How can DevOps deliver business value?
In the next in our series of articles developed in collaboration with Ivanti, we look at why DevOps continues to resonate, ask whether it goes far enough and what the keys are to unlock its potential.
DevOps is an ITSM hot topic because it fulfils a clear aim. Matthew Hooper, Product Evangelist for Ivanti explains the flawed structure of IT development and why DevOps is critical in transforming how we build and deploy business technology.
“We have ITIL and Change advisory teams in place to manage IT projects and changes. They all meet Thursdays at 3.00pm and eventually conclude maybe the top ten things in IT that need changes. A lot of the time, there are large, big risk topics that are difficult to tackle and have been hanging around a long time, and keep on being pushed back until they reach a critical importance level. Because of the scale of these projects, sometimes nothing gets done until it’s too late.”
“However, speak to the engineers and the ‘smaller’ issues on their agenda which they could action in two minutes are often also overlooked. Because the engineers are on the ground and see the potential impact of these changes, these are also often extremely powerful changes which are not actioned.”
By creating small teams out of these people, and by using DevOps principles, IT employees are able to bring critical issues to the top of the agenda.
“IT becomes a democratic process. These smaller changes are easier to roll back and can be broken down into small sprints, rather than pushing them back until they become massive projects. This also means it’s easier to monitor progress and gather feedback, and these changes require less reworking and fewer meetings. I’ve seen examples where this approach not only improves development, it frees up an extra day per person per week which can be spent being proactive. In this scenario, your advisory board can spend more time thinking strategically about the business.”
This final point is a critical benefit of DevOps according to Matt, as it helps create a laser focus on what is really important in terms of developing IT.
“Most IT projects are driven by the worry of failing certain business requirements, but we forget that ultimately, it is the customer which we are failing with subpar IT. DevOps helps you pivot and validate, and creates a start-up mentality that drives innovation, business efficiency and end-user productivity.”
The results are clear. According to research from puppet.com* high-performing DevOps organisations “deploy 200 times more frequently, with 2,555 times faster lead times, recover 24 times faster, and have three times lower change failure rates.”
What does this look like in reality? Matt uses the example of an airline. “If your processes fail, the plane won’t takeoff – that’s the business impact. And this is where DevOps begins. You automate the processes, connect them to SLA, use skills based routing so people know exactly what they need to do. If we don’t digitalise our manual processes, we can’t scale. But if we do build this structure ITSM can lead digital transformation and DevOps is the starting point.”
Many people misunderstand DevOps and Matt says this is why some are trying to call it “BizDevOps”, to show that the concept ultimately has a business-first mentality. “This tells me that people are trying to practice DevOps without knowing what the requirement is. This should be at the heart of DevOps to begin with.”
Part of the problem is that the identity of DevOps is still open for debate. Whatever your absolute definition of DevOps, there are principles from it that are universal. “I like the John Wills description. He talks about culture, automation and service, but it’s really the culture that DevOps is about. It’s about learning the things that we know we need to know, and finding out which things we don’t know. Is there something that will disrupt the market and make all work irrelevant? Can we transform the business with processes? DevOps, simply put, is about being curious.”
There is a clear, practical reason for introducing DevOps. It simplifies development, creates more manageable products, delivers faster results and creates momentum and energy within IT. But the long-term benefit is more fundamental and powerful. DevOps is the gateway to a new way of looking at IT and how it can enable the business.
Hear more from Matt in this article: Is IT headed for a ‘go-faster disaster’?