Why do we need DevOps? For the business and consumer

DevOps is a term or discipline, whatever you want to call it, that businesses have known about for sometime. But, the questions arise: why do we need DevOps? In what ways can it help my business?

“They know they need DevOps, but they’re unsure about where exactly it fits into the enterprise,” says Annie Andrews, head of technology at Curo Talent.

This isn’t an isolated case and organisations often struggle with the question of implementing a new technology, because everyone else is doing it. But, there is golden rule: do not implement technology for technology’s sake. Identify a business problem and then ask which technology can solve it?

DevOps, however, is slightly different. It’s as much a way of working than anything else, and its introduction can help “organisations innovate and speed time to market, and without it, organisations have to function with disparate systems, including both a development environment and a test environment as well as a separate operations department,” says Patrick Callaghan, enterprise architect, strategic business advisor at DataStax.

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Tim Mackey, senior technical evangelist at Synopsys, agrees and believes that first, organisations need to understand clearly what DevOps is and what it’s meant to facilitate.

He explains: “It is a cultural and organisational shift that is meant to break down the traditional ‘silos’ in software development in order to facilitate speed and responsiveness to production issues and customer feedback. For many organisations this includes: dissolving the organisational barriers between engineering and operations, prioritising well-rounded skillsets over specialisation, and promoting frequent communications and collaboration between teams.”

Annie Andrews believes DevOps is a culture that has a number of things underpinning it.
Annie Andrews believes DevOps is a culture that has a number of things underpinning it.

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How to implement DevOps

The “most successful” method for implementing DevOps, according to Andrews, entails getting all the relevant business units onboard.

“This isn’t just a technical exercise,” she says. Different business units, such as the finance department, need to be brought into the discussion.

The cloud has a role to play here as well, and while it and DevOps are not inextricably linked (you can use one without the other), together they form a strong partnership.

As more and more organisations deploy the cloud, they want to be able to deploy it in a fast and flexible way. “Now, the principle starts to make a lot of sense,” explains Andrews. “With it, you can effectively press a button and roll out a whole set of virtual servers and all the infrastructure that goes with it,” she says.

Mackey confirms this, saying that “as industries move towards cloud-based deployments and as-a-service business models, DevOps will become vital to surviving in these fast-paced, highly competitive environments.”

What does this all mean? Well, the reason for implementing DevOps is linked to the technology an organisation wants to deploy and… what type of organisation they are.

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The future of DevOps

Not all plain sailing

In large organisations with lots of legacy servers and legacy code, businesses are “going to have to do quite a bit of work making the business DevOpsable,” continues Andrews.

Again, Mackey supports this: “not every software development team within every organisations is in a position to adopt or even benefit from a DevOps culture, either because their technology stacks or their business models don’t require rapid, iterative development.”

But, as these large organisations strive for digital transformation, DevOps will become an increasingly important function.

The last piece of the puzzle concerning how to implement this way of working, relates to people. Businesses need strong champions and also support from the business, not just in the IT teams, because to begin with, “it will seem like a whole load of work for no actual gain,” she explains.

When in reality, the gain is in enhancing the quality by doing repeatable deployment via automation.

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For the business

According to Mackey, the organisations that have adopted this practice will see immediate benefits, including; “greater responsiveness to business issues and changes in business requirements, while increasing employee satisfaction and retention.”

Speaking from experience, he adds: “One key item that quickly becomes apparent within DevOps organisations is how strong the sense of ownership grows within teams. With that increase comes a desire to ensure applications meet and exceed quality, security and operational targets.”

Businesses need to remain competitive. Introducing DevOps is one way to achieve this — it allows organisations to increase the heartbeat of deployment and put more rigour into testing.

The speed of deployment makes it easier to work with and it also gets changes out to the market sooner. And in today’s competitive environment, it’s necessary to get things into market as quickly as possible, without neglecting quality or security:

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With DevOps, businesses can be confident about concentrating on the business value of the changes they’re implementing, and not on the technical risks.

For the consumer

Why does an organisation do anything nowadays? Why does it put itself through disruptive and exponential change?

“To drive competitive differentiation,” reiterates John Rakowski, market specialist for application performance management and analytics at AppDynamics. But, for the consumer, rather than internally.

“As consumers are now ‘always on’, businesses must perfect the digital user experience through the continuous delivery of reliable services, whether that be traditional web, mobile applications, IoT devices or wearables. Development and operations combined enables organisations to develop better, more consumer-focused applications with a higher degree of consistency,” he says.

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“All parts of the business now run off software, so having DevOps teams across the enterprise is crucial. The principle is imperative when looking to move away from short-term, cost-focused, and project-based models to building a robust operations, innovation and product-focused framework to operations. Rather than seeing dev and ops as a simple process of placing teams in yet another silo, it should instead be considered as an ongoing process that sees a radical change in culture and mindset.

“Companies that successfully adopt a DevOps culture will benefit from agile teams that collaborate more seamlessly and are able to maximise results. These integrated teams can work towards the same goals, and in turn, focus on the right measurements to increase the quality of the digital services.”

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Nominations are OPEN for the Tech Leaders Awards, organised by Information Age and taking place on 12th September 2019 at the Royal Lancaster, London. Categories include CIO of the Year, CTO of the Year, Digital Leader of the Year and Security Leader of the Year. Recognise and reward excellence in the tech industry by submitting a nomination today

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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...

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