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The global DevOps market size was valued at $ 6.78 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $57.90 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 24.2% from 2021 to 2030.
With the growing demand and market size, it is imperative that the adoption of the technology is widespread amongst enterprises. DevOps, as the name suggests, is the combination of development and operation. Coming together of the two is effective in speeding up organizational development. The DevOps technology not only takes care of software production but deployment in a repeatable and automated manner.
To scale it further, businesses need a framework that can practice and apply Agile and Lean principles. This is termed as Scaled Agile Framework or SAFe. Bringing DevOps and SAFe, i.e SAFe DevOps delivers value whenever there is a need in a business.
Individually both DevOps and SAFe are very mature. Leveraging the best of both technologies, obviously, lead to better product delivery with enhanced speed. Thus, the interest of enterprises is highly inclined towards integrating them as SAFe agile DevOps.
Although there are multiple frameworks out there, SAFe is the most widely accepted and adopted framework. More than 1,000,000 practitioners and 20,000 enterprises worldwide in nearly every industry trust the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Gartner names SAFe the #1 most considered and adopted framework for scaling Agile.
For us to understand the criticality of scaled agile DevOps in business and how can we integrate them, let’s start with understanding what is SAFe and DevOps.
With 30% of the respondents using it, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) continues to be the scaling method of choice. The SAFe helps overcome the constraints of original agile methodologies by bringing improved results to larger software teams of hundreds and thousands of people. The SAFe principles enable better coordination, consistency, governance, and provide visibility of the priorities and progress.
In simple words, Scaled Agile Framework is a framework to implement agile, lean and DevOps practices at scale
As quoted above, more than 20,000 enterprises around the world acknowledge the benefits of scaling agile with SAFe. The following results were drawn based on aggregated customer case studies.
SAF’e principles help in making quicker decisions, communicating more effectively, and streamlining operations while staying focused on the customer. This is speeding up the process of agile and DevOps methodologies by aligning cross-functional teams to meet customer needs faster.
Built-in quality is one of the core values of SAFe that ensures quality integration at every step of the development process. This way, organizations ensure quality at every step rather than keeping it for the last-minute quality checks.
With improved coordination between the teams and teams of teams, the Scaled Agile Framework ensures measurable improvements in productivity. The improved coordination eliminates reworks, identifies and removes bottlenecks, continuously improves, and ensures that the right product is being built.
Better coordination, faster deliveries, and regular quality checks are the ways that show results. Better results lead to happier and more engaged employees. With Scaled Agile Framework, individuals can gain a better understanding, and achieve autonomy, mastery, and purpose: the key motivators, by reducing burn-outs.
The four primary knowledge bodies of SAFe are Agile development, Lean product development, system thinking, and DevOps, which makes it broad, deep, and scaleable. It supports the knowledge bodies with four core values, viz. alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution.
Going with the literal meaning – bringing everything to one line is one of the core values of SAFe. It is important for all the teams to stay aligned with the vision of the organization and that everyone is moving in the right direction towards the common goal/destination.
Staying aligned is essential for organizations to stay competitive by effectively dealing with fast changes in the market, distributed teams, and other challenges.
To achieve alignment, it starts at the portfolio level and drips down to production and solution management and product owners. With the help of PI (Product Iteration) Objectives and Iteration Goals, commitments are communicated to the team in the form of an agile release train.
Quality cannot be an afterthought. Ensuring that every element and every step of the development process reflects the highest standards of quality at all times is one of the core values.
To achieve the same, SAFe is organized around flow, architecture and design quality, code quality, system quality, and release quality.
Transparency in processes is the main ingredient of healthy organizations. It is crucial as it makes organizations more robust and resistant to failures. With transparency comes trust and openness that eases the process of troubleshooting and bug fixing.
To provide transparency/visibility, the teams work toward meeting short-term commitments. Artifacts, documents, objectives, and measurements of progress are made available at all levels within the organization.
This last core value is directly drawn from the agile manifesto that emphasizes the importance of working software rather than comprehensive documentation.
Program execution is the consequence of the other three values. With a reliable quality mechanism, detection and subsequent troubleshooting of errors and bugs become easier, which ensures consistent system execution.
