A recent survey by CA Technologies found Australian organizations are below par in terms of implementing measures to adopt and achieve successful DevOps strategies.
According to Ashok Vasan, vice president of DevOps Solutions Strategy at CA Technologies Asia Pacific and Japan, organizations are generally aware of the DevOps methodology and its value, but they either don’t know how to start or they’ve begun but then failed to move to rapid or broad adoption.
A lot of companies ask CA about the prerequisites for a successful DevOps adoption, he said. It needs to be considered as more than just an IT change, and success requires an understanding and acknowledgement that the business side must lead the transition.
Starting the DevOps Adoption Journey
The business perspective is about launching new products or services and gaining market share. To do that, companies will ask IT to not only deliver certain facilities, but deliver them quickly, so the business should see the adoption of DevOps as a first step in achieving those goals. If senior executives are looking at a particular strategic initiative, there is a greater possibility of getting the required resources across the organization, including IT.
Ideally, that first project will be relatively small, yet visible and significant to the rest of the organization.
It is important to establish a common set of goals and shared objectives, covering areas including development, testing, APIs, product management and product marketing. “Everybody needs to be measured in the same goal,” said Vasan.
Then it is time to look at the IT capabilities and activities needed to make it happen. Where are the bottlenecks? What can be automated? How should testing be performed?
The next step is to identify the weakest link in the existing product or service chain, and work to improve that. If the release process is the bottleneck, then automating that is a good early step to take. Vasan has seen speed improvements of 70 percent to 80 percent from the introduction of release automation.
One of the main reasons for the improvement is that release management can be a complex task, and automation reduces the incidence of errors, sometimes to the point of practically eliminating them. No errors means no time is wasted on remediation, so significant time savings are possible.
Reduced downtime is obviously a benefit to the business, but it can even pay dividends in terms of employees’ work/life balance. Making the release process quicker and smoother means there is no need to do it overnight, on weekends or during holidays.
Indeed, there is a very high return on automation efforts in general, he said. It is important to realize that it doesn’t matter how strong the rest of the links are: For example, even if the marketing people are doing everything expected of them, if a new app receives low user ratings, the organization has failed.
Successful DevOps Needs More than Tools
Back on the IT side, a technology platform should be designed and implemented so the people involved have the right tools, the right scalable technology and so on. A commitment to tooling is necessary to realize the benefits of DevOps, Vasan said. But it’s not just about tech, he warned, but rather a combination of the right processes, the right technology and the right people skills for successful DevOps adoption.
Where an organization is struggling to gain traction with DevOps, Vasan recommends making sure that the process really is business-led; checking that the right employees have been assigned and the right vendors and consultants engaged; ensuring good project management practices; using the lessons learned from initial projects to inform the rest of the organization (possibly by establishing a DevOps center of excellence to spread the word to other divisions and projects); and using an enterprise scorecard to help keep everyone on the same journey.
The rate of change demanded by today’s environment can be an issue for some organizations, said Vasan, but Australian banks have been very progressive and have done a lot to deliver world-class IT products.
Even outside of the banking industry, “there are pockets of [DevOps] excellence … that can serve as examples for others in Australia.” There are “exciting” things happening in the government sector, he added.
CA is working to pass on to a wider audience the experience and best practices developed by pioneers in the DevOps field. “We have seen how companies have started to work in all these [technical] areas, and we take these experiences to our customers.”