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Why DevOps will be critical to your organisation in 2017

(Image credit: Image Credit: Profit_Image / Shutterstock)

DevOps is seeing a mainstream push right now. More organisations have started to embrace DevOps practices across IT operations, services and app delivery, seeking to transform their business.  DevOps has traditionally been the domain of early IT adopters. However, as previously held assumptions are dispelled – from security through to benefits – we’re seeing more risk-averse companies recognising the need to shift their thinking. So, why are more organisations coming round to the critical opportunity that DevOps can bring into their business?

The DevOps start line

DevOps is a mindset, rather than a set of tools or techniques.  Specifically, that mindset is one of shared understanding that in any business, you need both change and stability to succeed. DevOps aims to develop a collaborative relationship grounded on a common set of objectives, and, to deliver IT services that will ultimately provide real value.  Everyone - not just developers and operations, but managers, product owners, infosec practitioners and designers too - shares responsibility for delivering those changes as quickly as required, and for keeping the platform as available, secure and performant as the business needs.

Increasingly, all businesses are becoming technology businesses whether they realise it or not. Which means that any company involved in delivering technology will benefit from adopting a DevOps approach. 

The DevOps question

Having been at the forefront of the DevOps movement, yes, we hold some bias about the transformative capabilities of DevOps right across an organisation.  Naturally the question for us is “Why wouldn’t you?” There’s a compelling business case to support this.

Survival of the fittest

Slow IT inevitably impacts your organisation’s success, potentially threatening its mid–to-long-term survival. A failure to invest in and future proof your IT will, in time, limit your capabilities in terms of innovation and new product and service development. IT needs to put customers first; poor customer experience can damage your brand, customer and partner relationships in a way that a DevOps strategy can protect against.

It’s time for cloud

As cloud environments become the future of IT, so the need for DevOps approaches grows. Often, the same risk-averse organisations which have resisted DevOps approaches have also been resistant to moving to the cloud. Now, those companies are finding themselves lagging years behind their competitors, and facing major challenges to catch up.

Without embracing DevOps, companies struggle to realise the full benefits of moving to the cloud. Commoditisation and increased reliability of server hardware means that the benefits of an IT-led “lift and shift” to the cloud are marginalised.

A truly transformative cloud migration needs to involve more than just the IT team - every aspect of the business needs to be involved, and all teams need to have their goals aligned. Our experience indicates that a cloud migration strategy without a collaborative DevOps approach will probably fail to deliver the expected benefits. It is no surprise, after all, that there’s a direct correlation between the growing confidence in and uptake of public cloud technologies and the rise of DevOps.

Up to the minute security

Security breaches and failures dominate the media.  For C-suite tech leaders, having up-to-date technology that is robust and fit for purpose is a must to deliver your organisation’s compliance and security requirements.

A collaborative culture

By definition, DevOps is designed to break down siloes, barriers and conflicting priorities that often exist between a business’ development and operations teams, be it project spend and management or application performance. DevOps enables these teams to work together, build and deliver systems that perform reliably, safely and rapidly.  By reaching higher levels of availability – a key outcome of the DevOps approach – your organisation will operate more effectively.

Ingredients for innovation

Alongside the operational advantages that DevOps offers, there are huge shifts to the way your business thinks, behaves and reacts. Again, this ties back to our belief that it’s a mindset rather than a set of tools that can be sprinkled on a slow-moving vessel to speed it up or help it pivot in a new direction.  There’s a set of common behaviours shared by organisations with established DevOps cultures:

- They’re led by happy users

By its nature, DevOps will make you more agile, more fluid and responsive as a business. A key outcome is the ability to speed up the frequency of releases, as less time is needed or testing and QA than siloed counterparts.  High-performance IT organisations will deploy up to 30 times more frequently. Faster releases in turn mean businesses can deliver better and more features to customers, creating that improved user experience.

- They are truly agile

The speed related with DevOps brings far greater business agility, enabling businesses to respond to customer behaviours, market shifts and new technologies quicker. Iterating faster essentially keeps your business ahead in the game, outpacing competition.

- They recover quickly

Much has been made of the fact that faster development is more prone to problems and poor implementations.  In fact, high-performing IT organisations experience 60 times fewer failures, and in the event this does happen, recent figures from Puppet show that a high-performing DevOps team will recover from failure more than 25 times faster than competitors.

DevOps is set to become a mainstream IT methodology, and from where we’re sitting, that's a good thing. It’s not however, the reason to bring it into your business. This is more than Gartner giving organisations permission to “implement DevOps”. We’re looking at a change in culture more than a change in technology. For DevOps to succeed your business needs considered, well-thought out management of both organisational cultural change, together with the skills to deliver.

With the landscape of today's business challenges constantly shifting, traditional delivery approaches are being pushed to new levels. Accelerating application delivery, tuning your systems for improvement and helping your business reach higher levels of availability and agility are all accessible through DevOps.

An investment of time, leadership, finance and talent is required, which some business might consider a barrier. However, given the proven benefits of a DevOps approach, the question is, can your organisation afford not to take advantage?

Mike Griffiths, Co-founder, The Scale Factory
Image Credit: Profit_Image / Shutterstock

Mike is co-founder and principal consultant at The Scale Factory, the London-based DevOps consultancy, specialising in the design, build, scale and operation of internet infrastructure.