note, managing and enabling the cultural changes inside an organization
can be a more difficult and important
challenge than implementing the
technical changes. Good leadership is
vital. One approach studied in several
contexts, including DevOps, is transformational leadership; this style uses
five dimensions (vision, intellectual
stimulation, inspirational communication, supportive leadership, and
personal recognition) to inspire and
Second, DevOps requires a custom
solution for each organization. Each
context is unique, and a prescriptive
approach to DevOps implementation
and adoption is unlikely to be successful. Teams and organizations pose a
unique set of challenges and cultural
norms. Each one should adopt and
adapt its own approach to achieve Dev
Ops success. The adaptation of Dev
Ops should include development of
not only technical, but also cultural,
process, and measurement practices.
The work of creating a unique and
seemingly ad hoc technology transformation journey is difficult and may
be daunting, so many organizations
look for step-by-step guides. However,
these are not likely to provide solutions (beyond basic advice such as
“automate your toolchain”) and are
usually offered by those trying to sell
Third, each DevOps solution
should encompass a holistic view,
consisting of automation (
including tools and architecture), process,
and culture. In many traditional approaches, specialist knowledge in one
area (for example, development) is
leveraged to accomplish a task before
passing it off to another group. In DevOps, a move from this high specialization to include a broad understanding of more areas is necessary. (Some
call this T-shaped knowledge, with the
top part of the “T” representing broad
knowledge, while the stem of the T
represents deep understanding in one
area of expertise.)
This allows people to understand
how their work will affect and inter-
act with more areas of the technical
stack; this often requires significant
additional learning and responsibili-
ties in the transition to DevOps. Orga-
nizations should provide training and
education, and not just expect tech-
nologists to augment their learning
independently. Note that while some
technologists consider this expansion
of responsibilities and knowledge ex-
citing, others may push back, espe-
cially those who are just a few years
from retirement and comfortable in
their work roles, or who see sharing
information about their roles as a risk
to job security. Organizations must
consider these training and cultural
challenges in particular and respond
accordingly. (As already noted, DevO-
ps is about much more than just tech-
DevOps is about providing guidelines
for faster time to market of new software features and achieving a higher
level of stability. Implementing cross-functional, product-oriented teams
helps bridge the gaps between software development and operations.
By ensuring their transformations
include all of the principles outlined
in CALMS, teams can achieve superior performance and deliver value to
their organizations. DevOps is often
challenging, but stories from across
the industry show that many organizations have already overcome the early
hurdles and plan to continue their
progress, citing the value to their organizations and the benefits to their
The authors would like to thank our
anonymous reviewers, whose guidance
and thoughtful feedback helped us to
shape and refine this article.
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Anna Wiedemann is a research assistant at Neu-Ulm
University of Applied Sciences and a doctoral candidate at
the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany.
Nicole Forsgren does research and strategy at Google
Cloud and is best known as lead investigator on the
largest DevOps studies to date. She has been a successful
entrepreneur (with an exit to Google), professor,
performance engineer, and sysadmin.
Manuel Wiesche is a postdoctoral researcher at the Chair
for Information Systems, Department of Informatics at
the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany.
Heiko Gewald is research professor of information
management at Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences
and director of the Center for Research on Service
Helmut Krcmar is chaired professor of information
systems in the Department of Informatics at the
Technical University of Munich (TUM) and speaker of the
directorate of fortiss GmbH, the Research Institute of the
Free State of Bavaria for Software and Systems.
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