January 5th, 2018

7 DevOps Challenges for Public Sector to Overcome

Given the frequency in which the technology industry discusses the trends and developments of DevOps, it would be safe to assume that the software engineering practice has been widely accepted across industries. However, that’s not the case.

The modern software engineering culture, DevOps, serves as the collaboration of both the Development and Operations teams working together as one cohesive team creating a faster, more efficient and reliable delivery system. Saying you’re interested in DevOps is like saying you’re interested in change, which is where the hesitation lies.

As we all know, change can be complicated and scary. Before your organization transitions to an agile culture, it’s best to prepare for the likely DevOps challenges that may lie ahead… And DevOps offers no shortage on challenges. Such as overhauling processes, communication patterns, departmental structuring, and shifting roles/responsibilities, to name a few. Like many new approaches, taking on a DevOps methodology can seem like a daunting task, especially in the Public Sector space, where the culture relies heavily on a traditional way of doing things. Unless an organization is willing to let go of old habits, the transformation to DevOps can be a difficult one.

In order to succeed at DevOps, it is important to know what you’re up against. We’ve identified the top seven DevOps challenges Public Sector faces as of today:

1. Approval times for “Authority to Operate”

Public Sector agencies that are following Government Cloud Computing Initiatives and trying to leverage DevOps tools and resources on Cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services, are more concerned with Data Security and safeguarding Personal Identifiable Information (PII). Migrating legacy delivery code pipelines, repositories, packaging tools and technologies in order to leverage DevOps best practices and benefits, needs approval from the Information Assurance groups, and all the protection measures, processes and controls are consolidated into the System Security Plan (SSP). Such approvals may take a significant amount of time to provide Authority to Operate (ATO), creating delays in the DevOps implementation.

2. Executive Management Support

In order to implement the DevOps methodologies and realize all the benefits it can provide to Public Sector, there needs to be a long-term vision in place. As well as substantial support from the Executive Management Team (CxO Level). In order for this to be successful, this support must be extended through the initial duration of the new cloud-based platforms and continued throughout the new enterprise culture.

3. Minimal Dependency on ROI

Public Sector is not primarily driven by the concept of monetary ROI, so it can be more difficult to quantify the advantages that Agile and DevOps bring to the table. Since data security and PII safeguarding are of the utmost importance, it can be more difficult to explain the long-term benefits and to provide acceptance of the increased initial effort to authorize new cloud based platforms.

4. Information Security Policies

Using untested third-party open source tools and frameworks for packaging may require frequent approvals from the Information Security teams. As a result, this may delay organizations from leveraging the benefits DevOps tools present.

5. Limited Agile Workforce

Public Sector organizations may have a very limited agile workforce due to teams comprised of contractors from various vendor’s working together in part with government Project Managers in traditional software development models (e.g. Waterfall). Subsequently, both the vendors and the government supervisors may not be well versed in Agile and DevOps methodologies. Planning for such a situation could add additional time, effort, cost and various complexities to the transformation task at hand.

6. Coordination and Shared Responsibility

At times, there may be Public Sector Program Managers overseeing multiple programs, which may require working with various vendors at a time. The disparity in the technical and contractual practices, together with SL’As between separate vendors, can prove to be a challenge for the implementation of a unified DevOps culture. Leading to an increase in the efforts required for an enterprise-wide DevOps adoption to occur.

7. Change Management

The adoption of new processes, procedures and cultural changes needed to implement DevOps may be challenging due to unforeseen budget limitations within an organization. With any new adoption, there are new tools to introduce, architectural changes to be made, and new skills to be developed, all of which has a cost associated with it. In order for DevOps to be successful, the initial transformation relies heavily on the availability of the training and coaching sessions offered to create awareness of the concepts and benefits Agile and DevOps presents.

So, how can your organization overcome these DevOps challenges? To start, you may want to read our “DevOps: It’s A Culture, Not  A Tool” blog, where we give you insights into how to prepare your organization for your DevOps transformation. Despite these challenges, DevOps can be the catalyst for a number of improvements to the Public Sector space, from increased productivity to enhanced efficiency. 

Tags: agile cloud computing DevOps public sector security Software engineering

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