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What Is "Culture as Code" and Why It Matters for Your Business

Published at

Wednesday, 3 July 2024

by Justas Giniunas

"The expanse of our project's infrastructure is raising concerns for maintainability" – sound familiar? 


It is the ever-changing scope of projects that go beyond our comprehension, forcing us to take a step back and look over the available options. For most cases, the obvious answer is – "Infrastructure as Code!" But we say – why stop here? Other key parts include Configuration, Policy, Access, and many more. "Culture as Code" embraces the mindset of structuring an entire project based on code rather than manual implementations. 


Ready to explore the significant perks and challenges that await (and yet are totally worth the effort)?


Unlocking the Power of "Culture as Code": Key Benefits for Your Business Projects

Structuring your project entirely with code can address many issues down the line, especially once the project reaches the maintenance phase. This approach not only enhances clarity and consistency but also streamlines various processes, making your project more scalable and manageable. You can unlock numerous benefits by embracing a "Culture as Code" mindset. 


Here are a few key aspects to consider.


Code Equals Documentation

Most code bases can serve as perfect documentation for new project members. Declarative language models especially prove this point, taking Terraform as an example. Resources, defined in the HCL standard, are easy to read, understand and visualize. 


Even if the written code is not "self-explanatory", there are many tools that generate the documentation automatically, based on the written code. 


What’s in it for you? This not only saves time but also ensures that the documentation is always up-to-date with the latest code changes.


Faster Support Response

Having a well-defined access management structure and automation to support it, creating users or granting access can be as simple as a few clicks. Inventory management is also a simple process because all the details are stored in your repository and defined in a chosen configuration language.


What’s in it for you? Streamlining these processes not only reduces the time and effort required for support tasks but also minimizes the risk of errors. This leads to faster issue resolution, higher productivity, and a more efficient workflow. By automating routine tasks, your team can focus on more strategic activities that drive business growth.


Enhanced Reusability and Sharing

Embracing "Culture as Code" will show its perks once some infrastructure components have to be replicated within the same project's scope or within an entirely different project. It is normal to forget "how things were implemented," but having it written in code will easily remind you of the implementation and save your colleagues time.


What’s in it for you? This approach promotes consistency and efficiency, allowing you to quickly duplicate successful implementations across projects. It reduces the learning curve for new team members and ensures that best practices are maintained, leading to more reliable and scalable solutions.


Time and Cost Efficiency

It is well known that the initial implementation by code will cost more than doing it manually, but it will pay off in the future. Of course, there is a tendency to think that "we won't change it in the future", but as practice shows, the infrastructure, configuration, or ideas change over weeks, sometimes even days.


What's in it for you? Writing the full project lifecycle in code (and automating it) will prove useful for design changes, migrations, or even as a blueprint for other projects. This approach reduces long-term maintenance costs and makes your system more adaptable to change, ensuring your business can pivot quickly and efficiently when needed.


Embracing a "Culture as Code" mindset ensures clarity, efficiency, and up-to-date documentation, making onboarding and knowledge transfer seamless. Automating support processes reduces errors and boosts productivity, while reusable coded infrastructure promotes project consistency. 


Simply put, this approach saves time and money, making systems more adaptable to change and ensuring your business can quickly pivot when needed.


By the way, these advantages make transitioning to the cloud a strategic move for long-term success.

 

Overcoming the Challenges (Well Worth the Effort!)

Embracing "Culture as Code" will also come with great challenges that must be faced head-on. Getting ahead of the curve—these hurdles are manageable and well worth the effort for their benefits. From handling constant updates to managing confusion and initial manual interventions, each challenge requires a proactive approach and a willingness to adapt to an evolving IT landscape.

 

  • Updates and deprecations: The ever-changing IT landscape will force you to update the code base regularly. Whether it's Infrastructure as Code or Configuration as Code, changes will come, and a project is never actually completed if it lives within the Cloud.


  • Confusion: "Culture as Code" improves the project lifecycle in terms of time, money, and optimization, but it sometimes lacks information. Some code bases are hard to read and understand, even with automatically generated documentation. It's important to perform "sanity checks" and peer reviews before implementing complex mappings just to grant "Read" permissions to an engineer.


  • Workarounds: It’s no secret that working with legacy products might require workarounds to implement a solution entirely based on code. This can be challenging as certain activities are not code—or automation-friendly.


  • The beginning: Not everything can be written in code or automated to the point where the project just "builds on its own." Initial steps, such as purchasing a subscription or implementing a storage unit, often require manual intervention due to "chicken-and-egg" problems. 


Despite these challenges, the "Culture as Code" mindset is essential for today's and future projects. From cost savings to time optimization, structured documentation to automation-friendly workloads – it has it all. Start creating your projects based on code and forget about most of the manual work and information gaps.


Seeking to fully leverage the benefits of a "Culture as Code" mindset? Consider transitioning to custom cloud software. Custom cloud solutions provide the flexibility and scalability needed to handle the complexities of modern business projects.


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