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Cloud, DevOps tips for an IT organization to reach its full potential

IT teams everywhere are locking in budgets, laying plans for the new year, brewing strong pots of coffee and setting these 10 ideas into motion.

IT organizations handle diverse problems, puzzles and projects every day, but they don't have to do it alone.

Independent IT consultants, engineers and administrators share their cumulative decades of expertise on everything from virtualization and security to systems management and coding on SearchITOperations. Throughout 2016, they wrote IT and DevOps tips, guides to assessing IT organization strengths and weaknesses, tool and technology evaluations and more.

Bone up on DevOps tools, career skills, task management and IT planning with these top 10 tips, presented in no particular order, from 2016. They guide IT professionals away from wasted time and resources, giving them the ability to efficiently and quickly respond to business needs. Some topics are familiar to every IT admin -- yes, patching -- while others, such as networking containers, are brand new.

1. Scouting on the configuration management futures

Red Hat relies on Puppet source code for systems management and automation capabilities, but integrated Ansible into its product line. Now, Red Hat's users are evaluating the two configuration management tools to understand how and when to use each.

2. What to expect when you're containerizing

Containers and microservices give application developers freedom to break apart functionalities to scale independently. They give IT operations and support due cause for concern about efficiency and management. To run these distributed app deployments in production, IT shops need to rethink availability, networking and cluster management.

3. What is the plan for DevOps?

IT organizations miss the DevOps mark by simply adding extra meetings between developers and production, ruthlessly pushing new code releases or standing up a new automation tool suite in one area. To reap the benefits of DevOps, honestly assess the IT organization's strengths and weaknesses, and needs and goals.

4. It's time to turn infrastructure into code

Infrastructure as code is one of the formative DevOps ideas: manage the physical IT resources with a developer's mindset to increase flexibility without deviation, and cut time to provision. Here are the basics of programming infrastructure and of versioning and testing the code.

5. Automation help from your peers

The best DevOps tips combine mindset and technology. Adopt the collaborative, open mindset of DevOps by sharing scripts and utilities on GitHub. While primarily a code repository platform for developers, GitHub's also a great place to find IT automation ideas to adopt, contribute to or fork into something new.

How well do you know DevOps?

As DevOps tools gain a place in the IT landscape, IT admins should brush up on what they know about DevOps. Take this quiz to prove your knowledge of this rapidly expanding field.

6. A cloud DevOps tip for on-premises operators

Applications stay in owned data centers for various good, sound reasons. That shouldn't prevent IT operations from using the speed, flexibility and features of public cloud to support development and test those on-premises apps.

7. Become a DevOps engineer -- you're almost there

DevOps engineers come from development, automation, test, operations, infrastructure and platform backgrounds. To advance into a DevOps career, identify existing applicable skills to hone and map out the areas where you need to acquire hard and soft skills.

8. DevOps tips for the IT tool selection committee

There's no single end-to-end DevOps tool, and there's no one tool for any step in the DevOps deployment pipeline that's right for every organization. With this much choice putting together a DevOps tool set, follow some practical guidelines.

9. Turn the worst part of the job into the easiest

You can't avoid patching servers, but you can avoid stress, frustration and wasted time while doing it. These practical tips ensure that server-patch processes account for variability and unknowns, stay on schedule and actually protect the IT estate as intended.

10. Missteps and booby traps of hybrid IT

Hybrid infrastructure offers the best of both public and private IT worlds -- unless cloud costs run rampant, troubleshooting becomes a guessing game and security holes open up left and right. Preserve the value of hybrid IT by warding off these five common dangers that afflict organizations.

Next Steps

Looking for ways to adapt DevOps tips to suit your organization's industry? DevOps looks different in retail IT than it does in financial organizations, and still different in healthcare. See where the DevOps differences lie between 10 major markets, including ideas to fork from the early adopters and implement in your shop.

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