Enterprises are advancing in their digital mandates. They are digitizing operations and the customer experience and developing digital business models.
Despite these impressive achievements, enterprises are experiencing the digital transformation (DT) brace position.
When I say brace position, I am referring to the alerted posture of passengers during an emergency landing. Similarly, while enterprises are transitioning their traditional services to digital with greater efficiency, they are caught in brace position when trying to scale their software-driven initiatives.
Digital transformation is a $1.7 trillion industry, yet 70% of attempts fail to achieve digital perfection. So how do enterprises facing a crash landing brace themselves? DevOps.
It promises a powerful shared objective of achieving unusually advanced customer experience and leveraging new opportunities (opportunities overlooked because of siloed teams, hierarchical structure, a less engaged workforce and delayed decisions). Here’s how DevOps can save enterprises that are in a DT brace position.
As enterprises grow, each team adopts its own working style. This means different tool chains and objectives and conflicting goals. This stifles collaboration within the enterprise. At first thought, DevOps seems like a collaboration between development and operations, but it spans all teams in the enterprise. It promotes the balance required between business needs and corresponding IT alterations.
New-age DevOps engineering teams have shared objectives of enhanced customer experience and business profitability. Digital channels are critical for enterprises, and this makes every team responsible for achieving digital targets. How?
This can be achieved via an actionable philosophy and collaborative practices like stand-up meetings, project-tracking tools, agile planning and infrastructure as code (IaC) tools. One important example is improved collaboration between development and operations through IaC. When developers work with IaC, they are observant about infrastructure, configurations, server setups, network configurations, real-time applications and more. Operations teams care about the codes and testing of applications.
DevOps-sponsored collaboration naturally translates into agility for enterprises. It enforces the integration, delivery and deployment of software continuously with any midcourse corrections required.
The first way of bringing in agility is a creation of integrated delivery pipelines. In a non-DevOps business scenario, frequent requirement changes cause chaos because of nonintegrated production pipelines. In a DevOps scenario, integrated production pipelines make it easy for teams to address requirement changes or rollbacks or automate infrastructure. Planning boards have access to product and business owners to determine the priority and dependency of features. Cloud technologies help to alter infrastructure capabilities and monitor applications for rollbacks.
DevOps has standard communication practices (language, processes, toolchains and technologies). When there’s uniformity, tackling new challenges become easier — then there can be a quick execution of day-to-day activities and easy midcourse corrections if required.
DevOps teams build agile enterprises by enabling three things: delivering new solutions, running and planning infrastructure around the solutions, and taking care of midcourse changes.
Speed Of Delivery
For an enterprise on the digital journey, speed of delivery translates to time to market (a.k.a. lead time). When we compare Puppet Labs’ 2015 “State of DevOps Report” to its 2016 report, we can see that high-performing IT organizations experienced 200 times shorter lead times in 2015 compared to 2,555 times shorter lead times in 2016. Similarly, in 2017 it was 440 times faster.
The decline in 2017 does not mean that lead time from committing to deploy has gone down. These measures are relative, and the 2017 “State of DevOps Report” presents an exact comparison. It means low-performing organizations are doing better with throughput, and DevOps has achieved an overall improvement. With DevOps assertiveness, high-speed delivery is a given.
In the last two DevOps reports, focus shifted from lead times to discussions about future evolution and security integration in DevOps. The automation facet of DevOps takes credit in creating new digital value for customers.
Organizations trying to increase their speed of delivery must use tools for planning, tracking, code management, integration and release management, and IaC to build a CI/CD pipeline. The choice of tools for every organization will vary based on their applications and code types. Once implemented, they must introspect and benchmark current delivery performance against peers and self-delivery practices. The diagnostic approach uncovers flawed areas to improve impactful activities like integration, testing, deployment, etc.
Reliability Of The Product
Speed versus quality has been a classic debate. In a traditional waterfall model, testing done at the end ensures the highest-quality product gets into users’ hands. If bugs are found at the end, enterprises won’t mind pushing timelines. But the same doesn’t work for an enterprise in a transformation brace position, and DevOps can help here.
Organizations must implement practices like version control, standardized technology stacks, source code repositories, standard practices for infrastructure changes, and availability across teams. This contributes to standard development practices with limited variance, ensuring the reliability and quality of the product remains intact. With continuous code check-ins, builds must pass through predefined tests with minimum acceptance criteria. As a next step, organizations can automate unit and functional tests, as well as entire CI processes, with quality check gates based on the results expected.
Mean Time To Recover (MTTR)
Even with the best approach, enterprises cannot capture the full essence of DevOps and face downtime. With DevOps, MTTR stands from the time your system broke down to the time teams started making efforts to get it up and running again. With DevOps, the efforts are to reduce MTTR by devising multicloud strategies as per the application ecosystem.
Application downtime occurs because of network and server outages. For reducing MTTR, organizations must focus on automation and hybrid and multicloud strategies. Implementing IaC with careful consideration of code base type, architecture modification and cloud infrastructure is an appropriate way of reducing MTTR.
Enterprises in the brace position can reevaluate their DevOps path to fix any deviations in the digital journey. As a result, modernized delivery practices will brace them for a smooth landing in the digital space.