DevOps is fast becoming the winning strategy needed to accelerate the continuous delivery of exceptional software without sacrificing quality and cost efficiency. With its focus on better communication, collaboration and feedback within and across development and IT operations, DevOps is gaining many fans – even in the business, where performance is seen as being directly attributable to its adoption.
I’d be the first to agree that buzz plus a liberal dash of hype follows any new tech trend. We’re seeing this big time with DevOps. Already it’s one of the most Googled tech trends.
Many vendors are washing and making ready their ‘DevOps products,’ while the #DevOps noise is shall we say, trending – we just love disruptive technology. If you have read the Puppet Labs 2014 State Of DevOps survey, organizationswith high performing DevOps teams were 2.5x more likely to exceed profitability, market share and productivity goals, and had 50 percent higher market capitalization growth over three years.
Don’t get me wrong I’m a disruptive tech fan too, but there’s a caveat – technology disruption is nothing unless it’s truly transformative– and that’s where I place DevOps. It’s not a technical nicety, but actually a business imperative for companies to thrive in an increasingly software-driven world.
Software applications are rewriting business. They’re no longer in the background ‘counting the beans’ and running the supply chains – they’re front and center – the mobile systems-of-engagement that shape your brand, delight your customers and, here’s really the cool part – disrupt markets.
Sounds great you might say, but there’s a problem– the traditional fixed speed limit on the super highway of business computing.
Enterprises have been stuck in the same gear for years maintaining large, complex/interconnected legacy systems. Mainly transactional and supporting complex business processes, the norm has been to change when only necessary (or forced to change?) – never exceeding the speed limit. Now however, consumerization of IT has dictated rapid delivery of software innovations. This requires a DevOps approach, where teams have a shared responsibility for not just keeping the lights on, but powering business.
Being able to increase pace is important, so too nimbleness. By making IT infrastructure more flexible and the instrument used to digitally engage and interact with customers, cloud drives business agility. But it’ll never realize its full potential if IT continues operating in silos using manual processes. This is why DevOps collaboration, shared processes and tools are so critical for harnessing the cloud – or using and an analogy – if cloud is the supercharged engine of business – DevOps is the fuel that powers it.
So with mobility and cloud computing being essential to a software-driven business, what additives do we need in our ‘DevOps fuel’ to spark agility and generate the greatest returns?
There are three big ones:
Agile Parallel Development
DevOps must reduce all elements of waste. This is a tough nugget to crack because existing IT environments generate tremendous inefficiencies. Often separate dev teams have to contend for physically constrained resources, with quality compromised by poor test data, shortcuts and bottlenecks. Testing especially is seen as IT’s “angry monkey”; something to be loathed, when in fact it should be a unified process that bakes excellence (functional and non-functional) into everything – from mobile apps and API’s to back-end systems – from dev day 1 and persisting right through to production.
With Agile Parallel Development and shifting testing earlier in the lifecycle, teams avoid delays in the development of high-quality code. Toolsets are important here, especially service virtualization, which by removing testing constraints reduces cycle-times plus prevents bugs finding their way into production. And, since business will increasingly engage customers across digitized multi-channels (mobile, API’s), teams will exploit real-time intelligence to test new ideas and experiments – pinpointing how functionality and performance converts to business gain.
Release delays are a classic business fail. Now, success depends on delivering a continuous flow of value from new mobile apps, APIs and software innovations. These types of services will be constantly enriched to capture new markets and customers yes, but they’ll also be operating within shorter windows of business opportunity – faster lead times mean everything.
For IT, this ‘quick or dead’ imperative means teams must challenge a culture based on avoiding change and fear-of failure by using Continuous Delivery processes and tools to accelerate and streamline complex, multi-tier releases; automating the testing, deployment and promotion of changes across all environments. Additionally, these processes should integrate other management requirements – for example, establish service-level monitoring and reporting with the application when released.
Agility must extend to operations. For too long we’ve been asking questions like – “how long can we go between failures?” or “who’s to blame for this problem service?,” but we should be asking – “If we want to increase customer conversion rates from our mobile app, what levels of performance are needed?” or “how can we detect and remediate performance problems before code reaches production?”
This shift requires Agile Operations – shared processes and tools that optimally manage applications, but also feedback intelligence to the extended team. For example, Application Performance Management should pinpoint operational problems faster, but also ‘gift’ development rich insights they can use to improve code quality. Furthermore, teams will leverage advanced analytics (like how, where and when mobile apps are being used) to drive just-in-time enhancements –that’s a new take on end-to-end– customer ‘engagement-to-experience.’
Business demand for software innovations is insatiable, and for good reason. Now the simplest mobile app experience or secure API can transform your business or screw it up completely.
By establishing a rampant innovation culture with DevOps and the right processes and tools, IT will not just meet expectations – it’ll be the spark for growth and innovation.
About the Author
Aruna Ravichandran is vice president of DevOps Solution Marketing and Management at CA Technologies, responsible for cross-portfolio solution marketing for DevOps across all product lines. Before joining CA Technologies, Aruna held several management positions in product marketing and engineering at Juniper Networks and HP. Aruna earned an MBA and master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University and holds a bachelor of science degree in computer science from Bangalore Institute of Technology. Ravichandran is on twitter @aruna13 and on Linked in