The DevOps Dilemma

At a time when the speed of application development is vital to commercial success, the DevOps methodology - based on communication, collaboration, integration and automation - has become one of the biggest IT moves around.

However, it’s more than just a business philosophy; to do it right requires genuine infrastructure investment and development.

The increased availability of virtualised and cloud infrastructure is bringing agile development to organisations of all shapes and sizes. As you might expect, this means traditional large-scale organisations are bringing development and operations teams together to get more agility in their businesses, and ultimately develop projects in shorter timeframes.

With this in mind, what do these businesses need to consider to ensure they’ve got a DevOps environment that will give them the edge they need over the competition?

Say goodbye to disastrous long-term projects

Modern organisations have moved away from traditional project management methodologies. With traditional ‘waterfall’ development methods, projects are started from scratch with a lifecycle of months, or even years. Agile development methods create very short cycles of two weeks or less. This is a complete contrast to the traditional, often disastrous projects often seen in the public sector, with months-long plans to simply build a new website. It’s OK to make mistakes, just have the agility and momentum to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Of course, imitation is the strongest form of flattery, but these larger businesses do need to act like smaller, more nimble companies in their style of thinking to stay ahead of the curve and be truly software-defined. This means that these companies need higher levels of automation to be able to keep their operations teams small, and spend more time with customers.

Consider how automated you really are

In evaluating this, first and foremost businesses need to seriously consider how automated their infrastructure is. They may be surprised to discover they can automate all elements on a storage array at the same time, rather than managing their infrastructure in silos. This frees up precious time and resources and offers previously unrealised agility

It isn’t enough to simply have this automated infrastructure in place, however. Organisations have to use it effectively, scale development to their unique growth requirements, and instigate a DevOps-oriented culture that sits comfortably with staff. Ultimately, the aim for everybody involved in this process across the business is customer satisfaction. To achieve this, a cultural change must be reached, with barriers between teams removed and a collective desire to implement an internal process improvement instigated.

Pick up PaaS

Organisations should also learn to combine a DevOps culture with other agile approaches like Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), rather than treat them separately. In doing so, they will find that DevOps actually functions as a solid foundation for a fully-functioning PaaS by combining its absolute control with this type of platform’s high levels of productivity.

These approaches can unite an organisation’s developer and IT support teams. By combining forces under a common cause, teams will have a stronger chance of securing management’s support for funding new tools, hiring new staff and improving efficiency throughout the business.

Get ready for the start of something new

A DevOps approach alone cannot save an organisation, but is a model for making IT and developer teams more successful by speeding up application development and delivering competitive advantages as a result.

This approach isn’t right for everyone, but neither can it be ignored. If you plan to be involved in the future of IT, the simple reality is that you need to be involved in DevOps.

Two years ago, this was a concept, but the clear reality is that this has moved from the drawing board and into the boardroom. The task now is to ensure that it’s taken seriously throughout the organisation.

Martin Cooper, Technical Director, SolidFire International