IT faces uphill struggle in DevOps culture change

More than half of IT departments will struggle with new ways of running software development projects

More than half of IT departments will struggle with new ways of running software development projects unless they make major changes to their culture.

According to analyst Gartner, the implementation of a bimodal IT strategy requires careful planning and execution.

It estimated that by 2018, 75% of enterprise IT departments will have tried to create a bimodal capability.

But less than 50% of them will gain the efficiencies that new software development methodologies promise.

Ian Head, research director at Gartner, said: "We estimate that, by 2018, 90% of organisations attempting to use DevOps without specifically addressing their cultural foundations will fail. 

"Movement to agile will not, and should not, be a wholesale immediate change. Instead, it should first be implemented in areas where there is a very real business need for speed, and then carefully rolled out, taking the culture of the organisation into account."

Gartner described the cultural shift required by IT as "bimodal IT" and recommended CIOs to organise IT to operate in two distinct ways. First, support traditional IT, which is focused on emphasising scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. The second mode of operation is where agile and DevOps are used to improve agility and speed.

"Changing the behaviours and culture are fundamental to the success of a bimodal IT approach,” said Head.

When shifting to a more agile way of working, Head said IT departments should start small and establish the values and behavioural changes needed. "Make incremental efforts to recognise and reinforce desired outcomes prior to scaling," he said.

Changing IT's culture

  • Addressing cultural challenges.
  • Work with key stakeholders to gain consensus.
  • Start with a small, focused pilot and roll out iteratively.
  • Pursue continual improvement.

Source: Gartner

Startups and webscale organisations use agile and DevOps to develop software that is rolled out into production continuously. 

One example, the Hailo taxi app, began four years ago using a traditional software development team. But this was holding back the business, said Boyan Dimitrov, platform automation lead at Hailo, speaking at this month's AWS Summit. 

"We could not increase our velocity. It was harder to add new features because everyone in the team was working on the same code base," said Dimitrov.

Rather than program in a traditional way, Hailo split the software into smaller chunks, known as microservices, each of which is owned by an individual team, said Dimitrov.

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