If you want to create anything in large volumes – from cars to cupcakes – you need to have a standardised manufacturing process. It makes it easier for you to know what’s going on across the business, control the quality, and make changes if necessary. And the same is true for software development and delivery.
To make your DevOps initiative a success and to ensure CI/CD can thrive, you will need to bring in the best tools to meet your requirements and then standardise them across the organisation. This helps streamline implementation across the organisation by using a common platform, common practices and common reporting processes. There is an initial effort in getting tool standardisation set up, but once everything’s in place, your team can focus more on enhancing your products and less on the system details involved in delivery.
When it comes to standard toolsets, there are lots to choose from, but that doesn’t make it an easy choice. You may already have a variety of tools in use by your teams, and there will be a number of favourites among your developers. So it’s important to take a step back and examine the pros and cons of any option that’s on the table in relation to your organisation’s needs. If you haven't already, read our previous article on picking the right CI/CD tool for the job, to help you choose the right tool for your organisation.
Difficult decisions aside, there are plenty of benefits to look forward to if you go down a standardisation path. Let’s take a look at some of the big ones.
Have greater visibility
With a centralised approach your teams will have a better global view of how everything’s working across the organisation. That means they’ll be better placed to recognise where best practice is in place and where it’s lacking. And with all teams on the same tools, tracking and monitoring work is simplified, making it easier to gain useful, actionable insights.
A good DevOps initiative is built on a collaborative approach – a mindset that actively encourages and facilitates the sharing of ideas, metrics, processes, and technologies. But collaboration between developers working in different teams is easier said than done, particularly where competition comes into play, and even more so when they’re using different tools. Standardisation puts rivalries aside and enables test and deployment patterns to emerge. The best ways of working rise to the surface and are quickly adopted by all teams.
Maintenance made easy
And developers aren’t the only ones who benefit from standardisation. Complex systems take a lot of time to manage for your IT team. With multiple independent tools, maintenance can be tricky, and your system will likely be more vulnerable as a result. From installation and repair to patching and upgrades, not to mention training staff how to use everything, a less standardised approach is a nightmare. But if all your equipment is aligned, your IT team can become experts in maintaining it.
Manage risk and stay compliant
When it comes to security and keeping systems SAFe®, a simple set-up is ideal. With standardisation comes simplification, making your IT environment easier to protect. IT teams won’t be stretched thin trying to understand and monitor numerous services. Instead, they’ll become familiar with the core technology everyone’s using and the way they’re using it, and be able to recognise suspicious activity as soon as it occurs.
With a collaborative culture and a standardised technology stack, you’re in a better position to implement CI/CD practices like version control, streamline database code changes, and automate testing. You’ll also see fewer errors, happier people, and reap the benefits of being able to move team members around, confident that they’ll know how to get on with the job, wherever they are in the organisation.
Keep costs to a minimum
Complex systems can be costly – the more tools in the mix, the more you have to spend on support and training. Plus, you can’t take advantage of larger, enterprise licences if only a few people are using a particular tool. Standardisation streamlines these costs, simplifies billing and procurement, allows you to upgrade equipment in larger quantities at a better price, and optimises how you use the software you’re paying for.
Scaling fully automated IT systems can take time and be expensive, but with standardisation, your simpler network of base components can be easily replicated and added to. Take scalable steps in the right direction by focusing on the highest-value opportunities first, such as customer-facing components. Standardised automated testing that measures performance and security gives managers insights that can help them to refine planning, allocate resources more effectively, and improve product and service quality.
Standardisation goes far beyond evaluating tools – it’s important to consider your culture, goals, and processes too and figure out where this cohesion makes the most sense. In some cases, such as with legacy projects, standardising tools might be too disruptive and not worth the effort.
Don’t forget about your other tools either – you’ll need a standardised toolset that can be integrated with your essential software. And don’t get carried away with trends or new shiny options. Just because something’s popular, it doesn’t mean it’s right for your organisation.
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