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DevOps Platform Teams

For organisations that want to move with speed & agility combining product teams with self-service platforms & modern operations could be the key to unlocking innovation.

DevOpsGroup - DevOps Platform Teams Diagram
DevOpsGroup - Platform Team

The practices that got us to where we are wont get us to where we want to be

The traditional approach for organising IT does not work in today’s fast paced, digital economy.  The creation of functionally aligned teams served to optimise the efficiency of particular tasks and not the delivery of value to our customers. ​

A modern approach to organisational design see’s organisations moving away from this functional alignment and towards a model based on:

  • Product teams not projects​
  • Self-service platforms​
  • Modern operations and SRE

As discussed here this approach is built around long-lived teams that are aligned to the things your customers value and is designed with speed and agility at it’s core.

DevOpsGroup - Platform Team Moving from Projects to Products

Moving from Projects to Products

Projects have been a staple of IT departments for many years but despite their popularity they frequently fail to deliver the promised benefits.  Focussing on delivering to ‘time’, ‘scope’ and ‘budget’ projects divorce teams from their customer and instead of focussing on doing the ‘right thing’ for the customer teams are driven to deliver against a pre-agreed scope. ​

A shift to product teams fundamentally changes this.  Product teams are long-lived, cross-functional teams that deliver a self-contained set of products or services aligned to something of value to a customer (internal or external).  By closing the gap between the team and the customer teams can understand what their customers wants and needs really are and focus on delivering a solution that will delight them.  Because these teams are long-lived (preferably for the entire life-cycle of the product or service) quality is improved as the team is responsible for (and benefit from) balancing features with operability requirements that deliver long-term stability.

DevOpsGroup - Platform Team Self Service Platform teams

Self Service Platform teams

Central to this model, and critical when you have more than a small number of product teams, is the concept of a self-service platform team.  These teams are like product teams in that they are cross-functional, long-lived and aligned to a customer value stream.  Where they differ however is that the services they offer are provided using a self-service pattern and their customers are typically internal.

DevOpsGroup - Platform Team Modern Ops and SRE

Modern Ops and SRE

The final piece in this model is the operations layer.  While lots of organisations who implement a ‘product-centric’ approach advocate or aspire to a ‘you build it you run it’ approach to operations as the number of teams scales the need for a central triage function and specialist operations may emerge.  This is especially likely as it becomes necessary to co-ordinate issues that span multiple teams.  This should not be a return the dreaded Dev-and-Ops divide we have been working so hard to get away from.  Product Teams remain accountable for the operability of their applications in production and are supported and empowered by specialist  Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) teams.  We discuss the role of SRE in more detail in this blog.

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