DevOps and Support: Challenges and Benefits


by Roy Atkinson
April 29, 2016

In a new research brief, "The Scoop on Technical Support and Development," HDI assesses the existing level of collaboration between application development (Dev) and the support center (part of operations, or Ops).

Despite the large industry buzz in blogs, infographics, articles, and conferences, 40% of the respondents to the survey don’t really know what DevOps is or means; 18% have started adopting DevOps, at least in some areas. A mere 3% have DevOps fully in place. As for the reasons for not adopting DevOps, over one-fifth (21%) of organizations cited resistance from the development team; hence the emphasis on cultural shift in nearly all the DevOps literature.

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In the organizations that have fully adopted DevOps and have at least one year’s experience with it, there are many positive impacts beyond the expected increase in the velocity and frequency of software releases, including: 

  • Better communication with IT
  • Higher support team satisfaction
  • Better support capability for end users affected by new releases

In short, there are tangible benefits to extending DevOps beyond development, testing, and again beyond the systems administration area of operations.

It isn’t a big surprise to those of us who have worked in the support center to discover that in 74% of organizations, support is only notified when a new software release is operationalized (i.e., after it is released into production), often with little or no involvement before that.

DevOps Support Notification

Eighty-five percent of support organizations say this presents at least somewhat of a challenge; they are playing catch-up from the moment there is a new release. Additionally, only 23% of organizations report that they have formal processes in place to ensure that support is properly prepared for new releases. Every time there is a new release in most organizations then, support is essentially blindsided, often having to struggle to ramp up, rather than having plans in place for training on the new versions, and staffing support for any increase in demand that might occur.

Although 41% of organizations say they share knowledge in both directions between support and development, nearly one third (32%) say they do not share knowledge between the teams. This result truly reflects the all-too-common silos that exist within IT; developers don’t see the need to share what they learn with support, and support doesn’t see the need to share what they learn in supporting the work products of development.

There is tremendous opportunity here for the expansion of knowledge management, especially for the rapid sharing of information gathered via the Knowledge-Centered Support (KCSsm) methodology.

Taking things to the next step, change management, doesn’t seem too much better; only 8% of the respondents said that their change process is “working great.” The organizations with successful change management in place also have more involvement by the support teams pre-release.

change management improvement

If you would like to learn more about DevOps and how it can integrate with more traditional IT service management (ITSM), consider attending FUSION 16, where there will be a full offering of DevOps content.

KCS is a service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation .


Roy Atkinson is HDI's senior writer/analyst, acting as in-house subject matter expert and chief writer for SupportWorld articles and white papers. In addition to being a member of the HDI International Certification Standards Committee and the HDI Desktop Support Advisory Board, Roy is a popular speaker at HDI conferences and is well known to HDI local chapter audiences. His background is in both service desk and desktop support as well as small-business consulting. Roy's blogs regularly appear on HDIConnect, and he is highly rated on social media, especially on the topics of IT service management and customer service. Roy is a cohost of the very popular #custserv (customer service) chat on Twitter, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on December 9, 2014. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @HDI_Analyst and @RoyAtkinson .


Tag(s): change management, devops, knowledge management, KCS, ITSM, supportworld, support center

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