Jun 03 2016

Metrics Businesses Need to Know Before Adopting DevOps

As more companies embrace the agile approach that weaves IT development with operations, they must also figure out how to gauge their performance.

DevOps, a combined agile approach to development and operations across the IT lifecycle, has revolutionized the software development and release processes at many organizations.

At its core, DevOps’ primary goal is to provide a framework to allow development and operations teams to work better together for the benefit of the customer. With the right culture, teams and tools, organizations can produce and deliver new software and features to their customers faster, as well as support and resolve bugs more quickly, all complemented by an infrastructure that is both dynamic and resilient.

Following DevOps principles, an organization can see numerous benefits, but it’s not until an organization can measure its progress that it will ever be truly successful at it. Without a measuring stick to track progress, guide changes and make adjustments, it will be extremely hard to gauge the success of an organization’s DevOps initiatives.

Metrics to Measure Performance

The success of any process or methodology is evaluated through a set of metrics. DevOps is no exception. But DevOps is not a technology and doesn’t have an explicit framework to evaluate. This is where many businesses fail in applying this approach: They don’t assess the performance of DevOps-enabled environments.

By identifying key metrics and getting clear insights into the performance of the infrastructure, companies can make the most of a combined development and operations environment.

While people and culture are important in a DevOps environment, tools are equally crucial. Knowing what to use when and how is critical. By monitoring the performance of the technology and tools, businesses can measure the success of their DevOps environments. Here are a few metrics to implement:

1. Raw Incident Count

This metric tracks the number of incidents a team receives.

In a DevOps-enabled environment, this metric should be small. If this number increases, it means the technology is not properly configured, or automation is not correctly implemented.

Make sure to compare this metric against the growth of the business. As the organization grows, the number of incidents grows as well. By automating common fixes, you can lower this count.

Another thing to remember while analyzing this metric is that it’s important to break down the data according to teams so that you can understand where things are going wrong.

2. Mean Time to Detect

MTTD is the time difference between the occurrence of a revenue-impacting event and the time when the event is detected by the technician.

Be sure not to confuse this with the mean time to resolution. For an effective resolution to be made, the MTTD should be low. This is possible when proper alerting processes are in place.

3. Mean Time to Resolution

MTTR tracks the time taken by a team to resolve an incident.

Service breakdowns and unplanned outages negatively impact customer loyalty and create the potential to negatively affect company revenues. Proper automation procedures, standardized run books, and appropriate alerting and escalation policies can reduce this number by a significant margin.

4. Process Metrics

The primary goal of DevOps is to optimize the software development lifecycle with a continuous delivery approach.

To achieve this goal, organizations need to have proper procedures in place. Process metrics provide insights into how the organization is performing at each stage. This tends to be somewhat unique to a project’s particular elements, but once set they can be tracked to help an organization identify where it can improve efficiency.

5. Lead Time

This metric measures the time taken from the start of development to production.

The smaller this value, the faster the team’s agility. When processes are woven together, teams can achieve shorter lead times and faster time to market — delivering more business value to the organization.

6. Deployment Frequency

As DevOps facilitates smaller development cycles, companies can push changes and updates regularly. By monitoring deployment frequency, you can gauge the performance of the processes. This metric should trend upward or remain constant.

DevOps is multifaceted and can seem overwhelming. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine. That is why it is important to continuously track progress so that the organization can compare past performance with current performance and set attainable goals for future performance. Applying hard numbers to DevOps activities is crucial for gauging how well the environment is progressing and where to make adjustments if it’s not.

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