What is Devops Maturity Model

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Oct 16, 2023

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Change is the only constant, and in today's digital world, the pace of change is accelerating like never before. New technologies emerge and evolve at breakneck speeds, and companies must adapt quickly to stay competitive. DevOps is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools. It increases an organization’s ability to deliver high-velocity applications and services. It is also helping companies ride this wave of constant change and disruption.  

An Introduction to the DevOps Maturity Model

The DevOps maturity model is a framework that helps organizations assess and improve their DevOps practices. It defines a progression from ad-hoc, inconsistent practices to optimized, automated, continuous practices. The model provides a roadmap for organizations to advance their DevOps capabilities in a structured way.

As organizations progress through the maturity levels, they achieve greater agility, reliability, security, and organizational learning. The DevOps maturity model helps organizations:

  • Establish a baseline to understand their current DevOps capabilities.
  • Identify specific areas of improvement to work on. 
  • Adopt best practices to advance to higher levels of maturity.
  • Drive continuous improvement to achieve DevOps excellence.
  • Realize the many benefits of DevOps, like faster delivery, higher quality, improved security, and lower costs.

The key to advancing in the DevOps maturity model is optimizing and automating processes wherever possible using a data-driven approach. Progress is made iteratively by making incremental changes and improvements over time. There are no shortcuts, and each level builds on the capabilities developed at the previous level.

While the DevOps maturity model provides a high-level roadmap, an organization's exact path will depend on its unique goals, culture, and technology stack. The model should be adapted as needed to suit the organization.

The Three Dimensions of the DevOps Maturity Model

For an organization to progress in the DevOps maturity model, it must advance in all three dimensions. Focusing on only one or two dimensions will limit overall maturity and benefits. Balanced progress across culture, automation, and measurement is the key.

The DevOps maturity model considers three critical dimensions:

1. Culture - The degree to which an organization has embraced DevOps principles and mindset. This includes fostering collaboration, inclusiveness, and affinity for experimentation and continuous learning.

2. Automation - The level of automation in the toolchain and IT processes. This spans continuous integration, continuous testing, infrastructure as code, automated provisioning, deployment, and monitoring.

3. Measurement - The ability to define, collect, analyze, and optimize key metrics and KPIs to guide decisions and business outcomes. Feedback loops are established to drive continuous improvement.

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DevOps Maturity Model Levels

Most maturity models, including the DevOps maturity model, define five levels of maturity:

Level 1: Initial 

Ad hoc, inconsistent practices, and siloed workstreams. Very little automation, and data is not shared effectively.

Level 2: Repeatable 

Basic DevOps practices are adopted but are still primarily siloed and disconnected. Minimal metrics are collected and used reactively.

Level 3: Defined 

DevOps practices are standardized across projects but still rely on manual processes. Key metrics are identified and tracked proactively. 

Level 4: Quantitatively Managed 

Automated toolchains and feedback loops optimize the development and operations processes. Metrics are used prescriptively to guide decisions and improvements.

Level 5: Optimizing

Continuous experimentation and improvement through ongoing monitoring and adaptation of processes and tools. Comprehensive metrics provide leading business indicators to optimize value delivery.

For a better and clear understanding, here is a summary of the key characteristics at each maturity level:

Level 1 (Initial): 

  • Siloed organizational structures and lack of collaboration 
  • Manual, ad hoc processes  
  • Minimal metrics, reactive not proactive  
  • Limited automation and tooling

Level 2 (Repeatable):

  • Emerging awareness of DevOps principles    
  • Basic practices defined but disconnected    
  • Minimal metrics tracked  
  • Some automation of build and deployment

Level 3 (Defined):  

  • DevOps practices standardized across projects          
  • Cross-functional teams forming          
  • Key metrics defined and monitored       
  • CI/CD toolchain in place but still quite manual   

Level 4 (Quantitatively Managed):           

  • Automated CI/CD pipelines and feedback loops  
  • Prescriptive use of metrics to guide improvement   
  • Broad adoption of DevOps practices and mindset  
  • Cross-functional teams the norm

Level 5  (Optimizing):  

  • Continuous experimentation and adaptation  
  • Comprehensive metrics provide predictive insights  
  • Highly automated systems 
  • Mature DevOps culture focused on value and outcomes

How to Assess Your DevOps Maturity

The first step to advancing in the DevOps maturity model is honestly assessing your current level of maturity. This assessment establishes a baseline to build upon and identifies the most significant opportunities for improvement.

The DevOps maturity assessment process, tools, and techniques you use are less critical than creating buy-in and an honest willingness to evaluate your current practices objectively so you can systematically build from there. Teams should go into any assessment with a growth mindset, not seeking to prove a preconception.

