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Puppet Labs hails importance of IT managers in winning over DevOps sceptics in the enterprise

Automation supplier's fourth annual DevOps research report highlights the important role IT managers play in ensuring enterprise-wide adoption

IT managers are central to the success of DevOps adoption by enterprises because of the role they play in ensuring the right business culture exists for projects to thrive.

That's according to the fourth annual edition of Puppet Lab's report into DevOps trends, which examines how adoption of the software delivery method can improve the performance of the IT department and – in turn – the wider business.

Realising these benefits requires everyone in the organisation to appreciate why DevOps is the right way to go, the report stated, but that will be difficult to achieve without the help of an IT manager.

"A DevOps initiative isn't likely to succeed if you take a top-down approach, nor can it flourish as a purely grassroots movement," the report said.

"A successful DevOps initiative requires buy-in from the entire organisation. That's why IT managers play such a critical role – it's the IT manager's responsibility to bridge from business goals to on-the-ground execution," it added. 

When it comes to acquiring buy-in, the report advises IT leaders to be as demonstrative as possible about their commitment to the cause by outlining their DevOps investment and staff training plans. This will allow employees to appreciate that DevOps is considered a "big deal" by the organisation.

One example is to set up a dedicated DevOps training budget and encoure staff to attend off-site technical conferences, before then inviting them to share with the team what they have learned.

Show and tell

Nigel Kersten, CIO of Puppet Labs, told Computer Weekly that thanks to the hype surrounding DevOps at the moment, it's getting easier for IT chiefs to win over sceptical senior management types.

"We believe the best way to get buy-in from senior managers is to show results. What we typically see in large organisations is that one team ends up leading the charge and their results speak for themselves, leading to more interest and investment in DevOps," he said.

"IT managers are critical for communicating those wins through the business, while also making sure their teams have the latitude to learn and fail," he added.

The report advises IT chiefs to set aside time for staff to experiment with DevOps-friendly tools and technologies, as well to have a separate infrastructure budget so they can embark on spin-off projects.

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"It's unrealistic to expect people to change the way they work without organisational support and budget. Many organisations expect people to acquire new skills and adopt new tools without adequate funding, and even without allowing for any extra time, all while continuing to be productive," the report continued.

"In contrast, high-performing organisations commit to investments in training and development, in addition to tools. Our data shows these organisations are more likely to have a generative culture and achieve better outcomes," it said.

Preventing staff burnout

The report also advises on the risk of staff burnout and the steps IT managers can take to prevent this from derailing their DevOps ambitions.

"Managers who want to avert employee burnout should concentrate their attention and efforts on fostering a respectful, supportive work environment that emphasises learning from failures and communicating a strong sense of purpose," the report said.

According to Kersten, Puppet Labs' data shows investing in DevOps can help reduce the risk of burnout occurring.

"DevOps practices rely on automation – this reduces the manual and repetitive work associated with burnout [and] results in less unplanned work and fire fighting, so organisations can embrace change rather than fear it," he said.

"DevOps enables teams to continuously improve the system because they're not in constant fire-fighting mode. They're also getting real-time feedback from the system they can immediately act upon," he added.

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