The Conundrum of Adopting DevOps within Organizational Constraints

I wish I had a dollar for each time I’ve now heard, “we’re adopting DevOps, but we have to operate within the constraints of what the business is ready to accept.” Basically, this is becoming the battle cry of many enterprise IT professionals that are DevOps believers, but are stuck with the limitations of operating within a complex, political and immovable business structure. One on hand, it is very pragmatic to approach adoption of new methods, techniques, technologies, etc. on a small scale and then expand based upon success. However, what is the result of a DevOps initiative in which existing organizational constraints and bottlenecks continue to remain in place? If you’ve been in the business world for more than a few years you’ve probably already had the experience of having a really good idea only to come to the realization that implementation of that idea requires cooperation of another ...

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Detours Ahead: Overcoming DevOps Challenges

Saying that you’re interested in DevOps is another way of saying you’re interested in change. That’s what DevOps promises any organization. No matter the problems a company is trying to solve or the goals it’s trying to reach, DevOps depends on a willingness to embrace some big changes. Sure, it can help you streamline software deployments, but it requires shaking up a company’s usual processes and routines. As we all know, change can be complicated, so before your organization transitions to an agile culture, it’s best to prepare for the likely challenges ahead. Breaking Old Habits for Continuous Delivery Many of the procedures we follow at work each day are second nature, and what’s familiar carries a certain comfort with it. Even when we realize a more efficient process is within reach, old habits are tough to break. For an organization that employs hundreds, any change can be a challenge. ...

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Nationwide banks on DevOps to drive towards Continuous Delivery

The Financial Services industry is fast moving, highly regulated and customer-centric. The general perception in our industry is that any change in processes implies risk and delay, neither of which we can afford. But at the same time, we are faced by the mammoth task of needing to continually introduce new products and services to stay competitive and cater to the growing needs of our customers. This is unthinkable without a fast software delivery lifecycle, as our business is highly dependent on technology. The best way to accelerate software delivery in a complex, fast moving environment like ours is to adopt a DevOps approach. As a speaker at a number of events, I have discussed the ongoing transformational journey at Nationwide and shared our approach with other enterprises who want to understand how they can follow suit. I recently had the opportunity to co-present with Hayden Lindsey from IBM at ...

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Time-Sharing to Unicorns: The DevOps Problem Facing Enterprise IT

How did we in Enterprise IT get to this point? There’s a lot of talking and writing about the value of adopting DevOps but very little analyzing the problem domain we’re trying to correct. There are some schools that will say we can move forward without looking back, but I believe a key element of the dysfunction that faces many enterprise IT organizations can directly be attributed to their history and how they were formed. One of the clear lessons we can learn from businesses that we call “unicorns”–termed this because of their mythical capabilities as an IT organization that can deliver high quality software very quickly–is that they have very little friction in the process from ideation to operation. Startups and greenfield initiatives are practically operating in a vacuum relative to the amount of friction they encounter compared to operations around entrenched decade-old legacy mission-critical applications. In retrospect, this ...

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Waterfall to Agile to DevOps: The State of Stagnant Evolution

DevOps is all the rage. The hot IT buzzword intended to heal the expanding divide between development and IT operations is being used to sell a range of services and solutions to struggling development shops and enterprises, even though DevOps can’t be sold – it’s a cultural shift that nurtures under a strong leadership. Prior to DevOps, Agile methodology generated a similar hype that forced businesses to spend millions of dollars in revamping organizational hierarchy, deploying new solutions and hiring self-proclaimed expert consultants. The original values and principles of Agile development to deliver working solutions in small and iterative chunks were quickly forgotten. The methodology was only implemented during development phase and created backlogs for operation teams that failed to push product releases fast enough. ...

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The DevOps Scorecard

Mid-last year our team switched from doing Agile to doing DevOps. As we forayed into the journey trying to learn about DevOps and practice it at the same time,  a lot of questions arose in the team.  How was this different from agile and most importantly How were we going to be successful? That’s when we wrote down what would be the success criteria for our team: “Ship code frequently without causing a customer outage“. As the team matured we started evaluating a more granular way to track success.  Could the team mantra be broken down into quantifiable success metrics that could be represented in a scorecard? Based on our experience the DevOps scorecard should contain these 9 metrics to track DevOps team success: Deployment frequency: How often were we deploying code and getting new code in the hands of our customers? This metric should trend up or remain stable from week to week. Example: ...

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SDN has a lot to offer to DevOps

When discussing DevOps it’s natural to focus the attention on the one operations  team that focuses on application infrastructure. But when you start digging in to DevOps and its applicability to all four operations groups you’ll find that technological shifts in the network – like software-defined networks (SDN) – are just as important to the overall success of DevOps-related initiatives as the spread of software-defined operations going on across the application infrastructure. One of the intersections of network and app infrastructure operations is around speed. Not just speed of deployment of services supporting applications, which is critical, but also the resulting speed of the application itself. Application performance management (APM) is a less often mentioned concern of those looking at DevOps but it is one with which developers and app infrastructure operations alike are very interested in not just monitoring and measuring but improving. But here’s the thing: the relationship between ...

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Survey: DevOps gaining mainstream traction in IT today

New survey results released last week shows just how thoroughly DevOps has captured the mindshare of enterprises. Commissioned by Rackspace, the global Vanson Bourne survey showed that more than three-quarters of IT decision-makers are now familiar with the term DevOps and well over half of them have already implemented DevOps practices to some degree or another. And by 2017, that figure could go up by another 31 percent according to survey respondents’ plans. “This survey shows a real appetite for the kind of development and operational processes today’s digitally-focused businesses need,” said Chris Jackson, CTO of DevOps Services at Rackspace. Among those who have chosen the DevOps route, nearly half have already fully integrated their development team with their operations team and 38 percent say that integration is in effect for all of their applications. For the most part, the ops team has been the primary champions for these projects. ...

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Microsoft determined not to get left behind by DevOps

Microsoft is a massive company—a behemoth with a lot of inertia, and a lot of bureaucracy in place that make it difficult to adapt quickly. Under Satya Nadella, however, Microsoft is striving to re-invent itself, and—to the extent that it is possible—become more agile. For evidence of Microsoft’s new philosophy, look at how Microsoft is aggressively embracing concepts like open source and DevOps that used to be viewed as pariahs. I wrote recently about the partnership between Microsoft and Docker. Microsoft added support for Docker containers in the Azure cloud platform within Linux virtual machines earlier this year, but then it upped the ante by announcing that it will support Docker natively in the next version of Windows Server, and that it is working closely with Docker on an open source project to drive development of the Windows engine for Docker. “An important aspect of this announcement is the noticeable ...

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