DevOps is the culture, mindset, and set of technical practices that bring people, processes, and technology together to ensure continuous value delivery. By following the approach of plan, build, deploy, operate, continuous feedback, and integration, accelerate the process of launch, release, or updation of the product effectively.
As the name suggests, it is a combination of development and IT operations. The goal is to deliver value whenever the business needs it.
In the planning stage, the DevOps team ideate, define, and describe the features and capabilities of the product/system that is to be developed/delivered. The progress of the project is tracked at granular levels from single-product tasks to multiple products.
To manage the backlogs and track bugs, the DevOps team manages agile software development with Scrum, the use of Kanban boards, and the progress of the project is monitored with agility and visibility.
Based on the plan created, the development phase covers all the aspects of coding like writing, testing, reviewing, and integration. The artifacts too are built that can be deployed in various environments. The development process is to innovate rapidly while maintaining quality, stability, and productivity.
To perform the mundane tasks, the DevOps team uses highly automated tools throughout to iterate the progress incrementally through automated testing and continuous integration.
This critical phase involves the process of deploying applications into production environments. With clear manual approval stages, teams clearly define the release management process with automated gates. This makes them scalable, repeatable and controlled, enabling the delivery with ease and confidence.
This state involves maintaining, monitoring, and troubleshooting applications in production environments. With an aim of zero downtime, it is ensured that the system works reliably while reinforcing security and governance. This phase ensures that the issues are identified and corrected to ensure a high-quality customer experience.
Organizations can automate and optimize their processes by adopting DevOps technology. As it brings the development and operations teams together, it becomes important to imbibe this culture within the teams as well, which can only be achieved by bringing the cultural changes in the way people work and collaborate. However, if and when achieved, the organizations will have the high-performance culture.
The teams that earlier used to work in silos, need to become transparent for better collaboration with clear visibility. The teams should be transparent and proactive enough in sharing their processes, priorities, and concerns with each other. All the involved teams must align themselves to work together and measure their success relatively.
By collaborating and involving themselves, the teams take the ownership of complete project cycle and process not just ones related to their roles. For example, developers become accountable for innovation and quality established in the development phase, and the performance and stability their changes bring in operate phase. Similarly IT operations need to get involved and take the accountability for security and compliance in the plan and develop phase.
The primary feature of DevOps is to remain agile by releasing software in short cycles. This enables planning and risk management easier as the progress is incremental. Overall, it reduces the impact on system stability and adapts and reacts to evolving customer requirements.
You can also discover the DevOpsification process cycle by the industry expert Gopesh Verma here.
With the cultural change, comes growth. It stands correct for the DevOps team as well. As the deliveries are made in smaller chunks and development is done in collaboration with accountability, the team mitigates the risk of failures, learns from them, incorporates the learning in the process, continually improving, increasing customer experience, and accelerating innovation and market adaptability. DevOps is a journey, thus it will always have room to grow.
By adopting the above culture, the DevOps team follows the practice of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
As we learned above, DevOps bring together the teams that work in silos for smooth development and maintenance of the software. The question is what is the primary goal of DevOps in SAFe? Let us explore the answer to this from a business perspective.
Scaled Agile Framework SAFe, executes DevOps to align the teams and develop a Continuous Delivery Pipeline (CDP) that enables the solution delivery at the speed of the business.
The purpose of DevOps SAFe is to deliver value as and when the business requires it.
To achieve continuous delivery, it is imperative to ensure sound information security practices. In SAFe, the term used for security in DevOps is DevSecOps.
The primary goal of DevOps in SAFe is to empower the organization to deliver continuous value to customers. To incorporate SAFe in DevOps, organizations can follow the CALMR approach. It includes the following five elements:
The below-mentioned elements of the SAFe approach in DevOps usher the decisions and actions of the teams involved in continuous value delivery.
In SAFe, DevOps adopts the Lean-Agile approach, principles, and practices of the entire framework. Keeping in mind the customer-centric approach, collaboration, risk tolerance, and knowledge sharing, DevOps incorporates all the SAFe principles. Primarily, it denotes the shared responsibility for development and operations.
