Scaling DevOps at the enterprise

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to scale DevOps at your enterprise, as well as the biggest challenges you will meet along the way

Although the goals of DevOps are all-inclusive and startups and SMBs are finding success with it, for large enterprises it may be a much greater challenge to introduce. Despite the adoption gap between SMBs and enterprises narrowing, with the level of adoption at enterprise now only 20% below that of smaller businesses (ESC Digital), many enterprises are still holding back.

The challenges of scaling for enterprises

Why should enterprises scale DevOps? The best answer to this question was given by Gary Gruver in his book “Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise”. Gruver says that the goal is “to document, prioritise, and optimise existing deployment pipelines and seek efficiencies to deliver better business outcomes.” Yet, scaling at an enterprise can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. We can identify two main challenges that enterprises are facing when scaling DevOps, unlike smaller organisations.

DevOps demands a change in enterprise culture

The biggest hurdle when scaling enterprise-level DevOps is that it often demands a complete change in the corporate structure. This doesn’t have to do with employees themselves, who are usually okay with embracing DevOps and its principles, but with the system ingrained in the enterprise. Therefore, the enterprise management will have to change the system and bring in a new one that can support the new culture. Without this, it won’t be possible to scale.

DevOps requires optimisation

Another challenge is to identify where exactly enterprises should optimise. To answer this question, it’s important to look at some of the problems faced by large enterprises. These include slow approval processes, over-reliance on meetings, too much manual effort in developing, testing and deploying applications and not understanding business needs completely.

As a way to improve efficiency and mitigate the most of these and some other problems, enterprises need to start automating. This will help them reduce manual efforts on the one hand, and boost deployment frequency on the other hand. The result is spending less time on mundane and repetitive tasks and more on creative ones.

How to find success for enterprises

Despite the challenges and some other problems, such as having a change management process for every release, or having releases across several departments at the same time, many large enterprises are still finding success with DevOps.

What is their secret and how can others replicate their success? The answer lies in these 7 steps:

1. Ask why not just how

Most enterprises focus on the “how?” aspect when trying to adopt DevOps into their structure, but then completely forget the “why?”. For instance, why you automate your testing is more important than how you are doing it.

2. Measure effectiveness

DevOps is not just about faster software development. In addition to this, it enables feedback between different departments. The left-hand needs to know what the right hand is doing. Neither development nor design or product management is supposed to work in a vacuum. They all need input from the other two.

3. Say goodbye to corporate policies that separate Dev and Ops

In large enterprises, there are often walls between development and operations. If DevOps is to be adopted, these walls need to be taken down, with communication easily flowing to and fro.

4. Bring Dev and Ops closer together, not further apart

The whole point of DevOps is to unite Dev and Ops and make them work as one unit, not to create an even bigger rift between the two. DevOps doesn’t mean at all that IT managers should lose their jobs because of automation.

5. Make sure everyone is in the same team

Continuing in this tone, everyone in the enterprise, not just the development and IT, need to realise that they are all working toward the same goal. This goes especially for those departments that are, strictly speaking, outside of DevOps.

At the same time, as enterprises are often present in different countries, even on different continents, it’s important to get employees who are this geographically dispersed to communicate and collaborate in order to scale in their enterprise.

6. Use third-party DevOps service providers

Often enterprises, especially while still adopting DevOps, need some time to get on the right track. This process can be slow, so it’s a good idea to use third-party suppliers.

7. Share progress

The key to success or failure often lies in communication and sharing information between departments. This includes sharing the progress, which can simply include giving progress updates in a chat.


Enterprise-level DevOps works differently than in startups and SMBs. Often, we are talking about huge environments, where making even a small change in the system may take weeks or even months to be fully implemented. Not to mention that it is not that easy to introduce changes, as even the smallest ones need to go through a change management process.

Also – take a look at 3 steps to prepare your organisation for DevOps

Neil How
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Neil How

Neil ran his first SAP transformation programme in his early twenties. He spent the next 21 years working both client side and for various consultancies running numerous SAP programmes. After successfully completing over 15 full lifecycles he took a senior leadership/board position and his work moved onto creating the same success for others.

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