DevOps Team Models

This Medium article explores the dynamics of new team models for DevOps, defining a number of specific roles and how they interoperate, such as:

  • Developer/Engineer
  • Operations
  • Product Owner/Product Manager
  • Designer
  • Tester
  • Architect
  • Data scientist

In ‘Crafting the Cloud Native Organization‘ Coté of Pivotal summarizes the evolution of software IT teams, in terms of their team structures relevant to the job at hand:

“To massively simplify it, traditional IT departments are oriented around working on projects, where-as technology companies are oriented around working on products.”

The dual combination he describes is 1) the layered Platform approach of the Cloud paradigm and how this plays a key enabling role in 2) organizing IT delivery around a PLM approach – Product Lifecycle Management.

Research from the IT Process Institute benchmarked over 1,500 IT organizations and concluded that high-performing IT organizations utilizing DevOps were on average:

  • 5-7x times more productive than their non-high performing peers.
  • They were making 14x more changes, with one-half the change failure rate with 4x higher first fix rates, and 10x shorter Severity 1 outages times.
  • They had 4x fewer repeat audit findings,
  • they were 5x more likely to detect breaches by an automated internal control, and
  • had 8x better project due date performance!

Business Capability Team – From Silos to DevOps

DevOps also encompasses the organizational and team practices, referring to the fusion of previous distinct departmental functions of software development and IT operations, a distinction that often lead to the kinds of challenges that silos usually create. It sets out to break down the artificial boundaries that develop profusely in large, hierarchical organizations, and instead self-organize around a ‘delivery pipeline’ of the work required to deploy code faster and with fewer errors.

IT Revolution, one of the leading experts in the field, captures these challenges and describes the transformation to new models very effectively, citing the ‘Inverse Conway Manoeuvre’ as the technique for designing DevOps team flows.

Conway published revealing research in the 60’s that showed organizational performance is directly related to the hierarchical department structures that management choose to organize these teams. For example cost-centric functional approaches, such as grouping software development and IT operations into their own departments, results in local optimizations but long lead times overall, caused by the bottlenecks that arise through slow hand offs between them.

Agile DevOps teams have instead focused on the end-to-end process required to deliver new software and organized around these, implementing ‘Business Capability Teams’ – Multi-discipine teams that work together across the entire lifecycle. Martin Fowler closes the loop, describing how the approach goes hand in hand with the new microservices architecture, and Scott Prugh of AMC explores this transformation in detail in this Slidedeck.

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