At its core, DevOps automates the process with a continuous learning process to eliminate mundane tasks and possibilities of errors. By automation, the Continous Delivery Pipeline through an integrated “toolchain” speeds up the processing time and reduces the feedback loops.
Building and operating a continuous delivery pipeline toolchain involves the tools like Value Stream Management (VSM), Version Control, Infrastructure as code, Test Automation, Vulnerability detection, CI/CD, monitoring and analytics, and implementation-specific tools.
This represents the pushing of small batches for the delivery of software. It offers real-time visibility of work in progress (WIP), enabling reduced costs and increased frequency of release, and brings down the rework by managing queue lengths, increasing predictability, and other inclusions.
It is important to accurately measure the delivery effectiveness and recording the same for continuous improvement for DevOps success. Measure the pipeline flow, solution quality, and value to ensure the whole delivery pipeline to evaluate lead-time and cycle time.
To ensure sustained value delivery, the CDP must be designed for low-risk deliveries and faster recovery from bugs and issues. Some of the techniques that can help effective fast recoveries are Stop-the-line, plan and rehearse failures, fast fix forward, and rollback.
As explained above, DevOps can be beneficial in automation, improved efficiency, accelerated software development, and deployment that will ultimately optimize the business. By integrating SAFe in DevOps, you leverage the benefits of both helps you focus more on your customers improving your business.
DevOps gives you complete control and visibility over setup and deployment while speeding up the complete process with continuous improvements. Many principles of SAFe are valid in the concept of the DevOps framework as well. For instance, quick feedback, short iterations, and small batch sizes.
Both SAFe and DevOps have achieved maturity in their own respects independently. The success of both approaches has been luring the organizations to integrate them for further benefits. The paths of approaches that SAFe and DevOps follow seem to be converging, For example, DevOps is featured as a component of the latest version of SAFe. Having said that, both approaches have a few conflicts that are putting forth the trouble to the organization for their integration. What are these gaps/conflicts?
To achieve the speed of product delivery that the business wants, DevOps follows the approach of decentralized decision-making. This fundamental structural change uncovers the conflict and gap that can primarily be divided into two groups, as mentioned below:
Although SAFe offers strong planning capabilities, it has fewer techniques to manage work in progress specifically if the dependencies are across multiple teams.
In the race to deliver faster, the gaps are caused by the failure of measuring capabilities when the organizations deliver way faster than ever before. Without the help of SAFe telemetry methods, organizations cannot measure their progress thus failing to find ways to improve.
To cover the above-mentioned gaps and conflicts, a new set of practices and tools, VSM is introduced that offers the maximum possible visibility of the workflow through the entire software development pipeline. It empowers the development team to identify and remove the bottlenecks.
The VSM tool can enable the organization to converge the planning and delivery pipeline into a single system. Visualizing and managing dependencies between the teams becomes easier with this tool, enabling better coordination and implementation of the decentralized decision in a safe manner.
Having expertise in both approaches, the team of seasoned professionals can bring the best forward to ensure that your organization gets the best end product.
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DevOps is an approach to delivering value continuously by bringing operation and development teams together. With the CALMR approach of SAFe, organizations can manifest the DevOps approach.
From quicker development to deployment, the DevOps benefits for business can be experienced in a much better way in the SAFe environment. By integrating the approaches, businesses can ensure considerable enhancement in the quality of the product.
Q. Out of team members and the organization, who benefits the most from the incorporation of DevOps in SAFe?
A. Everyone benefits from the incorporation of DevOps in SAFe as the processes from inception to product, idea, or problem, to mapping, backlogs, development, and quality checks of the product features. At this point, the features of DevOps come in handy to ensure that the operations and development teams work in tandem while driving toward a common goal of releasing business values together.
Q. Does the integration of DevOps and SAFe bring accuracy or speed?
A. By eliminating the error-prone manual work, the integration does not compromise on any of the benefits but rather benefits from both perspectives if you are ready to invest in DevOps and SAFe.
Q. How is DevOps incorporated into SAFe?
A. SAFe promotes continuous integration, continuous deployment, and release on demand by implementing the CALMR approach.