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DevOps play a critical role in increasing an organization's efficiency, productivity and profitability – but increasingly complex insights are often hard to communicate to the broader team, leaving a visibility gap that can hinder the overall value DevOps provide. To examine this further, SmartDraw commissioned the 2019 DevOps Visibility Report. What we found was clear: every organization survey is seeking ways to improve DevOps visibility, with 84% of respondents listing it as somewhat to extremely important to their company. So why is real-time visibility so important?
Goals of DevOps Visibility
Organizations identified three core goals that improved visibility would bolster:
First, real-time visibility would improve DevOps efficiency. A system capable of immediate visibility would allow employees to focus on more skilled tasks and be operating from the most up-to-date information available.
Second, real-time visibility would improve the quality of software releases. By ensuring all team members are equipped with the same information, release errors or inconsistencies are less likely to occur.
Third, real-time visibility enables better decision making. When all stakeholders are able to track the current status of information, the organization can move forward with the best available option.
But achieving real-time visibility is not easy. Respondents listed some key challenges surrounding visibility:
Challenges of Achieving DevOps Visibility
The first challenge respondents identified was that achieving visibility currently takes skilled workers away from other work. DevOps teams are intended to be agile and optimized, and removing a skilled worker from a key deadline-driven task to achieve increased visibility can cause an immediate and significant negative impact on performance.
Further, the information presented is not always easily consumable. If the DevOps team creating a report lacks design skills or creates it in a way that works for DevOps, but not the organization at large, the effort spent on creating visibility can be wasted.
Finally, and often the most egregious, the reports have a short shelf life. DevOps teams are meant to move quickly, and poor report management can lead to old data that is at best useless, and at worst can cause release issues and misalignment throughout the organization.
Clearly, there's room for improvement. So, what are DevOps managers looking for in a visibility solution?
Key Elements of a DevOps Visibility Solution
Respondents identified key features that an excellent visibility tool would contain.
First, the solution must be flexible. It must integrate with the DevOps tools already in use. Without this integration, adopting a new solution is often more trouble than it is worth. Similarly, a solution should work with all DevOps data, irrespective of source.
Second, the solution must be consumable. It should not require a DevOps Manager to involve a team member in the report generation. The reports should be visually comprehensible and allow for deeper dives into the source data.
Finally, the reports must be real-time. A solution that relies on old, stale data does more harm than good. Any effective solution will allow for continuous updates with current information.
A good DevOps process saves an organization time and money while improving output quality. Yet poor visibility can hinder DevOps effectiveness and lead to sloppy end-results. Organizations should identify how to adopt a real-time DevOps visibility solution in order to allow team members to focus on the deadline-critical elements of their role, provide current information to managers, and create easily consumable visual reports.