Putting the ‘ops’ back in DevOps: Keeping relevant and providing value for IT

DevOps is the new normal for rapidly delivering high quality software and, with software as the new face of business, speed and quality can determine success. However, integrating DevOps into your organisation can take some getting used to.

Despite initial challenges, the end result has a huge upside. Once DevOps is embraced and established, continuous testing and continuous release will enable you to confidently provide more up-to-date and reliable software to your customers. And that’s good for your business.

If you’re not part of the solution…

For both dev and ops, successfully implementing DevOps requires everyone to make some changes that aren’t always easy or comfortable.

What does this mean for development? Dev has to be willing to work with Ops early in the software development process and accept it is no longer the beginning and end of the creative process. While this might initially feel like intrusion, there is a plus side. DevOps enables development to get ideas to production more quickly and securely, while maintaining quality, which is critical for enterprises with a brand reputation to uphold. Further, they can understand the production life and impact of their code from the comfortable position of pre-production, reducing hair-on-fire moments for everyone.

What does implementing DevOps mean for IT ops? IT ops must be willing to create a partnership with development and testing to successfully integrate DevOps. It must accept it is no longer the end game, the command and control center of the app’s production life. On the plus side for IT ops this will enable continuous testing and release and it will eliminate the ongoing competition between itself and the lines of business that can lead to “do it yourself” or shadow IT, destabilising IT operations and defeating the promise of DevOps.

How can IT ops stay relevant?

IT can lead in breaking down the silos between development, testing and operations, creating a partnership in which the customer is everyone’s focus. To achieve continuous delivery and continuous testing, IT can work with development and testing to create standardized procedures and consistent test environments, letting everyone be a part of the solution.

IT can also take the lead in becoming knowledgeable about new tools and technologies that can simplify and enhance the work of all functions involved in the software delivery process.

Development tools include device simulators and IoT virtualisers to simulate devices and create the necessary environment in minutes and at significantly lower cost. They can create APIs better and faster with easy to use API point and click tools. Tools are available to simplify the often-complex processes of building microservice apps and using containers. Most importantly, development can build security directly into their dev and test cycles, creating more secure software and avoiding the need to make changes after release. Not only is it more difficult and time-consuming to correct security glitches after release but, when customers are the ones to discover the security glitch, it is detrimental to your business and brand.

Testing can use tools that run open-source tests against their app at scale and, by using analytics that provide behavior insights, can find out what the experience with their app is really like for customers.

IT ops will find that new tools and technologies are not just for everyone else. New technologies can improve and speed up the delivery of IT ops – automation for testing and deployment and cloud environments for provisioning – giving IT ops more time for strategic work.

Automation is uniquely positioned to assist IT ops. For configuration consistency and release normalisation, automation provides the speed and stability that ensures quality IT operations.

Cloud computing can create the environments that would cost a fortune and take forever to create in-house. IT infrastructure tools today can work across hybrid environments to provide the same level of insight and control as with an in-house infrastructure. Cloud computing can also help you rapidly scale up when acquisition or a sudden business boost, like a promotional sale, requires it.

In addition, IT ops tools are now available that have advanced analytics, such as AI and machine learning, built into them to better predict and remediate issues. For example, if an app’s performance is not up to par your monitoring tool will let you know but the tool with embedded analytics will let you know why. These learnings can be fed back to the development and test teams for faster remediation.

DevOps is proving its value for IT

The 2018 State of DevOps Report, by DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment), shows that the use of DevOps continues to increase across industries and continues to improve software delivery performance regardless of industry. The report benchmarks high, medium and low performing DevOps teams based on how they are developing, delivering and operating software and have identified striking differences between teams.

In the area of throughput, the highest performing teams deployed code 46 times more frequently and made changes to the code (from commit to deploy) 2,555 times faster. In the area of stability, the highest performing teams had seven times lower change failure rates and recovered from incidents 2,604 times faster.

Looking at these metrics from a customer’s standpoint, high performance teams deployed code on demand and took less than one hour to implement changes, compared to code deployments of one per week and lead time for changes of one per month or more for low performance teams. Similarly, high performance teams took less than one hour to restore service compared to between one week and one month for low performance teams. It’s not surprising that for the fifth year in a row, the report finds that software delivery performance is tightly tied to organisational performance.

In addition, high performance teams do much less manual work, having automated significant amounts of their configuration management, testing, deployments and change approval processes. The result is significantly more time for new, innovative work.

DevOps is a win/win

DevOps is an essential component of successful, transformed organizations and a win for both development and IT Ops. The benefits for IT teams, in particular, are proving to be significant as the 2018 State of DevOps Report shows.

IT ops teams needn’t “protect” their command and control function. By shifting left, earlier into the process of bringing software to market, you can take a leadership role in software delivery and better support your business in satisfying customer requirements. Embracing new technologies and tools such as automation, cloud provisioning and embedded, predictive analytics can simplify the job of rapidly deploying reliable, secure software, making you and your team a more valued partner and contributor to your business’ success.

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