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The potential for DevOps to accelerate your business

  • Posted on April 9, 2015

DevOps: The Potential There is quite a lot of hype around DevOps and most of it is rightly justified.  There are some things that you can do with DevOps that are practically impossible to achieve without it. By DevOps, I mean the culture of DevOps:  the collaborative or combined relationship between operations and development roles.  I also mean the fundamental disciplines that need to be mastered before you get to this point.  So, quite a lot of stuff is wrapped up in one word.

DevOps is a two-way street. On the development side, DevOps can deliver faster time to market and faster time to repair. On the operations side, DevOps can enable improved application insight and faster innovation.

Now, let’s be clear, some degree of improvement on these items can be achieved without fundamentally shifting how you operate and manage your IT teams, but a frictionless process and its ability to scale can only come when both teams work as one.

 

Dev to Ops: Achieving Continuous Delivery

Faster time to market and faster time to repair are the benefits of a well-functioning continuous delivery mechanism. When barriers between teams are removed, the deployment process can be fully automated and is practically seamless.

Continuous delivery is achieved by treating operational, maintenance and deployment requirements with the same level of priority as functional requirements. They should be considered from day one and built into the architecture of the solution and the approach to testing and acceptance. Furthermore, the expertise around deployment, operation and maintenance should be within the development team.  There are various ways to achieve this, but a one-team mentality (even if it isn’t one team physically) is what you’re aiming for.  Tools are also required, but I’ll let the vendors speak to their virtues.

If you consider what is required for an organization to accept into production a build that was in development a few minutes ago you can start to understand the scale of the cultural change DevOps requires throughout the entire organization. Continuous delivery calls for a level of trust that can’t exist without development and operational roles working together.

 

Ops to Dev: The Value of Information

Being able to get stuff deployed faster is only one side of the equation. You also need to have a good handle on how to fully exploit these capabilities. DevOps provides for this by channeling the right information to the right people directly from the production environment.  Information such as exception frequencies and times and nature of manual intervention can be fed back to the development team to improve the overall solution.

Because of the traditional distribution of responsibilities among development and operations, operations teams have largely focused on metrics and data that allow them to do their jobs and to keep the solution running and performing well. By building in these considerations, and the required expertise from the start, far more insight can be harvested from a solution than is currently possible. This insight not only helps to run the business through the use of technology, it also provides valuable feedback that nurtures the innovation pipeline.  Businesses can shift from what they think their customer wants, to what the data tells them they actually want.

 

Blurring of Performance Boundaries

The dichotomy between development and operations roles can be seen in the traditional attitudes toward change.  Development teams tend to champion change and look to move things faster.  Operations teams, with the primary goal of stability, are more change-adverse, with a sizable investment in the status-quo.  This can cause an inherent trust issue with one team, the antithesis of the other.

Without significant improvement in this relationship, there will always be a limit to the speed at which business can move and a restriction on the level of insight business can gain. Adopting a culture of DevOps moves to breakdown these barriers.  Merging roles and responsibilities with a one-team mentality focuses everyone's efforts on the single goal of business success.

If you’re thinking, “this high-frequency stuff isn’t for me,” I’ll address other benefits that DevOps provides almost everyone in my next post.

This blog post is part of a series about DevOps by author David Jobling. Check back to read the latest installment.

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