there are also uniquenesses that [drive] prioritizing different things," he said. Large workhorse companies that must coordinate work across large groups shouldn't just try to emulate unicorns.

The standard advice is re-architect to create loosely coupled architectures that enable small teams to adopt DevOps in large organizations -- but rearchitecting an existing portfolio of applications and infrastructure is one of the hardest things to do, and it takes years, Gruver said. Large companies can undertake these projects, but there are other ways to reap benefits from DevOps.

Large companies should use DevOps practices to address significant inefficiencies of IT operations because there's a much greater opportunity for improvement, Gruver said. A group of six people can be somewhat inefficient, but a thousand staffers coordinated between the IT, app and project management teams generates many more opportunities for miscommunication, drawn-out handoffs and other problems.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter One, DevOps and the Deployment Pipeline:

Most large organizations don't have that context as they start their DevOps journey. They have different people in different roles who have gone to different conferences to learn about DevOps from presentations by companies with different levels of complexity and different problems and have come back with different views of what DevOps means for them, like when the five blind men describe the elephant. Each stakeholder gives a very accurate description of their section of the DevOps elephant, but the listener never gets a very good macro view of DevOps. So, when they go to create their own elephant, nobody can agree on where to start, and they frequently want to implement ideas that worked well for small teams, but are not designed for complex organizations that require coordinating the work of hundreds of people.

Not just the big guys

Small organizations aren't off the hook when it comes to DevOps readiness. Many still manually configure servers, which opens a lot of opportunity for error. As small organizations move to the cloud, however, most adopt a DevOps roadmap quite efficiently and make it work.

Large organizations such as airlines and manufacturers deal with large-scale legacy infrastructures that are entrenched and resistant to change. To successfully navigate a DevOps roadmap, a lot more people must become involved in software development and management, which necessarily means many of them will be new to it. The book aims to help DevOps leaders fill in those spaces and make large-scale DevOps adoption a reality.

As stated in Chapter One, DevOps and the Deployment Pipeline:

You already have in place something that you are using to get code through your organization from idea to production, which is your DP [deployment pipeline]. But documenting that so everyone has a common view and optimizing it based on using value stream mapping is a key tool in this process that helps to align the organization. The DP defines and documents the flow of code through the system, and value stream mapping the DP helps to identify bottlenecks and waste and other inefficiencies that can be addressed using DevOps techniques. Improving it will require a lot of organizational change management, but the DP will help everyone understand what processes are being changed at any one time and how they should start working differently.

Download Chapters One through Three here.

Editor's note: This excerpt is from Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise, authored by Gary Gruver, self-published with BookBaby, October 27, 2016, ISBN: 978-1483583587, available here.

Next Steps

Start value stream mapping at your org

Choose your DevOps plan of attack

Getting lost on your DevOps roadmap

Large orgs speak up on DevOps basics

This was last published in February 2017

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