The DevOps challenge: outdated IT estate architectures

Not all IT estate architectures are suitable for a DevOps approach — this is the main DevOps challenge and particularly prevalent in the largest organisations. Ironically, those who need to embrace DevOps the most, in order to compete against disruptors and old foes.

In today’s business landscape, the traditional enterprise should be on an IT overhaul mission. The “monolith model present in these legacy environment doesn’t work with DevOps,” claims Gordon Cullum, CTO at Mastek. “It’s not something we would recommend.”

However, there is no need to despair. Beyond DevOps (faster deliveries), there are many other reasons why organisations should be modernising their IT estate architecture from monolith — it’s a case of necessity.

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The business case for modernisation

Implementing DevOps can lead to faster deliveries and higher quality. But, it’s not the only business case for modernisation. There are many other cases around end-of -service life risk or packaged products, for example. Old IT estate architectures can create risks across departments.

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The business IT community connect

Cullum identifies the business IT community connect and the culture that’s manifested in that connect as another DevOps challenge.

“Is the business treating IT like plumbers who need to be told to get on with it, or is it a true partnership where it’s about staying involved in the entire process all the way through,” he asks?

The DevOps teams in organisations are the IT lifeblood of the business. They need to be embedded into the business community.

Very similar to using technology effectively, IT teams need to get close to the real business pain points. And, the business needs to enable them to do this.

“This is really an agile issue,” explains Cullum.

“It’s all about having an emotional buy-in to the problem — and the best way you get that is by not having an artificial IT and business divide.”

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Even with smaller businesses, there needs to be a more fluid boundary between teams in different departments.

“I have this utopian vision where there isn’t one team or another,” says Cullum, hopefully.

But, he isn’t quite sure how to achieve it. “I don’t know how you get into that because we still have CIOs and IT directors, different positions on the board and stuff like that, but that’s the way it is.

So, addressing and changing the overall culture of business is the second DevOps challenge.

DevOps resources

DevOps or disappear: 5 reasons business leaders need to embrace development and operational IT integration

What is the right storage software needed for DevOps to be a success?

3 DevOps pitfalls and how to avoid them

DevOps mobile app development: benefits and challenges

DevOps and CloudOps: The connection behind digital transformation acceleration

Why DevOps must become BizDevOps for business and IT collaboration

Best DevOps practices for 2019

The future of DevOps

The cost of change

People underestimate the cost of change. It is a significant investment, financially and culturally.

If a business wants to change how they operate, and they frame it under the digital transformation banner, these changes can’t be made using existing bandwidth –external help will be needed to help embed that change.

Cullum explains, “you’re going to need some of your own people’s time to think about how you’re going to make that change happen; the business organisational changes, the enablement of the IT changes, the actual cost of the services that you’re going to have to procure to make those changes, be they IT services or program change services, or organisational consulting changes.”

Organisations can do some of these things themselves, but either way it will result in a significant cost.

“Don’t underestimate this cost of change,” warns Cullum. “Those who do will need to look at DevOps.”

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DevOps is worth it

Despite the challenges identified above, businesses need DevOps.

Luca Ravazzolo, product manager at InterSystems, says that this way of working “presents organisations with a number of advantages as it allows them to capture all processes in an auditable and replicable way. It also changes and adapts quickly, so the cost of change is low, and allows businesses to add cross functionality collaborations, which often means different teams working together, and results in working at a much higher speed.”

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However, he warns that trying to automate everything from the start will restrict some processes. “This means that in more creative or unpredictable scenarios you might miss out on things that are off track as you are unable to deviate from the path that has been captured by DevOps,” he continues.

“As the cloud world evolves, we will see the development of more intelligent tools that will allow us to follow up DevOps processes with more discipline and become more efficient. We have seen this in the last few years with the rise of cloud offerings which try to bring together the coding and building of a solution. This will help provide solutions for issues such as testing, deployment and security.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...