The coronavirus pandemic is forcing businesses to double down on DevOps transformation initiatives across the enterprise, pushing companies to be more agile and implement software changes throughout their organization at a much faster rate. However, too many IT departments rely on older, complex processes to approve software changes coming from DevOps teams and simply cannot keep pace with this accelerated rate. This is because many parts of the delivery process remain heavily manual, time-consuming and siloed. In other words, rather than realizing enterprise-wide transformations, the value from DevOps initiatives is remaining localized and doesn’t come close to delivering on the promise DevOps held in the first place.
But because of the profound and sudden changes to the way we work, the industry is reaching an inflection point. Increased demand and competitiveness for modern digital experiences and ways of working are forcing businesses (even those within highly regulated industries) to rethink how they build software and get it approved faster. The need is clear among developers to reduce time-to-approval for new features, yet organizations must remain steadfast in protecting the business against rushed features that may not contain the proper safeguards and could negatively impact business operations.
To help strike a balance during this critical time, a new trend to expedite software development and deployment is emerging: a platform-based approach to DevOps.
Driving Visibility With Platforms
The potential for platforms to streamline aspects of DevOps is profound. Platforms are able to model data and workflows to connect developers and IT continuously all along the development and delivery process. For example, the platform can leverage information from the flow to automate the manual and time-consuming change approval process, enabling them to release features rapidly and safely.
But the benefits of platforms transcend beyond workflows. The vast number of tools used by developers and IT makes it difficult for leaders to get a holistic view of how each team is performing. This lack of visibility slows the behavioral and cultural change needed to succeed with DevOps. However, with the system of record and engagement that the right platforms provide, stakeholders on both sides of a project can easily view and audit the release process, which means shorter development cycles, increased deployment frequency and more dependable, high-quality releases.
Companies, and even teams within the same company, are at many different stages of DevOps maturity. Some are fully adopting distributed teams based around products and simple development pipelines that make rapid, incremental changes, potentially multiple times per day. However, most organizations still have more complex releases that are still on a longer cadence such as weekly or monthly. Those releases may involve multiple teams and a wide range of development tools so again, the platform approach provides visibility and the ability to automate across the entire release.
DevOps at Scale
While many businesses are leveraging DevOps in various capacities, they have yet to be able to scale adoption across their entire organizations. This is the Achilles Heel for DevOps as a whole—after all, the goal with any transformative initiative is to scale, and traditionally DevOps has been difficult to scale past initial early successes.
The challenge in scaling DevOps is that while there are many tools at developers’ fingertips, the actual processes around audit, compliance, security and change management are still often performed manually, and many of the tools are disconnected, meaning fragmented data and, yet again, limited visibility across numerous teams within an organization. At a time when controls should be becoming more decentralized, with more operational parameters ‘moving left’ to the control of development teams, we are instead seeing delays during deployment, difficulty driving best practices and DevOps adoption across the enterprise, and a lack of trust across teams.
However, with a platform approach, the ability to scale is built into the technology since software approvals can be automated, enabling IT teams to allow more decision-making in development with appropriate guardrails. The IT teams can ensure the release of features rapidly and safely—and more importantly—focus on strategic, business-critical work.
Resolving Data Configuration Challenges With Platforms
In addition to unlocking visibility and scale with DevOps platforms, there’s a growing practice of leveraging platforms to improve configuration data. As companies shift to working in the COVID-19 era, they’re using more applications that require frequent updates. To ensure the applications don’t break in production, developers are automating application testing and deployment with platforms, allowing this process to occur earlier in the software delivery life cycle.
However, ensuring configuration data accuracy during this process can be challenging. By using a platform for developers to add and consolidate configuration data, users can better control the application environment, prevent issues in production and quickly correct post-deployment problems. All this is possible by integrating machine learning into the platforms to prevent incorrect configuration data settings from reaching production environments. The machine learning identifies potential misconfigurations earlier, before apps are moved into production, ultimately helping users avoid app and infrastructure deployment inconsistencies.
With platforms, developers can both improve the quality of configuration data and identify incorrect configurations using machine learning ultimately to prevent software changes from causing outages and incidents during a highly critical time.
The Bottom Line
The coronavirus pandemic has magnified the importance of agility and quickly adapting technology to meet changing customer and employee needs. As a result, enterprises are trying to figure out how to navigate and embrace new technologies that help ensure business resiliency. When done right, DevOps should help accelerate and scale this innovation, while still maintaining compliance and security. Adopting a platform-based approach to DevOps helps organizations reduce time-to-approval of new features so they can effectively drive digital transformation across the business—the North Star of all IT initiatives in this new work environment.