DevOps and Agile – Better Together?

 

DevOps has clearly taken center stage in the software development world.

We don’t have to look very far to find headlines about the latest DevOps practices and patterns as enterprises journey toward better, faster software delivery. We see plenty of success stories about DevOps in the news, and we have access to loads of expert advice on how to overcome DevOps challenges.

The success of DevOps has made big waves on both the IT and business sides of the coin. These big changes and industry developments are creating new discussions about the relationship between DevOps and Agile.

Can the next generation of DevOps expand the use of Agile principles and help connect software development to the business more closely? Can Agile help drive better DevOps practices and innovations?

DevOps Enables Agile

We believe Agile and DevOps work together naturally and that the DevOps solutions can make Agile more enterprise-friendly.

Agile is a way of thinking and a set of principles, whereas DevOps is a transformational approach or journey through specific practices. One doesn’t replace the other. Rather, when applied together, they can unify software development with the business and help organizations develop software in better ways.

Together they can improve the quality of the software, the speed of delivery, the visibility into risks, the alignment to business objectives, and more.

If applied correctly, DevOps and Agile make it possible for software development to take its place at the heart of the enterprise. This is as it should be because it affects every major aspect of the business.

But there are challenges to getting DevOps and Agile functioning in complementary ways.

Agile Versus Management

From a management perspective, we’ve seen some big communication challenges recently between managers and Agile practitioners.

This Forbes article suggests that management and Agile live in completely different worlds. It explains that Agile follows a more horizontal path rather than the vertical management approach. The differences are described as being so vast that confusion and disconnect between the two are the results.

On the other hand, one of our more engaging tweets in 2016 included a link to CollabNet CEO Flint Brenton’s response piece, which argued that management and Agile can in fact get along.

In his piece Flint acknowledged the tension between the worlds of Agile and management. However, he argued that management may not understand the needs of Agile developers and vice versa, and perhaps the solution is to overcome these differences.

He wrote that Agile practices are beneficial to the business when the proper training, transparency, visibility, and awareness occur. When we bring DevOps into this argument, perhaps it owns the power to bridge the gap between management and Agile through DevOps patterns around cultural transformation, testing, automation, and more.

Automation, for example, is such a powerful tool that it can refocus and expedite the work of Agile teams. Kurt Bittner, former Forrester research analyst and current vice president at Scrum.org, posted a blog about this topic on Scrum.org in September 2016 and summed it up well.

He wrote, “Agile and DevOps are not really separate things. Agile has always embraced excellence in engineering principles. Having to deliver and support applications in production expands that focus. Doing so at significantly faster cycles means that automation is now an even more important part of those engineering practices.”

Agile Training Demand

When we look further into the relevancy of Agile in a world where DevOps is mainstream, we can say confidently that Agile remains a highly sought after practice. At CollabNet we continue to see demand for Agile training and certification – it’s still a big part of what we do.

In October 2016, we recapped the Agile Open Northern California conference in a blog post, which summed up the great conversations we had at the event around Agile and how it’s transforming (but remains important) in the age of DevOps.

In fact, CollabNet is offering Agile training courses all over the world this year. Programs have already begun and will continue through June. You can find classes in a city near you and register using this calendar.

To us it is clear that DevOps and Agile definitely get along. DevOps practices help propel the success of Agile teams.

If organizations continue to follow Agile principles as they adopt DevOps approaches, they’ll be able to witness a significant positive impact on business – as long as they maintain visibility and transparency.

Thomas Hooker

Thomas Hooker is vice president of marketing at Collabnet. As the head of CollabNet's marketing team, he oversees demand generation, brand, customer marketing, public relations, analyst relations, product marketing, and corporate communications. A 20+ year veteran of high-tech Thomas has held Marketing, Product Management and Engineering positions at a variety of leading companies including BMC, Boole & Babbage, Tidal Software and Cisco.

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