DevOps is no longer the fringe, revolutionary and somewhat disruptive buzzword that is was ten years ago when it entered the tech lexicon. It has rapidly evolved and now enjoys broad approval as the software development methodology of choice. Thousands of development teams and millions of software programmers have adjusted their process, procedure and technique in order to align themselves with the DevOps model.

Nevertheless, DevOps is still a way off from maturing as a development model in the same way that the waterfall cycle model has. It still faces a couple of challenges today. We cover the major ones below.

Formal Definition

So far, there hasn’t been a universally understood and strictly adhered to the definition of DevOps. Many organizations considered themselves to be applying DevOps principles if a software project incorporates some aspects of operations and programming. This has partly been because the initial adoption of DevOps was more experimental as businesses sought to see whether it was worth changing their existing approach.

This informality has eventually persisted as companies settled into something DevOps-like that seemed to work. Unfortunately, this hybrid, half-hearted outcome robs the development project of the full benefits of the DevOps, agile or waterfall models. By drawing from best practice to formalize DevOps definitions internally, businesses will be better positioned to quantify and communicate the advantages DevOps provides for their teams.

Applying it to the Right Projects

In the decade that DevOps has been in use, its advantages over the waterfall model have been enumerated and discussed extensively. So much so that many businesses completely did away with their existing development model and dived headlong into DevOps.

DevOps is certainly time-saving and cost-efficient. That, however, doesn’t mean it’s suitable for every project. Development teams will have to follow a more critical approach to projects by taking the time to choose the model that is the best fit each time depending on the variables and dynamics of the project.

Thorough Product Testing

DevOps may speed up the process of building and releasing applications but is the product bug-free? Given the haste that DevOps inculcates in a project, it’s easy for the team to get so caught up in rapidly delivering the application to the extent that testing is given far less attention than it should.

One solution to this problem is automated testing tools. Testing is a repetitive process and you’ll likely be comparing each version of the product against a relatively static checklist. This makes it a perfect candidate for automation. You’ll still require some oversight of the testing process but with an automated tool, it will require far less human resource.

The Question of Legacy Apps

Legacy apps are difficult to maintain. With vendor support no longer available, the burden of keeping legacy systems running rests on the shoulders of your IT team. Legacy software becomes ever harder to run thanks to not just changing hardware and operating system environments but also development models.

This difficulty is especially exacerbated if your organization has made a clean switch to DevOps. Even something as essential as log file tailing is hard to do (see how to tail log file easily – Log file tailing solution from Papertrail). Legacy systems are almost always built with the waterfall technique and will thus not be readily compatible with applications build under DevOps. The best solution is to gradually phase-out old software.

Continuous Improvement

While DevOps runs on a set of core principles, the actual application of DevOps will vary from organization to organization. Part of this variation will be because of the unique internal dynamics of every business. However, another cause of the difference is the learning curve. No development team is going to get DevOps right from the get-go.

There’ll be a process of seeing what works and what doesn’t then changing DevOps procedures accordingly going forward. Businesses mustn’t leave continuous improvement to chance—they should purposefully incorporate a process at the end of each project where team members discuss problems they encountered and new practices are established to ensure these don’t recur in future DevOps projects.

If your development teams are already using DevOps then you are familiar with the tangible benefits it comes with and the challenges covered above. Fortunately, none of these challenges is insurmountable if you are ready to put in the requisite time and effort.


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