Finding a place for DevOps innovation in 2015

Posted by admin September 29, 2015
Finding a place for DevOps innovation in 2015

The growing influence of DevOps in areas such as UX design should help dispel any doubt that DevOps innovation is first and foremost a cultural movement (rather than one predicated primarily upon specific technologies). The key tenets of DevOps - collaboration, breaking down organizational silos and enabling agile practices - can be just as useful in user experience design as it is in the IT value stream.

As DevOps is embraced more widely, what challenges should organizations look out for when considering a DevOps initiative? For one, there's the issue of actually defining what DevOps means for your organization and what unique benefits it can bring. In a January 2015 article for O'Reilly Media, Baron Schwartz notes that DevOps lacks a certain clarity of meaning – DevOps lacked a manifesto and draws heavily from other movements like Six Sigma and management consulting- which can lead to ineffective adoption.

"The movement is fragmented and weakly defined, and is being usurped by those who care more about short-term opportunities than the long-term viability of DevOps," Schwartz wrote at the time.

Beyond that, there are the natural difficulties of implementing DevOps at large firms that aren't as nimble and lean as most startups. To get the most out of DevOps automation, methodology will have to be matched with sensible decisions about technology that result in quicker provisioning times, easier access for remote contributors and sustainable automation that serves all types of users.

The DevOps dilemma in 2015: Finding a niche for a broad movement
DevOps is both general and specific. It is predicated upon broad principles like collaboration - commitment to shared business goals - that are meant to be applicable across an entire organization. But, at the same time, it also intended to create a more automated and codified working relationship between dev/test and IT operations, which is often predicated on creating specific tools for specific processes. So DevOps is both large scale and granular.

Collaboration.DevOps is first and foremost about collaboration.

These sorts of dualities can make DevOps seem hard to pin down. Schwartz argued as much earlier this year, and he's not the only one to make this argument.

However, large enterprise organizations do seem to understand that DevOps can deliver on its promises to improve the quality and frequency that organizations are able to deliver software, even if they haven't been entirely successful in implementing it. A Rackspace survey from January 2015 that polled 700 IT decision makers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia revealed that:

  • More than 60 percent of large organizations (more than 1,000 employees) in the U.K. were familiar with DevOps, compared to 73 percent of mid-sized firms (250 to 1,000 employees).
  • Nearly 40 percent of large firms claimed to have implemented DevOps, while 42 percent of small and mid-sized firms said the same.
  • However, only about 30 percent of big organizations had undertaken the organizational change, such as integrating teams, that often accompanies a shift to DevOps.

The results suggest that established organizations can see benefits in DevOps - e.g., shortening development cycles, moving real-world testing to the left, achieving higher quality software and service deployments - but often have trouble executing on their new vision. This isn't entirely surprising since many firms still have to deal with legacy infrastructure and highly manual processes that have been in place for many years.

"DevOps cultural change takes time."

The cultural changes needed to make DevOps successful can take time, but that doesn't mean that companies have to wait to transform infrastructure to cloud models using DevOps orchestration. Even with a mix of physical, virtual and cloud assets on the ground, admins can choose a cloud orchestration platform like QualiSystems CloudShell that have resource abstraction layers equally adept at automating many different types of infrastructure. Teams can then focus on making the more profound transition to a DevOps culture.

The takeaway: DevOps has been a hot topic for years, yet it is still a vague concept for some. Organizations are looking for sensible ways to implement it and accelerate their IT processes, but doing so will require addressing specific issues such as the persistence of legacy infrastructure and manual processes. DevOps orchestration platforms can help by using object libraries to turn any type of infrastructure into a cloud, smoothing the way for DevOps culture change.