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Containing DevOps Tool Sprawl

The first few tools added value…

Organizations implementing DevOps start with a pilot project or team to test out the DevOps promise. They invest in a specific tool that appears to meet the needs of the initial project. Depending on the organization’s budget, management buy-in, and timeline, this initial round of tools may be open source, a specialized tool, or a software suite with growth potential.

…but soon, departments were buying additional tools.

As additional teams and projects buy into the DevOps goals, team members identify gaps in the original tooling. Perhaps the release cycle would be more efficient with an automated testing tool. They quickly go out and add a new tool to address this gap. Meanwhile, another team has standardized on a different toolset in the same space. These two tools each have their own strengths but do not work together seamlessly.

Too many tools create new silos.

These disparate toolsets create friction between teams. Developers, testers, operations reconfigure work to utilize their chosen tools. IT and procurement teams track software license usage across teams and attempt to negotiate multiple contracts to reduce costs, but they aren’t sure if capabilities are being duplicated across products.

It’s time to tidy up.

There’s no single answer for how many tools are “too many tools.” However, if teams are encountering friction or try to solve every problem with a new tool, it is time to evaluate your toolchain.

Learn from trends outside of the tech world. Capsule wardrobes focus on a few high-quality pieces that can be quickly combined (or boringly consistent, think the ubiquitous tech hoodie or black turtleneck), expediting morning routines and reducing stress so leaders can focus on more strategic goals. Marie Kondo’s Joy of Tidying Up does not insist readers get rid of all of their belongings, only that they evaluate how well those items fit within their lives. In the world of DevOps tools, buying higher quality items that pull double-duty could be replacing a series of small disparate tools with a more efficient suite that addresses multiple stages of the SDLC. On the other hand, your team may discover a single-purpose tool that does one thing really well that you can’t live without – in KonMari terms, that tool brings joy to your DevOps practice.

Two Consolidation Approaches

There are two main approaches to evaluating and consolidating your DevOps tools. The first approach inventories your current tools across all teams, identifies overlaps, and selects the best of what you have and asks the “losing” team to standardize on the selected tool.

The second approach maps your value stream and envisions your preferred process. The advantage of this approach is determining whether tools are automating the right activities to meet your business goals. Once you have a clear understanding of the end-to-end process, then select the right toolchains that facilitate handoffs between each stage.

Contact us for a tools assessment. ReleaseTEAM has experience across industries and company sizes, helping teams select the right tools while fostering a culture of collaboration.

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