There are a few ways to conduct a DevOps maturity assessment:

  • Surveys

Circulating surveys or questionnaires is a simple way to poll stakeholders and team members. Questions should map to the key dimensions and characteristics at each maturity level. 

  • Audits

Perform audits of your practices, processes, metrics, and tools against the criteria for each maturity level. This requires analyzing each dimension in detail. Gap analysis can uncover areas to focus on for improvement. 

  • Benchmarking

Compare your organization's DevOps practices and metrics to industry benchmarks. Look at high-performing organizations in your industry or sector that are recognized as DevOps leaders. This can motivate teams and set goals to work towards.

  • Consulting

Hire an objective third-party consultant who specializes in DevOps and maturity models. Skilled consultants can analyze all aspects of your DevOps program and determine a current and target maturity level. They provide recommendations tailored to your needs and objectives.

  • Continuous Assessment

Don't assess maturity just once. Evolve your assessments to monitor progress over time. Use a combination of ongoing surveys, internal audits, benchmarking, and possibly consulting to understand both year-over-year progressions as well as current strengths and weaknesses. Continuous assessment, like any DevOps practice, enables continuous improvement.

Using the DevOps Maturity Model to Drive Continuous Improvement

The ultimate goal of assessing your DevOps maturity is to determine practical steps you can take to advance to higher levels of maturity so you can achieve better outcomes. You can set short-term and long-term improvement objectives with an accurate view of your current baseline.

Focus on integrating DevOps practices, increasing automation, expanding metrics, and continuously reviewing and improving processes. Staying stagnant is falling behind. Some key areas to drive continuous improvement in the DevOps maturity model include:  

  • Breaking down silos through improved communication and cross-functional collaboration. Foster an affinity for experimentation, learning, and adaptation.  
  • Progressively automating builds, tests, deployments, infrastructure provisioning, and release processes. Aim for continuous integration and continuous delivery.  
  • Identifying key metrics, establishing monitoring, and synthesizing data to provide meaningful insights. Evolve reactive metrics into a comprehensive set of leading indicators. 
  • Reviewing and optimizing toolchains, workflows, and feedback loops. 
  • Migrating from on-premises systems to cloud infrastructure for greater scalability, availability, and flexibility. 
  • Upskilling teams through ongoing education, training, and mentoring. Aim for T-shaped, full-stack skills.
  • Assessing how practices, automation, and measurement can integrate with and amplify business goals like user experience, customer satisfaction, and productivity. 
  • Continually evaluating opportunities to streamline value delivery further as new tools and technologies become available. But avoid changes solely due to technology hype.  
  • Celebrating wins, recognizing milestones achieved, and promoting the benefits of progressing in your DevOps maturity journey. Repeat success.

Continuous DevOps improvement requires persistence and patience. But with each step up in maturity, an organization becomes more agile, reliable, secure, and able to pivot faster to opportunities and overcome obstacles. Progress breeds progress, so start now by taking an honest assessment of your DevOps maturity and establishing your roadmap for the next level up. The future is coming - ensure your organization is ready to ride the wave of change. Not just to survive but to thrive.

DevOps Training and Certification

Education and certification can benefit individuals and organizations looking to advance their DevOps maturity. DevOps training and certification programs provide structured guidance on the latest tools, practices, and skills needed for DevOps success.

Some of the leading DevOps certifications include:

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional

For those specializing in AWS deployment and management. Requires a minimum of two years of hands-on experience with AWS and DevOps practices.

CAMS Certified DevOps Foundation

Vendor-neutral certification that focuses on core DevOps principles, practices, and tools. For DevOps engineers and practitioners with at least one year of experience. Offered through the DevOps Institute.

Professional Scrum Developer (PSD)

For software development professionals seeking recognition of their knowledge of Scrum and DevOps practices for sustainable growth and progressive improvement. Requires demonstrated experience working on cross-functional DevOps teams. Offered through Scrum.org.

Jenkins Engineer

Certifies the skills and knowledge needed to automate and streamline software development processes with the Jenkins CI/CD platform. For CI/CD engineers and DevOps practitioners with 1-2 years of Jenkins experience. Offered through CloudBees.

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DevOps certifications provide external validation and recognition of an individual's skills and experience with relevant tools, platforms, and practices. For organizations, certifying staff in DevOps helps ensure a standard body of knowledge and a consistent set of competencies. Certifications like Devops courses, devops training, and devops certification can scale up overall team maturity and help progress in the DevOps maturity model.

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