This month, I chose to share the findings of a TechRepublic’s recent survey on DevOps not only because it’s a bombshell within the IT community, but because it brings out two eye-opening facts:
- Seventy-eight percent of organizations haven’t fully implemented DevOps because “they don’t get it”
- Only 22 percent of organizations have merged their teams for managing infrastructure, operations and development
In other words, the message underneath is, “You must consider most DevOps success stories with a pinch of salt.”
The big question is, Why are all these DevOps implementation failures happening? That’s where I bring the answers most experts, including renowned thought leaders, for some reason won’t give you.
The findings of this vital survey shouldn’t leave you indifferent. Your company’s survival and growth depend on them. They’re recurrently raised in all the conferences and workshops I give. “We deployed the automation toolchain; honestly, I don’t see the business value,” or “Making the business, development, testing and operations work together is an impossible challenge,” is all I hear all the time. The last time I had to address these complaints was at the Econocom’s DevOps Seminar in Toulouse, France.
The answers I provide result in the same reactions: Companies successfully change their DevOps vision and implementation approach.
Believe it or not, that’s my six-year experience advising on DevOps worldwide, as well as the observations of an increasing number of reliable IT industry analysts including Joe McKendrick and Jason Bloomberg. The three fundamental failure factors of DevOps implementation are:
- Either a lack of or unclear business objectives.
- Widespread misconceptions of DevOps including among thought leaders.
- Conflicting interests of the DevOps tools business.
Let me give you a few ideas that will either help you monetize your organization’s transition to DevOps or adjust your existing DevOps capability and make it profitable.
Unclear Business Objectives Result in Irrelevant DevOps Capabilities
Again, that’s my experience and the observations of many IT industry analysts, most DevOps initiatives are disconnected from any business objectives.
In all the workshops I conduct, the question, “What’s your business goal?” gets the same blurry answers: “Adopting DevOps is a must,” “We must automate our IT processes,” “Making our IT agile will make our business competitive,” “Speeding up delivery is a competitive advantage our business lines will like,” and “Automating our IT processes will do good to the business.”
What you must know is, these goals range from vague and fake to inappropriate and nonexistent. They primarily serve the IT department’s interests. Not the business.
The fact is, there’s a significant gap between business line expectations and the DevOps benefits as imagined by your IT leader peers and their associated vendors. The business looks to meet the challenges of the disrupted markets created by Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA, in the rest of the article)—competition which includes continuous innovation, accelerated time-to-revenue, cost reduction, low prices and market responsiveness. And the only help DevOps experts offer is the acceleration of applications delivery and the automation of IT operations. Is it enough? The answer is clearly no; it’s a drop in the ocean.
The GAFA are disrupting your company’s markets. The only chance to resist them is to adjust your business model to the new competitive constraints. Because they didn’t transform as their disrupted markets required, Nine West Holdings, the Bon-Ton Stores, Toys R Us, Remington, Southeastern Grocers and Tops Markets were all kicked out of business. Read what Business Insider’s Hailey Peterson said about it in a recent article.
I encourage you to involve your business lines in your DevOps project and agree with them on a clear business objective. Then, implement DevOps to enable that objective. Otherwise, that’s wasted time and more importantly, wasted investment!
The Secret of DevOps Has Always Been About How Well You Work, not Technology
This is something I hope you won’t doubt: Most experts including renowned thought leaders play on words to present DevOps as close to either an agile software development framework or a continuous delivery infrastructure (CDI). Let’s say it straight: That vision, now adopted by CIOs, is erroneous and has been taking thousands of businesses into the wall.
Adam Jacob’s article, “The Secret of DevOps, It’s Always Been About People, Not Technology,” provides from my perspective, the best definition of DevOps. It presents it primarily as, “… fundamentally about taking the behaviors and beliefs that draw us together as people, combining them with a deep understanding of our customers’ needs, and using that knowledge to ship better products to our customers.” But he makes it clear, “Tools matter. Make no mistake, trying to change the way you work without changing the mechanisms by which you do that work is a futile exercise in excruciating failure. But tools exist in service of the prime directive: building highly functioning, highly effective cross-functional teams, that attack your thorniest business problems as a unit, rather than as lone individuals or silos with competing incentives.”
What’s interesting with Jacob’s big picture is, it’s definitely business-oriented and takes into account value creation drivers such as the human factor, values and behaviors, processes and practices, cross-functional collaboration and, of course, technology. Every qualified IT leader should understand these drivers as the fundamentals of their company’s survival and growth.
So, shrinking DevOps to agile software development and Jenkins, Puppet and Docker, and thinking it will result in revenue doesn’t make sense. That’s the reason why the 78 percent of organizations in the TechRepublic’s survey failed!
Would you agree that to set up a profitable business, the most important thing is to deploy Jenkins, Chef, Docker? I hope not!
DevOps is about how well you mobilize your company’s assets— staff and skills, values and behaviors, processes and practices, tools and infrastructure—to make it competitive and wealthy. Adopting DevOps, particularly in today’s disrupted industry context, is primarily a business transformation effort. Nothing else!
If you don’t want to be part of the 88 percent of organizations that proved unable to merge their team for managing infrastructure, operations and development, like Adam Jacob’s article suggests it, tackle DevOps primarily as an agile business operational model. Otherwise, get ready to be among the next GAFA victims!
Preventing the Next DevOps Fiasco
I’m afraid the conditions for the next DevOps fiasco are in place. They have a name: The incredible power of IT vendors.
The incredible power of IT vendors relates to what Harvard’s strategist Michael Porter calls the “bargaining power of suppliers.” It’s the market or industry configuration where the domination of one company or a group of companies reaches a point where they can impose their views, products and services. IT vendors are exactly in that situation.
IT tools have improved productivity so much over the last 30 years that companies have come to believe that they can fix every business problem including innovation, agility and profitability. IT vendors, using massive marketing hypes, are taking advantage of the situation to make millions of dollars. Dollars aren’t the problem; it’s the poor ROI their clients get.
Will this TechRepublic’s survey help to prevent the next DevOps fiasco? Time will tell.
Your company’s priority is to survive the disrupted markets created by the GAFA. You won’t make it happen unless you definitely acknowledge that revenue, the essence of your business, is created as part of complex process that mobilizes across your company’s value chain, your staff and skills, values and behaviors, processes and practices and, of course, tools and infrastructure.
If DevOps can’t help businesses with what matters right now—survive their industry disruptions— it’s definitely useless!
As Chris Tozzi, suggests it, “The other main possibility for the post-DevOps world is that we’ll see DevOps extended into more and more parts of the business that are not directly related to the two core areas of DevOps practice, development and operations.”
Here’s a resource that tells you all about how to implement DevOps as the catalyst of your business competitiveness: “How to Yield Business Benefits with DevOps.”