Innovative Silicon Valley companies like Etsy leverage DevOps and Continuous Delivery practices to achieve new levels of automation and agility, shrinking development lead times and deploying to production many times each day. However, many companies struggle to implement these practices for the legacy systems that run their core business. To make matters worse, the agile community offers relatively little practical guidance for implementing DevOps practices in legacy environments. Fortunately, the Kanban Method provides a practical way to gradually evolve these core systems towards DevOps nirvana—without turning your organization upside down, and even if you don’t have a massive budget.
Through a case study involving a criminal justice system for a US government agency, we will examine how the Kanban method helps us identify and remove the barriers that prevent us from implementing DevOps automation for legacy systems. Just as importantly, Kanban provides the means to measure the efficacy of our efforts, prompting us to course-correct when necessary. Both technology-related and human-related concerns will be addressed. We will review some interesting examples using the Microsoft technology stack, and these lessons can be applied to Java, LAMP, MEAN, or any other set of technologies. The end result is better quality and collaboration and faster delivery of value to our stakeholders. Perhaps it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks, after all.