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DevOps Tool Sprawl, Part 1: Achieving a Rationalized DevOps Toolchain

May 6, 2019

Optimize to Transform: Achieving a Rationalized DevOps Toolchain

Every enterprise has taken at least some steps to transform their development practices in pursuit of DevOps principles.  The reason: the ability to shorten the end-to end development life cycle to deliver fully tested features, apps, and updates at the “speed of business”.  This can substantially enhance the organizational value of development teams across the enterprise.

The market for DevOps tools continues to experience rapid growth (with some studies pointing to a $12+ billion DevOps industry by 2025).  This is proof that companies are investing serious capital in the promised benefits of this enterprise development paradigm.  

The transformative potential of DevOps, however, comes with a distinct risk. Supporting agile, highly automated processes requires an expansive toolkit. Indeed, virtually every enterprise is already using at least some DevOps tools—often separate IT tools for separate dev teams across different business units. Separate teams often acquire new IT tools on an ad hoc basis as they encounter new problems (and often without checking in with other departments to prevent unnecessary acquisitions).

Efficiently managing this often-sprawling DevOps portfolio presents a serious challenge. Meanwhile an overlapping, under-optimized portfolio of technology tools risks negating the very efficiencies that the DevOps paradigm is intended to promote.

This “tool sprawl,” wasteful and costly IT tool usage that persists across the organization due to inadequate tool rationalization capabilities, is a serious issue for enterprise IT leaders. A recent survey by DevOpsDigest showed 69% of respondents affirming that their tool stack was growing. Meanwhile, 53% said that their development teams do not standardize on the same tools. Finally, over 53% of respondents from large organizations reported that their organization utilized over 20 tools in support of DevOps alone. IT tool sprawl is an IT management challenge that extends far beyond DevOps, but this data confirms that DevOps can function as a prime driver of this issue.

DevOps: Transformative Potential and Substantial Tools Management Needs

Successfully navigating the journey to a DevOps development model means understanding how to translate a massive set of enterprise development tools and workflows into this new paradigm. Only new startups are likely to be instituting a DevOps environment from scratch. Instead, enterprise leaders will be tasked with ensuring that a dense web of waterfall development processes, legacy development tools, and COTS and open source DevOps tools—all of which likely exist across multiple development teams and departments—are integrated within a rationalized management framework.  

This challenge is multi-faceted.  IT leaders first need to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the existing development toolchain’s capabilities, gaps, and overlaps. First, manually generating a detailed assessment of the existing environment.  Subsequently, cross-referencing it with relevant DevOps tooling scenarios.  This can be a gargantuan task given the scale and complexity of enterprise development toolchains.

This systematic assessment is essential, however, for successfully managing the transformation toward an efficient and effective DevOps strategy.

To get started, organizations need this sort of intel necessary for building a bridge to a streamlined organizational DevOps strategy.  IT needs a method for generating real-time perspective on the full complexity of their IT tool sprawl. This method needs to provide insight into how key DevOps workflows are being handled, which capabilities the current DevOps portfolio supports, and the extent to which these capabilities may overlap.

Without this information, winning the battle against tool sprawl will be nearly impossible and realizing the promised benefits of DevOps.

Click here to check out our next blog on DevOps tool sprawl.  Over the course of our next two blogs, we’ll take a deeper look at tool sprawl in the DevOps context and examine how RedMonocle’s feature set can be leveraged to facilitate the shift to agile development methodology while avoiding the tool sprawl problem.