DevOps Challenges

Jul 01, 2022

In this video we'll list the challenges of DevOps deployments. But despite all the really good qualities of DevOps, it's not without its own challenges. Nothing is a free lunch, right? It's not all sunshine and rainbows. So, let's go over some of the challenges associated with DevOps.

Throughout this course, we've talked about development processes and in particular, we've gone over some of the benefits of DevOps. But despite all the really good qualities of DevOps, it's not without its own challenges. Nothing is a free lunch, right? It's not all sunshine and rainbows. So, let's go over some of the challenges associated with DevOps. Now the first challenge teams will have when implementing DevOps is understanding development versus operations. Specifically, the old paradigm of separation needs to be dealt with. It's not that the Ops team is now simply integrated with the Dev team. That's wrong. DevOps requires all members of the team to be capable of both development and operations. The entire team, and each member of the team are responsible for all development and operations activities. New DevOps teams and really the organization in general, will also need to embrace the concept of continuous delivery.

Organizations that shift to DevOps tend to want to optimize their workflow, but not necessarily their release cadence. And while that's not the end of the world, it really undermines one of the biggest benefits of DevOps. So, it will be a challenge for the organization to embrace that change towards continuous delivery. Now, I've been doing CI/CD for over a decade and I still run into this problem with new clients. Now, another challenge that an organization can run into is simply a hesitation to change. And this is a very common challenge, especially in older organizations that have been doing things a certain way for a very long time. Changing from one strategy to another is always met with some hesitation but changing to a DevOps strategy flips a lot of things on their heads. So, the hesitation is significant and that's a big thing to overcome. DevOps also pushes organizations towards significant paradigm shifts in technology.

This will be different for every organization but many organizations that implement DevOps tend to see a shift from physical servers to cloud and from virtual machines to microservices and that foundational shift from legacy server-based software to cloud-based microservices impacts every layer of the organization and can be a big challenge for teams to deal with. The one trap that DevOps teams have a tendency to fall into is a disproportionate focus on tools. DevOps is highly optimized and efficient. The result is an inevitable shift towards automation, monitoring, metrics, and so on. However, there's no escaping the fact that a DevOps team is composed of technical people and technical people love tools. So, when DevOps teams are born, they tend to look for tools to solve all of their problems. And that can be a good thing but it can also be a distraction from the main goal, producing and deploying software. So, big challenge for DevOps teams, particularly new DevOps teams, is finding a balance between development and operations tools.

If you have a group of developers and you've added operations responsibility, they'll tend to focus on development problems and development tools with a hint of operations. Likewise, if you have an operations team that you've added development responsibility to, they'll tend to focus on operations problems at tools. So, you have to make sure that the balance is appropriate. Another challenge with DevOps is the implementation of an effective test automation strategy. Developers tend to focus on unit testing and operations. Folks tend to focus on acceptance testing, but there's tons of stuff in between. A good DevOps team needs to make sure that they're developing appropriate and useful tests. Now what a DevOps team builds tends to go straight to production without any teams between them. So, these tests need to be solid. Now some DevOps teams also have a challenge with the concept of ownership. In the past, there were two teams. So, when a problem comes up, ownership of that problem was a bit fuzzy and often the issue would be directed at a single person to resolve.

But with proper DevOps, the entire team owns the process, no individual. Effective DevOps requires that everyone in the team is capable of handling any task. The point of DevOps is to eliminate silos, not create different ones. Another challenge for new DevOps teams will be understanding, generating, and acting on metrics. A good DevOps team will need to understand the sort of metrics they'll need to gauge the health of their product once it's deployed. Then, they'll need to actually develop the necessary code or implement the necessary tools to produce those metrics. Then, depending on the metrics that get spit out, the team needs to perform the appropriate action in response. New DevOps teams will likely need a bunch of runtime and experience before they can figure out what those metrics need to be and what sorts of actions they'll need to take.

And one last challenge for DevOps teams is a transition towards continuous learning. And that's a big one. A developer is a developer and an operations person is an operations person. But DevOps is both. So, there's now a need to make sure that each member of the team is well-versed and up to speed on both developer and operations improvements and technology shifts. So, for example, if a developer gets thrown into DevOps and they think they'll just do the minimum operations work that they're currently familiar with, then that's a recipe for disaster. Likewise, if an Ops person thinks that they can limp by on development tasks based on what they learned from stack overflow, there's also going to be some problems there too.