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What Is the Main Goal of a SAFe DevOps Transformation?

July 26th, 2023 by Michał Kułaczkowski
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The Scale Agile Framework (SAFe) DevOps transformation is the methodological approach to achieve both faster software delivery and higher quality. By combining Lean Thinking and Agile, DevOps teams can ensure the acceleration of the software development process does not come at the expense of quality. On the contrary, it leads to a more reliable end product.

This article explains the details of SAFe DevOps digital transformation and its goals.

What is the main purpose of DevOps in SAFe?

DevOps and SAFe are two different approaches to software development, deployment, and maintenance. However, as they can effectively complement each other, DevOps has become a part of SAFe.

SAFe focuses on bringing Agile practices to large enterprises, with a particular emphasis on scaling its principles to make them accessible to multiple projects and teams. The main goals of this framework are to ensure consistency in the value delivered through collaboration and alignment and to solve problems in the Agile adoption experienced by large organizations.

The main objective of the paradigm shift towards adopting DevOps practices is to bridge the gap between teams which specialize in development and operations by improving communication and collaboration between developers, production and deployment specialists, product owners, security teams, and business executives.

This approach minimizes a number of potential issues that would otherwise extend time-to-market and impact software quality.

A key component of the DevOps framework is continuous learning and feedback, typically achieved by implementing feedback loops throughout the software development and delivery process.

Another particularly important part of the DevOps culture is the emphasis on continuous monitoring of software, as well as efficient and effective allocation of resources and technologies that help optimize the infrastructure and software scalability.

All of these components of DevOps culture can contribute significantly to SAFe practices and help organizations achieve the primary goal of improving software quality and reliability while reducing the overall production and deployment time. The DevOps' emphasis on scalability can be of particular value to organizations implementing the SAFe framework.

How has DevOps evolved?

The DevOps movement emerged between 2007 and 2008 as a result of growing dissatisfaction among IT specialists who experienced the inefficiencies of the traditional approach to software development and deployment, in which the specialists who build applications are separated from those who deploy and maintain this software.

The siloed structure of software houses, in which IT/OPs specialists and developers were treated as two completely independent teams, led to a significant decline in the quality of digital products as their complexity steadily increased.

In turn, the term "DevOps" was first introduced by programmer Patrick Debois, who is now considered one of the DevOps gurus among companies adopting this approach. In 2008, he was seemingly the only attendee at the Agile Conference meetup session on the Agile infrastructure in Toronto, Canada, organized by Andrew Shafer. Both of them initiated the discussion on ways to allow tech companies to create a bridge between development and operations teams.

The growing popularity and recognition of DevOps efficiency led to its inclusion in SAFe practices in 2015.

In the meantime, DevOps continues to evolve and in some cases, it has transformed into PlatformOps, an approach to maintaining, optimizing, and securing the platform used by developers, DevOps, SecOps, and NetOps.

What is DevOps Transformation Roadmap?

To implement DevOps SAFe practices, organizations need an effective strategic plan to help them navigate the transformation process. The DevOps transformation roadmap typically includes the following steps.

1. Specifying Organization's Goals and Expectations

Effective DevOps transformation is impossible without setting clear goals and expectations for this project.

First of all, it is necessary to understand the current state of an organization, including its culture, tools in use, and development and operational processes. When areas that require improvement are identified, it is possible to set the goals for the DevOps transformation process.

This, in turn, requires an understanding of common misconceptions about DevOps. Many teams mistakenly believe that it is a one-size-fits-all solution that can eliminate all possible problems. Some organizations also assume that DevOps tools themselves can solve all issues.

Organizations also tend to believe that DevOps can bring them immediate cost savings and ensure overnight transformation.

If the team understands the limitations of these myths about DevOps, they can set more realistic goals. These should be measurable and have a specific timeframe. An example of such a goal might be to reduce deployment time by 50% within eighteen months after the DevOps adoption.

2. Cross-training and Collaboration

Implementing effective DevOps performance in an organization is impossible without fostering effective communication and collaboration, and a gradual connection between the isolated teams responsible for software development and operations.

At the same time, the shift to the DevOps paradigm cannot rely solely on cultural changes. Cross-training and education of individuals from different teams are also required.

3. Tool Selection and Building DevOps Environment

Effective software development and deployment using the DevOps methodology requires appropriate tools, which should be selected based on the specific needs and capabilities of a particular organization.

These tools should promote collaboration, continuous integration, and continuous delivery, and support infrastructure deployment, testing, and monitoring. At the same time, DevOps tools should adhere to the most effective security practices and quality assurance standards.

Robust automation is a must for efficient DevOps solutions.

4. Alignment with Agile

One of the necessary steps on the path to DevOps transformation is alignment with Agile methodology, including practices such as Kanban and Scrum, whose principles complement the DevOps approach. Agile emphasizes interactive development, transparency, and collaboration, which further encourages development and operations teams to work together.

5. CI/CD Implementation

A full DevOps transformation is not possible without implementing the Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD) approach, which aims to automate code integration, testing, and deployment to accelerate software releases and improve application quality.

6. Adopting Continuous Monitoring Techniques

DevOps digital transformation can only be successful if effective continuous monitoring practices are put in place. This also requires implementing feedback loops that enable IT professionals to take a proactive approach to issues, mitigate risks and resolve problems as quickly as possible.

To gain insights into application performance, DevOps teams should establish metrics and dashboards for quality and performance assessment and use logging tools.

DevOps teams focus on optimizing the development lifecycle and scaling its processes.

7. Continuous Improvement

Adopting DevOps practices is not a one-time process, but a never-ending journey of continuous improvement. DevOps fosters a culture of learning and innovation and welcomes collaboration sessions to share knowledge and experiences among DevOps team members.

Conclusions - DevOps Paradigm Shift

SAFe DevOps transformation is a way to help development and operations teams reduce time-to-market and improve the quality and reliability of their software.

This approach promotes collaboration, continuous learning, and monitoring while emphasizing the importance of automating development, deployment, and testing tasks while separating developers from deployment and maintenance specialists is detrimental to the software quality.

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