Where's the business value in DevOps?
The idea of extending “agility” from conception to delivery promises to improve IT’s ability to respond to business needs.
There’s a lot of noise out there about DevOps right now—and with good reason. With its goals of removing IT bottlenecks and putting the business back in charge of innovation speed, DevOps focuses on putting new ideas and tools into action faster and more efficiently.
Dramatically accelerating the entire development cycle, DevOps extends the agility of iterative software development through to delivery. Its methods include maximizing the efficiency of iterative processes and automating repetitive tasks. The movement remains ill-defined, though, as many advocates debate definitions or focus more on “out with the old” than “in with the new.”
Forget about what DevOps is and is not. Think instead about how its principles can yield meaningful results for your business. The first step is to look at your current IT portfolio and see where it makes sense to apply DevOps’ ability to deliver business value faster and smarter.
Volume, velocity and value creation
DevOps yields the greatest benefit for companies wishing to increase the volume and velocity of IT value creation. It’s all about driving more change and creating greater value—and doing so as quickly and efficiently as possible. Getting your teams focused on this concept is the first big step in transforming the application design and development process.
Next, think about how the DevOps model might work across your IT and operations teams.
Consider “IKEA for IT.” The world’s largest furniture store follows a model that offers key similarities to DevOps. IKEA’s designers, product managers and testers focus on a single goal each time they conceive a new product: Determine the ideal cost and quality, then make sure every step in the design, build and assembly process is as efficient, cost-effective and streamlined as possible. By automating repetitive tasks, removing unnecessary steps and tests, and “cutting the fat” wherever possible, IKEA is able to generate a massive selection of high-quality products very quickly.
DevOps does the same thing: Products are designed by a collaborative team focused on a single goal. IT automation makes sure the pipeline flows smoothly from idea through to delivery. Efficiency replaces redundancy, costs are controlled, and quality is never sacrificed for schedule or cost.
Create a truly collaborative design process. DevOps requires your internal teams to think not like “Dev” or “Ops” or “QA” or “Security,” but as designers of solutions collaborating to bring measurable value to the business. Your essential players come together at the earliest design stage, focusing on a single goal throughout development, testing and delivery. For many organizations, it’s a huge cultural change, but the results can be significant. Code defects are detected much earlier in the development process, overall project risk is minimized, and the team responds faster to changing business priorities.
Building this kind of collaboration can start with something as simple as using common performance diagnostic tools across Dev and Ops teams; sharing performance scripts from QA so that Ops doesn’t have to create its own; and using social media collaboration tools for focused, context-aware discussions between teams.
The CIO must become the DevOps evangelist and governor. To bring DevOps’ power to the enterprise, the CIO must drive a change in IT’s culture. DevOps is much more than just getting Apps to talk to Ops. It’s about getting teams to focus on collaborative design from start to finish. It’s about changing the thinking of the extended team to say: “How do we remove the variability of time, cost and quality from the design and assembly process? How do we remove ourselves and make processes more predictable and efficient?”
You should be both an evangelist and governor of this change. By setting the key performance indicators (KPIs) for a DevOps project, for example, you can demonstrate the tangible value of the DevOps model—how it creates a process that ensures quality without disrupting the speed of iterative, incremental development.
For more on how automation can power DevOps principles, see our latest articles for Apps, Ops and Security leaders.
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