July 9, 2021
Disadvantages Of Using DevOps
When looking into implementing DevOps into your organization, it’s just as important to consider the disadvantages of implementing DevOps as it is the benefits. The decision to implement DevOps cannot be taken lightly. When contemplating a switch to DevOps, one of the first steps is to have a thorough understanding of the challenges that need to be overcome.
The first challenge your organization will encounter is a lack of thorough understanding of the key DevOps advantages and disadvantages. It is vital to understand not just the benefits but also the disadvantages of using DevOps.There is help though–DevOps can offer powerful tools that enable your organization to maximize the way you operate.
Many definitions of DevOps have emerged, and it is important that an organization reach an agreement as to what their definition will be. This agreement is informed by several things that DevOps is often thought to be but is not.
It’s not just a methodology. DevOps goes well beyond the requirements of a new methodology to include organizational, cultural, procedural, and other changes which must be carefully considered.
- Is DevOps right for just your development and operational teams, or for your entire organization?
- Is your organization ready for such a broad change?
- Is the reasoning driving the decision of great value to you?
- Who will benefit the most?
- Who will struggle the most to achieve the necessary changes?
Furthermore, cost and funding need to be considered before making a switch to DevOps. Technology investments in the automation tools required for DevOps is costly and will take a great deal of time to identify and implement. These costs need to be established to ensure that the initiative doesn’t falter because of a lack of funds, or worse, cause the company to stumble or even fail. There is also a bad tendency to implement a variety of different “best-of-breed” tools with little or no consideration for how well they interoperate.
The pain of changing tools midstream has taught many the value of establishing a “DevOps toolchain” that does incorporate high integration and interoperability. Establishing this toolchain is a good way to ensure that your company not only fully understands what is going to be required of them to make the transition but also to decide if the pains of making the transition will be worth it in the long run.
Before the beginning of your DevOps implementation project you’ll want to map out standards within your organization and optimize workflows. In addition to there not being one globally accepted definition of DevOps, there is also no standard set of DevOps processes and procedures. Everyone’s roles will need to be redefined. New processes and new procedures will need to be developed, deployed, and training provided. Communicating all of these changes across your entire organization is essential in ensuring that your DevOps initiative will be worthwhile and successful.
At all times remember that imperfect or half-baked DevOps can be far worse than no DevOps at all.
DevOps Requires Culture Change
It’s commonly observed that you cannot just change a company’s culture on command. You can influence the culture, shift it, and while it can evolve over time, it’s nearly impossible to just instruct all employees to simply change the way they think and act about specific things. The culture of any organization starts at the top of the leadership hierarchy and trickles down throughout, filling every empty space. It is essential that you get buy-in from the top management down to everyone in the pipeline. In order to do this, all involved need to understand the advantages the shift is going to have on the organization and on the team members.
It’s easy to think that the only people impacted by the implementation of DevOps are the developers who write code and the operators who run that code on the network for the users. But those teams do not exist in a vacuum. The code they write and run serves other members of the group in departments throughout the enterprise. The process is dependent upon those users for feedback on how the product can be improved to make it more user friendly or how processes can be sped up or automated. Since the feedback of everyone is a crucial step in the continuous improvement process within DevOps, everyone must be ready to absorb the new culture or else the initiative will falter.
Beyond the silos of information that DevOps may break down and unify are silos of people stuck in their own processes and ways of managing information. Taking the time to show these individuals how DevOps will positively impact them will go a long way to ensure that the initiative will be successful.
For any culture-impacting change to successfully occur there must be “buy-in” at the top of the organization. For DevOps initiatives to be successful “buy-in” from everyone is required. This kind of all-encompassing whole-organization culture-change can be very disruptive to even the most well-developed companies. That can easily become an overwhelming disadvantage.
DevOps May Not Solve Your Problem
If your organization only requires software upgrades occasionally, and the speed at which they arrive is not mission-critical, you may have no need to stress your operations to implement DevOps.
There may be less expensive ways to achieve the same results. Good DevOps experts are in big demand and can be very expensive. The automation and other software tools they require, and other operational costs add up quickly to a very expensive initiative. A half-baked, insufficiently-funded DevOps “effort” will likely leave you worse off than when you began. In other words, if you’re going to transition to DevOps, you must be prepared to “do” it right.
