How DevOps teams can evolve to meet business demands

A figure-eight signifying DevOps teams, surrounded by abstract shapes.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

At a time of fast-moving technological change, leaders fall under increasing pressure to embed or improve DevOps teams and tactics within the workplace. 

However, amid a talent shortage, cost-cutting, and the challenges of modern application environments, changing culture from within can be tricky – especially when, as experts concede, there are many “egos” involved.

This doesn’t mean companies shouldn’t attempt the change, says James Harvey, CTO Advisor EMEA, at Cisco Observability. He believes moving DevOps teams from “adapting on the hoof” as they embrace cloud native tech to a more considered regime can be a clear positive. 

“Business leaders need to encourage new approaches, structures, and processes,” he says, citing how providing DevOps teams with the right tools and technologies to optimize application performance in multi-cloud and hybrid environments can ensure they prioritize actions based on business outcomes set by the C-suite. To achieve this, engineers must become more data-driven, correlating IT performance with business metrics.

Harvey suggests “closer alignment” between development, operations, and security teams to drive “scale and speed”. This requires the right platform plus embracing open standards such as OpenTelemetry and leveraging AIOps and business intelligence to speed up issue identification and resolution.

“This allows organizations to react quickly to changing market conditions and helps meet heightened customer expectations for brilliant, seamless digital experiences at all times,” he adds.

According to Dr Cat Hicks, VP of Research Insights at Pluralsight, 87% of employers struggle to attract and retain in-demand DevOps engineers. She explains one reason for this is because their roles are highly pressured, and leaders must recognize this or face the fallout.

“Workload for current DevOps engineers is high,” she says, “and with current economic challenges forcing businesses to reduce their headcount, teams are being asked to achieve more with fewer resources. 

Leaders should maintain morale in their teams and ensure staff aren’t headed for burnout to reduce staff turnover in DevOps roles.

“By keeping your current DevOps teams happy and supported, you’ll likely see an uptick in engineer-to-engineer referrals, creating an organic talent pipeline from outside your organization,” Hicks adds.

Improving education and upskilling for DevOps teams

Teaching the right skills early on in people’s careers is another key plank towards ensuring there are enough DevOps engineers to go around, warns Dr Hicks. 

“Now more than ever, developers will need the skills to evaluate and read through code,” she states. “As we automate more and more production code, strong and robust skillsets around evaluating code quality and testing for potential trade-offs will be important for developers to cultivate.”

“This can be achieved through online learning, coding bootcamps, and apprenticeships to build the “relevant experience”, Dr Hicks suggests.

However, there’s another warning for C-suites to heed. Ashley Kramer, chief marketing and strategy officer at DevSecOps platform GitLab, says “a reckoning” is coming in how companies measure the impact of AI on developers’ efficiency, showing whether productivity gains are “worth the risk and expense”. 

She argues: “Visionary companies will take a more strategic approach to how they measure efficiency or productivity gains, looking beyond pure output or individual metrics to assess their business impact.

“Forward-looking companies will shift away from simple output metrics (e.g., number of code commits) to metrics focused on tangible business value. Such metrics could include improved software quality and consistent delivery, faster time-to-market, developer happiness, and increased customer satisfaction.”

Michael Man, DevSecOps evangelist at software security firm Veracode, founded the DevSecOps London Gathering six years ago. The community now boasts 3000+ dedicated members and Man recommends the need to create a positive DevOps culture with “no silos between development and operations teams”.

“Creating this culture helps to build a shared sense of ownership and accountability over the entire lifecycle of an application, rather than dividing teams based on their individual focuses,” he says.

“A healthy DevOps culture can foster better communication and fewer handoffs between specialists. When the same team develops, tests, deploys, and manages the application in production, there is far less risk of issues falling between the cracks. It also allows organizations to break problems down into smaller, more manageable changes, implemented and tested incrementally with minimal risk.”

DevOps engineers need to understand both sides

Kelly Indah, security analyst at Increditools, suggests DevOps will “only grow in importance as software pervades every industry”. 

“Businesses need to deliver better apps faster than ever. Demand for DevOps skills is skyrocketing. Multi-cloud and tooling complexity make collaboration essential,” she highlights.

She believes DevOps can be simply explained across an organization as focusing on the fundamentals: “Breaking down silos through empathy and communication, collaborating across the software lifecycle, automating manual tasks, and iterating quickly based on user feedback.”

“Failures become learning moments, not crises,” she adds.

Other experts such David Brooks, SVP of Evangelism at Copado, describe DevOps as a “team sport that requires players skilled in their respective roles”. Alongside developers this encompasses product owners, scrum masters, testers, release engineers, infrastructure engineers, and security specialists, he explains.

For Claus Jepsen, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Unit4, DevOps only works when you integrate software construction and the operation of software.

“It is critical to merge these functions. That way the engineering team will have a far better understanding of concepts such as logging, traceability, and observability, which are key to the operation of software,” he says.

“If engineers have to deal with support issues for their software applications, they will soon grasp the need for resilience, observability, and predictability as they build out software product roadmaps.”

Jepsen adds governance is also key to ensuring the quality of software development and software architecture. “We began our DevOps journey in 2019, as we started development of the next generation of our enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. If you can use the DevOps team to integrate the development and operations teams then you can create a ‘you build, you run it’ mindset. 

“If you get this mindset shift right it is possible to build better products, expedite updates, create greater alignment between teams, and execute tasks more efficiently. This improves the experience for everyone.”

However, other experts concede there are disadvantages to DevOps culture. Damien Tournoud, CTO at, admits that when it works, there is a “continuous loop of improvement, development, testing, and deployment”. For instance, teams are “both putting out fires and innovating on new ways to prevent fires”.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t always the way it works,” Tournoud admits. 

“Rather than freeing up resources for more effective development, the focus has shifted more and more towards IT operations. Rather than a combined Ops and Dev team, you have an Ops team that occasionally dabbles in development.

“This is a big problem. When a DevOps team becomes more about Ops than Dev, skilled developers end up wasting time performing routine tasks when they could be doing something way more innovative. And as these skilled professionals are far from easy to hire right now, this waste becomes even more egregious.”

Jonathan Weinberg is a freelance journalist and writer who specialises in technology and business, with a particular interest in the social and economic impact on the future of work and wider society. His passion is for telling stories that show how technology and digital improves our lives for the better, while keeping one eye on the emerging security and privacy dangers. A former national newspaper technology, gadgets and gaming editor for a decade, Jonathan has been bylined in national, consumer and trade publications across print and online, in the UK and the US.