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At DOES 2016, important lessons from the DevOps journey

DevOps is a long method of small changes in culture and process. At DOES 2016, experts who are well along their way offer their best tips. Some may surprise you.

SAN FRANCISCO -- DevOps may be a destination, but it's also a journey -- and in many cases, it's a long journey.

At the DevOps Enterprise Summit, those who've been on the DevOps journey shared their best advice.

Here are some key DevOps takeaways.

Make your code social

Heather Mickman, senior director of technology services at Target, is three-plus years into a DevOps journey. Social coding represented a big change for the company, she said. "It's about making your work visible and transparent, including pull requests and all changes," she explained. The end result has been "significantly higher quality" in Target's code.

Communication and collaboration

Even though it's tempting to think tools are the big driver on a DevOps journey, it's actually communication and collaboration. Hewlett Packard Enterprise surveyed companies about where they were in the DevOps journey and compared that information to how successful they believed they were, said John Jeremiah, digital research team leader at HPE. Those who said they were "experimenting" with DevOps -- about 10% -- also said they felt they were the most successful with DevOps and that was because they were focused on communication and collaboration, not tools, Jeremiah said.

Reach out to the community

Once Target was starting to get the hang of DevOps, Mickman said her group started to reach out to the local tech community through Meetups and other events. This not only helped spread the word about DevOps, but it had the unexpected benefit of making it easier for Mickman to hire. "Target is now known as a great place to do technology work, and that's made my job a lot easier."

Internal PR also pays off

Once a month, HPE gives different groups in the company a chance to share where they are on the DevOps journey and how they got there. This internal sharing has helped create momentum for DevOps, and "even if it's 2 a.m. Asia-Pacific time, people are still dialing in," said Ashish Kuthiala, senior director, marketing and strategy for DevOps at HPE.

At Verizon, Chivas Nambiar, director of DevOps and public cloud platform engineer, has also used word-of-mouth bragging to get the job done. "We took the business benefit we were able to derive and kept publicizing it and pushing our teams to show it off," he explained. "That created an 'If they can do it, why can't I?' environment."

All work and no play

Continuous learning is a key part of DevOps, but Mickman noted how hard it can be to find the time to make that happen. Target has implemented "Make Time," where developers and anyone else interested can have dedicated time to explore new tools and play with new ideas and options. She blocks it off on her own calendar and strongly suggests other companies do the same.

A platform for creativity

Verizon's Nambiar said he wants his developers to be able to get creative when the mood strikes them, so as the company was pulling together a universal development platform, he tried to keep that in mind. "You don't want them coming to you with an idea in mind and you have to tell them to wait until they have the platform," he said.

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