DASA - introducing a framework for DevOps success

by Bill Ross on 16/08/2019 12:00

Equinox IT Principal Consultant Bill Ross presenting on DASA DevOps frameworks at an Equinox IT client event

DevOps is widely recognised for improving IT's ability to deliver more business value faster. But we often see DevOps applied incorrectly or inconsistently and there is confusion around the competencies and skills required for successful DevOps.

Equinox IT recently became a DevOps Agile Skills Association (DASA) Forerunner Member and Training Partner.

This last week I have presented two events to our Wellington clients on the DASA DevOps Competence Model and how this can be applied within organisations to develop the required DevOps skills and knowledge for teams and IT professionals.

In this post, I summarise a few of the points from those presentations.

What is DevOps and why does it matter?

The goal of DevOps is to shorten the systems development life cycle while delivering features, fixes and updates frequently in close alignment with business objectives.

Over decades there has been a trend towards faster, cheaper, low-risk IT delivery. This has moved from mainframes in the 1970s and 80s where cycle time was long, cost was enormous and failure risked the whole organisation, to today where cycle times are short, cost can be managed to small iterations, and failure may only risk a single product feature.

DevOps is a response to the perfect storm formed by the coming together of:

  • IT infrastructure centred around lightweight container technologies such as Docker or Kubernetes
  • Public cloud solutions that allow organisations to go cloud-native
  • Agile software development approaches where 'done' equals 'live in production' and 'infrastructure as code' is realised
  • Modern architectures where fine grained micro-services replace monolithic applications
  • Continuous delivery where automation makes it possible to deliver change into production frequently.

Digital business models, power by these modern technologies and approaches require IT teams to work in new ways. This includes breaking down the long-lived divide between development and operations, where development has historically been about change and operations has been about stability.

Equinox IT Principal Consultant Bill Ross presenting on breaking down the development-operations divide

Scrum and the Agile Manifesto are not specific on Development Team skills

Scrum is not a competency model and The Scrum Guide goes only as far as saying that Development Team members may have specialised skills. It does not elaborate on what those skills are.

The Agile Manifesto has a value of 'Individuals and interactions over processes and tools', but with the benefit of hindsight those involved in Agile projects would today see it more as 'Individuals Competent teams and interactions over processes and tools'. This highlights the needs for suitable skills and teamwork to make Agile and DevOps successful.

Furthermore, Gartner Research shows that organisations have focused too much on Agile productivity and scaling and too little on building Agile skills and practices, leading to problems of scaling before having a solid foundation.

DevOps Agile Skills Association (DASA) focuses on skills

DASA is an independent and open, members driven association supporting the development of DevOps training and certification to the global market.

DASA have developed a DevOps Competency Model, which encourages organisations to move from a specialised role-based view of skills to a multi-skilled team-based view of skills.

The model includes eight knowledge areas and four skill areas with competence levels from novice through to master.

The eight knowledge areas are:

  • Business value optimisation
  • Business analysis
  • Architecture & design
  • Programming
  • Continuous delivery
  • Test specification
  • Infrastructure engineering
  • Security, risk & compliance.

The four skill areas are:

  • Courage
  • Team building
  • DevOps leadership
  • Continuous improvement.

DASA DevOps Competency Model

Equinox IT Principal Consultant Bill Ross presenting on DASA DevOps Competence Model at an Equinox IT client event

DASA also have a DevOps Certification Programme that runs against their Competency Model.

With their team-based approach, DASA position that all team members should have a base level 2 competence across all eight knowledge areas and all four skill areas. The 3-day DASA DevOps Fundamentals Certification course is designed to provide this level 2 competence. Equinox IT as a DASA Training partner provides this course and plans to offer other courses from the DASA Certification Programme in the future.

DASA DevOps Certification Programme

DASA also provide a DevOps Competence Quickscan which can be used as a self-assessment questionnaire to assess how you are performing against the DASA DevOps Competence Model.

Equinox IT Principal Consultant Bill Ross presenting on DASA DevOps Competency Model and levels of expertise at an Equinox IT client event

During the presentation I also covered the importance of culture and leadership in DevOps, and that is likely a topic for a future blog post.

Many thanks to everyone who attended the two DASA DevOps events. If you have any questions on DASA, the DevOps Competence Model, or the DASA DevOps Fundamentals Certification please comment below or contact me via the form on my profile page.

Bill Ross is a Principal Consultant based in Equinox IT's Wellington Office.

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