In a world where customers aren’t short of options, all businesses are characterized by the need to achieve customer delight. From a technological standpoint, a large part of that hinges on fast-tracking the release of high-quality software. A release every quarter is being replaced by a release every week and sometimes even sooner. Expectations have skyrocketed while the timelines have shrunk even more. It is now imperative for all the different components to sync together effectively to create a competitive advantage for the business that can be sustained over a period of time.
All the water-cooler talk around DevOps notwithstanding, it’s true identity still varies vastly based on the passionate opinions of participants with varied schools of thoughts. It also bears mentioning that while all of their varied opinions carry a sliver of truth, they also are significantly separated from the heart of the matter.
To better understand the situation, let’s jump into a story: Once upon a time there was a monk who owned a Ferrari and had no interest in selling it. Every morning when the monk left to teach his mindfulness class, there were three blind men who were captivated by the sound of its engine and the smell of burning rubber. And, yet, they couldn’t see the very object that had captured their fancy. So, one fine day they decided to touch the Ferrari and exchange notes.
The first man touched the broad wheels of the Ferrari and exclaimed that it was a large contraption made of soft rubber. The second man ran his hands across the exquisite curves of the car and said it was like an ancient Greek statue, while the third one placed his hand on the Ferrari’s windows and concluded it was a moving glass palace on wheels. Although each was right in his own way, none came even remotely close to capturing the essence of a Ferrari.
By now, you don’t need a monk to tell you that the story of DevOps is very similar. For some, DevOps is all about inculcating the right culture so that different groups can work together seamlessly to achieve a unified goal. For others, it is about establishing the right processes and practices that are in sync with an organization’s business goals. And for those with an axe to grind or proprietary tools to sell, DevOps is all about achieving automated nirvana.
However, the ground reality is that software development teams constantly are facing increased pressure from business leaders to deliver faster than ever before. The business leaders, in turn, are under the hammer of market forces that require them to accelerate or die. The need of the hour is to deliver high-quality software at the rate of knots, while untangling any that might impede the time to market.
We at Happiest Minds believe the simple approach to DevOps is one that is “continuous” and at its core has the agile mantra of “people over processes and processes over tools.” The idea of continuously evolving and adapting to changing requirements and demands has been captured in what we call the 7Cs of DevOps:
The main objective is to ensure agile delivery by embracing continuous planning, continuous development, continuous Integration, continuous deployments, continuous testing, continuous monitoring and continuous feedback.
However, the cultural component of DevOps cannot be overemphasized. A large part of the success or failure of any DevOps engagement depends upon how willingly it is embraced within an organization and the kind of executive sponsorship it receives from the powers that be. The three widely recognized cultural models that most organizations come under are pathological, bureaucratic and generative. Needless to say, organizations that are riddled with a pathological or bureaucratic culture are likely to experience the least amount of success with DevOps because such organizations tend to cover up failures and eventually pin them on the most susceptible scapegoats.
The breeding ground that DevOps needs to flourish is a generative culture where information is shared freely and openly, the leadership encourages employees to learn and experiment with new ideas and failure isn’t looked at as the end of the world but rather an opportunity to learn and grow.
Eventually, organizations will have to embrace DevOps as an integral part of their strategy and not just as a liberal, forward-thinking experiment that scores them some brownie points. But it will take some doing, both at the grass roots and in the board rooms. One has to remember that a lot of people are easily attracted to a Ferrari, but perhaps not to the grind that goes into owning one.
The idea of having a successful DevOps program is much the same—it’s not just about engaging the best vendor or choosing the right tools or paying lip service to creating the right culture; ultimately, it requires overcoming organizational inertia, resistance to change and making a long-term commitment to the philosophy that takes a larger view of how DevOps can help businesses stay one step ahead.
About the Author / Arsalaan Kashif
Arsalaan Kashif is associate director of Marketing, Product Engineering Services at Happiest Minds Technologies and has a keen interest in all emerging areas of technology and innovation. Having worked with Unisys, Oracle and HCL Technologies for over a decade, he has experience with taking to market products and services across areas as diverse as application services, cloud computing, DevOps and big data analytics to name a few. Outside of work, Arsalaan enjoys watching noir films and reading John Irving classics. Connect with him on LinkedIn.