4 DevOps Flaws Revealed by the Pandemic

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DevOps started to show a few inherent flaws during the pandemic. Here are four of them.

    DevOps has been around for over a decade, but while it can be extremely effective in certain environments, it’s never really been put to the test as it has over the pandemic.

    The driving idea behind DevOps is to introduce an agile operation poised to deliver software and updates early and often. People might think DevOps teams were in a great position to deal with major challenges like the pandemic, but that’s not necessarily the case.

    When things got tough, DevOps started to show inherent flaws in how companies have implemented their strategies. In theory, DevOps should have helped these teams overcome and deal with the sudden change, but many organizations struggled.

    Understanding what those DevOps flaws are can vastly improve future implementations.

    1. Growing Pains

    DevOps is designed to roll out software faster and iterate on those products with the same agility.

    When COVID hit hard in the spring of 2020, many development teams struggled to produce and roll out a proper supportive platform. Verily is a prime example of one that failed to take hold. However, state governments had similar problems.

    DevOps is an agile system meant to enable fast development and decision-making, and it empowers action. While the COVID testing apps aren’t as simple as people might think, they still should not have taken as long as they did to produce, let alone support future updates.

    The continuous delivery that DevOps encourages is not shown here. It must be implemented at a core level within an operation to ensure schedules are prioritized and adhered to.

    2. Security

    Sometimes when teams prioritize speed and agility over other facets, there are sacrifices. Cybersecurity for the applications, remote servers and systems can suffer.

    This happened with Dominion’s voting software and systems. Whether the claims were correct or not, the real question is how secure the applications are and if they’re ready for primetime after such a quick development and testing cycle.

    There are a couple of things at play here. The first involves the security of the system itself. The second involves the heavy traffic and attention it’s getting. Development teams must appropriately plan for security and performance issues that arise due to popularity or heavy traffic. The latter is important because the more attention an application or service gets, the more likely nefarious actors will attack it. DDoS, or distributed-denial-of-service attacks, can take down an entire system for minutes, hours or even days at a time.

    What does that mean for users who are relying on these services? Pushing applications and development cycles faster to get the product out sooner can lead to glaring oversights in security and performance. In a true DevOps environment, that would not happen.

    3. Consistency and Rhythm

    Another aspect that DevOps is designed to do away with is process-based and operational bottlenecks, which would otherwise slow down teams. This is a major concern for software development and every industry that’s currently employing agile frameworks. Bottlenecks, siloes and the unspoken problems that arise during normal operations should be mitigated if and when DevOps strategies are implemented properly. That leads to smooth and consistent delivery for output.

    For example, getting back to “normal” in today’s pandemic means speedy delivery of vaccines and medical supplies. Manufacturers employ useful techniques to boost operations to warp speed, such as deploying high purity water and steam systems. While they may not be a part of standard operations, rolling out these solutions plays a critical role in developing faster vaccines and supplies.

    Finding new ways to speed up operations and deliver consistent, rhythmic results is a core tenant of DevOps and one that tends to fail when push comes to shove.

    4. Usability

    Usability and performance can be improved over time through consistent updates and revisions. However, the application in question must be convenient and useful at launch, and any updates made to improve the experience must not take months to arrive. DevOps strategies generally plan for these events and help push out revisions faster than comparable paradigms, but only when implemented properly.

    Usability is a primary concern for certain industries and applications, particularly where users do not have extensive software and related technologies training. For example, a major infrastructure control system — such as IoT-enabled supply chain controls — must be usable by the professionals manning the platform. Those software applications play a critical role in how infrastructure is managed. A convoluted design with poorly implemented fixes will lead to major setbacks for critical operations.

    Back to DevOps Roots

    The prevailing idea behind all failures is that DevOps was not truly implemented at a foundational level. Many organizations think they’ve embedded DevOps practices within their culture and operations, but that’s not necessarily the case, especially when it comes to the unexpected, like COVID.

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    Devin Partida, Technology Editor @ ReHack

    Devin Partida is a technology and cybersecurity writer whose work has been published on many industry publications, including AT&T's Cybersecurity blog, AOL and Entrepreneur.

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