The conventional way of developing and managing software across development organizations has changed significantly. As a result, building, testing, and deploying software is increasingly flexible. One of these tenets is DevOps.
DevOps is a coalescence of practices, philosophies, and approaches to software development, management, and operations. DevOps uses components alongside designed tools to increase the organization's pace of delivering applications and services. This encourages collaboration and communication across teams.
First coined in the early 2010s, DevOps describes the growing need to unite an organization’s development and operations teams to enhance software speed, quality, reliability, and release time. With these qualities, organizations can serve their customers effectively and increase their competitive advantage.
While widely used and highly successful in many applications, DevOps has its challenges. Establishing a firm DevOps infrastructure is essential for DevOps teams to operate successfully and efficiently. However, there are several areas where bottlenecks and challenges emerge. This article explores some key challenges organizations face when establishing a DevOps infrastructure.
Bottlenecks in DevOps Infrastructure (and How to Avoid Them)
To create an effective DevOps infrastructure, you must quickly identify and remediate bottlenecks. DevOps infrastructure refers to systems and tools that support software applications’ development and operation. These develop, test, deploy, and observe software applications in the DevOps environment.
This section highlights the main bottlenecks you may encounter in DevOps infrastructure, and how to overcome them.
1. Unchecked Technical Debt
During bug fixes, teams may maintain outdated legacy systems or use the wrong tools. Technical debt accumulates as a result.
First, using outdated systems increases the complexity and reduces the agility of your infrastructure. This makes infrastructure difficult to maintain over time. Unaddressed technical debt can also create unreliable systems prone to outages, failures, and backlogs — often a result of improper tooling.
Such technical debt can impact your application and software performance. This causes customer frustration and, potentially, loss of business.
Maintaining an awareness of and taking steps to combat growing technical debt is essential for allowing DevOps infrastructure space to grow and optimize.
DevOps teams must liaise with the product leads to ensure that the systems mitigating technical debt are up-to-date, running the latest versions, and compatible with the existing system. The development and operation teams should also be consistent with the regular code reviews and refactoring when using these tools to prevent error accumulation.
2. Inefficient Automation
Automation allows organizations to optimize and streamline their development and operation processes. Inefficient automation can act as a bottleneck in the DevOps infrastructure by slowing down or obstructing the flow of work.
Automation issues can appear in several ways:
Complex automation processes require a lot of manual intervention or are difficult to understand and maintain. These slow the workflow, causing delays in delivering new features or updates to customers.
A lack of standardization in automation can lead to inconsistency and errors, which can cause delays and disruptions.
Poorly designed automation processes can be challenging to scale and maintain. This leads to increased downtime and decreased efficiency.
A lack of visibility or transparency in how automation processes function make it challenging to identify and fix problems as they arise. This leads to delays and disruptions.
Automation is at the core of DevOps. DevOps teams should continuously refine processes by identifying new opportunities for automation, refining existing automation strategies, and adopting new methods for automating complex tasks.
It’s crucial to carefully design and implement automation processes that are efficient, standardized, scalable, and transparent. This ensures that automation benefits the DevOps infrastructure without bottlenecks.
3. Failure to Cultivate DevOps Culture
Without a strong DevOps culture, an organization may struggle to fully realize the benefits of a DevOps approach:
Siloed teams lead to a lack of collaboration and communication. This makes it difficult to identify and resolve issues quickly, leading to delays and disruptions.
Limited buy-in from all teams and individuals within an organization. This presents challenges when you try to implement changes or adopt new tools and technologies.
Lack of continuous improvement without a DevOps culture. Unaddressed problems may lead to inefficiencies and disruptions.
It's critical to cultivate a strong DevOps culture that promotes collaboration, communication, and continuous improvement. This ensures that the DevOps infrastructure can operate effectively and efficiently.
4. Not Accounting for Scale
Failing to account for scale can lead to problems when the volume of work or users increases. For example, an organization without properly designed automation processes or infrastructure to handle a large volume of requests will experience delays and disruptions.
Insufficient resources such as servers or bandwidth when failing to plan for increased demand or usage. This results in performance issues or outages.
Limited scalability makes it difficult to handle increased demand or usage. An organization needs tools or processes designed to scale to avoid delays and disruptions in delivering new features or updates.
Lack of monitoring and capacity planning complicates identifying when an organization's infrastructure is approaching its limits. This leads to unexpected outages or performance issues.
Remediate these issues by creating DevOps infrastructure with a forward-thinking approach. Accounting for the future creates modular processes that can grow with the project and the organization’s need to scale up. For example, you can plan for the necessary resources, design for scalability, and implement monitoring and capacity planning. This ensures that the infrastructure can handle increased demand or usage.
5. Inability to Fail Fast
“Failing fast” is an important aspect of a DevOps culture. It refers to identifying, addressing, and resolving problems in the early development stages before they leak to production and cause bigger issues. It allows organizations to minimize the impact of failures on customers and the business.
However, if an organization can't fail fast, it can act as a bottleneck in the DevOps infrastructure:
Long lead times for the delivery of new features or updates result when you cannot identify and fix problems quickly. Overall efficiency also decreases.
Lack of agility and competitiveness emerge when organizations struggle to respond to changing customer needs or market conditions.
Decreased customer satisfaction arises if organizations don’t address disruptions or other problems quickly.
Effective DevOps is an iterative process. DevOps teams should fail fast and learn quickly from different experiments and projects, maintaining a high velocity for testing new ideas and implementing new solutions. This includes implementing processes and tools that quickly identify and resolve problems and focus on continuous learning and improvement.
Streamline Building Your DevOps Infrastructure
A well-designed DevOps infrastructure offers an array of benefits to the organization in software release speed and delivery. However, the several bottlenecks mentioned in this article clog the process.
Organizations can remedy these issues by adopting inclusive best practices that embrace collaboration and communication across software development and operations teams. These best practices include understanding the root cause of the problem, automating processes effectively, and scaling out if a lack of resources causes the bottleneck.
The best approach for addressing DevOps bottlenecks depends on the specific circumstances and resources available. It may involve implementing a combination of these strategies or other approaches as needed.
To determine if your DevOps infrastructure implementation is successful, track key metrics such as deployment frequency, lead time for changes, and mean time to recovery (MTTR). If these metrics improve over time, your DevOps infrastructure will likely succeed. You can also consider other factors, such as the level of collaboration between development and operations teams, release speed and quality, and overall user satisfaction.