The Top DevOps Disadvantages
The challenges and potential disadvantages of DevOps implementation generally occur within four categories:
Traditional developers worked hard to become proficient with the “full-stack” of protocols and procedures required to develop software. DevOps breaks those multidisciplinary tasks down, assigning each one to dedicated specialists. Over time it will become difficult for those full-stack experts to leverage their many skill sets. At the same time, the organization may find that it has hired and is managing a greater number of people, with multiple people assigned to different individual tasks that were previously all handled by one.
Also, while the concept of constant improvement through rapid iteration of upgrades sounds fantastic, many users find it difficult to keep up with and start taking advantage of new features as they emerge. Focusing more on delivering working software than on documentation is preferred by both DevOps and its foundational Agile roots, but it may become more difficult for developers and operators to keep track of their advances as well.
The entire organization is involved in any DevOps initiative, and the adoption curve may be filled with dramatic ups and downs.
One important way to mitigate this potential downside is to identify a system to track everything, including every task and its outcome, and to facilitate rapid feedback between users, operators, and developers as early in the project as possible.
One of the characteristics of processes introduced in a DevOps initiative is the sheer speed with which feedback is requested and responding changes are made. While this is often seen as one of the advantages of DevOps, if not properly managed it can become one of the disadvantages of DevOps. This often eliminates all opportunity to “carefully consider” suggested changes as everyone could do before. It will take time for users to adjust to this change in velocity.
Procedurally, the organization will need to be more fault-tolerant at least in the early going. Mistakes must be made and observed to stimulate rapid learning and resolution. This will be uncomfortable to some.
Testing cannot become a casualty of DevOps processes. Instead, faster methodologies must be adopted to fulfill the objectives of rapid iteration and constant improvement. This usually turns into automation of many testing processes which should result in different teams being able to make needed changes rapidly.
There’s a tendency for people to say DevOps and think automation. DevOps is not just automation, though automation enables evaluation and analysis that leads to improvement quickly enough to satisfy the velocity needs of every DevOps process. Indeed the most important segments of the DevOps lifecycle to automate are the feedback loop back from users to developers and quality assurance testing. And while this automation can be a good thing to ensure that the pace of operations can keep up with the DevOps continuous feedback cycle, it can have unintended consequences if the automation is not set up properly and monitored.
Speed and Security
Speed and security don’t necessarily get along with each other very well. It is critical to the success of your DevOps initiative that you carefully consider a separate plan for security at every stage of your DevOps workflow. Any chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so it is critical to assure that the security of your DevOps processes is consistently strong across the workflow chain. Rapid development can lead to severe security shortfalls if there is not a separate plan of action to ensure that speed is not outpacing the security systems designed to protect the products.
Security teams traditionally begin by evaluating the design of a system to determine weak points, choke points, bottlenecks, and other areas of vulnerability. Remember that DevOps inherited from Agile the goal of achieving a minimum viable product (MVP) as quickly as possible, and then preferring iterative improvements of working software over documentation. As such, there is often no formal design and therefore no design documents for anyone to evaluate and analyze. The security team must then depend upon the advice of the developers and the operations people. This promotes much better teamwork but challenges the achievement of sufficient security from the start.
If developers and operations people do not establish clear lines of communication and transparency from the start, the security of the software might suffer, leading to crippling setbacks and can be a major disadvantage of DevOps if the developers, operations people, and security team are not up to the task.
Because of this, and because neither developers nor operators are necessarily security experts, we have seen DevOps quickly evolving to become DevSecOps.
Turn the Disadvantages of Using DevOps into Insights
One of the main goals of DevOps is to be first to market with a new idea or feature. This is where DevOps is able to greatly enhance the success of an organization. This requires maximizing efficiency and eliminating any waste, process delays, or unnecessary costs. The desire is to fail-fast-fail-early and resolve everything as quickly as possible.
Our final daunting challenge is the breaking down of silos. Certainly, the amalgamation of silos of data, but also silos of personnel in various teams, each with their own standards and process preferences. It is far easier to bring together data than it is to bring together people.
Forewarned is forearmed.
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