How to Scale DevOps: 5 Keys to Success

DevOps is one of the core pillars of any organization. As the company grows, its processes also scale to absorb the new growth. Scaling DevOps is inevitable for any organization's growth. You cannot scale consistently if your DevOps processes involve a lot of manual steps and take much time to deliver new projects. A scalable DevOps means the system can expand automatically during a high workload and shrink back when the needs are reduced to normal. A successfully scaled DevOps promotes mutual collaboration among teams, reduced bottlenecks in deliveries, faster feedback cycles, and resilient product updates. There is no single recipe to scale DevOps, as the needs of every company vary. However, we have managed to identify some steps which can ensure an efficient scaling of your existing DevOps processes. Let's go through all five steps one by one. 

Morgan Perry

Morgan Perry

December 20, 2022 · 6 min read
How to Scale DevOps: 5 Keys to Success - Qovery
Written byMorgan Perry

Morgan Perry

CRO and co-founder of Qovery. Morgan is a Tech entrepreneur with 7+ years of experience in the SaaS industry.

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DevOpsPlatform Engineering

1. Skills and Culture

Your teams should be equipped with the right skills, which can only be achieved through proper training. Training will not only enhance the team's technical skills but will also break down the knowledge, linguistic, and cultural barriers between different cross-functional team members. No team should work inside a silo; instead, all teams should collaborate to share knowledge and skills. 

It is often a challenge in DevOps-intensive organizations that many tasks overlap the operations and development teams. If there is a lack of mutual collaboration, it is quite possible to miss a task merely because the operations team expected the development team to take it and vice versa. The culture should ensure that every team is clear about the boundaries of its tasks. That is possible only through a culture of mutual support and collaboration. 

Another goal of enhancing skills is to have a DevOps culture in your company. You need to keep the team updated with trending skills for implementation and keep improving their skills. When employees can take advantage of the latest tools and techniques, they will be more autonomous in their roles and can efficiently meet the product's technical challenges. 

There is one way to quickly evaluate if the DevOps culture is being adopted in your organization or not. If some employees are still being termed as "DevOps" guys, then you still need to work on the DevOps culture. A successfully adopted DevOps culture means the team members no longer describe themselves as "developers" or "operations" team but instead see the two integrally connected work streams. 

2. Automate

The key to scaling DevOps is automation and more automation. By adopting automating tools, teams can quickly achieve their goals. Some examples of DevOps automation include:

  • Automating the infrastructure provisioning and de-provisioning 
  • Automation testing integrated with your CI/CD pipelines
  • Automating workflows
  • Automating your deployment environment, including configuration
  • Automating the product feedback management (e.g., PR testing and merging etc. )
  • Automating the security checkpoints

Take an example of a new application to be delivered through automated processes. That will include installing operating systems, provisioning underlying hardware components, configuring servers, and ensuring smooth communication between applications in an automated manner. 

Automation ensures that the development process is easier to audit, safeguard, improve, and comprehend. Modern tools are available for every stage of the SDLC. Whether it is code packaging, version control management, compiling build, testing, configuration management, or monitoring, you can automate each and every process. 

Automation does not just mean that more team members can work simultaneously. It also applies to all the components involved in the building, distributing, testing, integration, and deployment of the software. A good checkpoint is that automation should allow all the DevOps components to be scaled horizontally without any manual intervention. 

The results of automation will be increased productivity, refined product, fast releases, and a stable application. 

3. Establish Small Platform Teams

In the initial scaling stage, you can rely on third-party tools and libraries, but that solution needs to be more scalable. If you are a growing entrepreneur, quickly going from a few hundred to a few thousand, then you will need to establish small platform teams. Small because it is easier to manage and monitor small teams. Agile development also advocated small teams instead of large teams. The teams should be dedicated to platform management and should not be doing anything else in parallel. 

Platform management is a crucial aspect of the whole DevOps process. Teams should focus on building a platform that allows developers and other team members to automate their tasks. One example is the self-service portals for developers. The self-service portal will enable developers to provision and manages cloud infrastructure without involving the operations team. Similarly, the platform can facilitate the deployment environments' automation.

See our posts on Preview Environments for details. 

The concept of small teams should be similar to what Agile advocates as incremental and iterative. That means starting with building (a platform) small but valuable. Build it in increments instead of doing one mega release after a few months. Incorporate the feedback along the way instead of doing it after a long time. The resulting platform will be refined along the way and will also portray the needs of different stakeholders. 

If you can quickly deploy a new and complex cloud-native application, then your platform teams are working in the right direction. 

4. Implement Security through DevOps

When scaling DevOps, security is a crucial element, among others. Security must be applied to:

  • Infrastructure
  • Processes
  • Application components
  • Data (whether storage data or traveling data)
  • Configuration
  • Workflow

Security should be incorporated into all the DevOps processes from the beginning, i.e., from the inception phase to the completion phase and even in the maintenance phase. When you are automating all the other processes, security should be automated in a similar manner too. Examples include automatic scanning of different stages in the CI/CD pipeline, using Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools for security scanning, applying the principle of least privilege, etc. All the security checkpoints should be communicated clearly to the teams. Tighter cycles of code review need to be implemented as well. 

Compliance also goes hand to hand with security. Whether it is SOC2 or Hippa compliance, your workflow and the platform should be able to support the compliance trends in the industry. 

5. Choose the tools for scaling DevOps

After the teams are clear about what to do and how to do it, the next step is to choose the right tools for the job. You need to choose low-noise and high-signal tools. Before you finalize your tools, you need to establish the metrics to measure the success of your processes so that you can evaluate the selection of tools based on these metrics. After using the tools for a while, you would like to evaluate which tools are helping the goals and which ones need to be replaced. Many factors are involved in selecting the right tools, including automation, cost reduction, user-friendliness, etc. Your business needs and the type of your customers will also drive the selection of tools. If, for example, your customers are mostly targeting SOC compliance, then you would focus on the tools which secure the infrastructure. Similarly, if your customers' most pressing concern is application security, then you would focus on the tools for application vulnerabilities, code scanning, etc. 

As we discussed the DevOps culture in the beginning, the tools should not be limited to certain individuals in the company. Anyone willing to learn new tools should be encouraged to do so. That will break the silo in which traditional teams work. 

Conclusion

Qovery's flagship product can help you scale your DevOps needs without going through the complexity of the processes. It empowers your teams with a self-service platform that you can use to automate your DevOps processes. Whether it is environment provisioning, infrastructure provisioning, or Kubernetes cluster management, Qovery takes care of everything with a few simple steps. If you are looking for a solution that can automate your organization's DevOps needs, then Qovery is for you. 

To experience first-hand the power of Qovery's self-service infrastructure,

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