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5 Ways How DevOps Becomes a Dealmaker in Digital Transformation

The culture of DevOps-ism is a triumph for companies.  DevOps has plundered the inefficiencies of the traditional model of software product release. But, there is a key to it. Companies must unlock the true DevOps tenacity by wiring it with its primary stakeholders – People and Process. A recent survey shows that most teams don’t have a flair for DevOps implementation. Another study reveals that around 78 percent of the organizations fail to implement DevOps. So, what makes the difference?
Companies must underline and acclimatize the cultural shift, which erupts with DevOps. This culture is predominantly driven by automation to empower resilience, reduce costs and accelerate innovation.  The atoms that make up the cultural ecosystem are people and processes. Funny story, most companies that dream of being digital savvy, still carry primitive mind-sets. Some companies have recognized this change. The question remains – are they adept at pulling things together?
Are You in the Pre-DevOps Era, Still?
It is archaic! Collaboration and innovation, for the most part, is theoretical. The technological proliferation coupled with cut-throat competition has put your company in a hotspot. You feel crippled embracing the disruptive wave of the digital renaissance. Also, you feel threatened by a maverick Independent Software Vendor – who is new to the software sector.
If the factors above seem, relevant, it is time to move away from the legacy approach. The idea is simple – streamline and automate your software production – across the enterprise. It is similar to creating assembly lines, which operates parallel, continuous and in real-time. If you consider manufacturing, this concept is more than 150 years old. In software space, we have just realized the noble idea.
Where it all started…..
The IT industry experienced a radical change due to rapid consumerization and technological disruption. This created a need for companies to be more agile, intuitive and transparent in their service offerings.
The digital transformation initiatives are continually pushing the boundaries to deliver convergent experiences that are insightful, social and informative. Further, the millennials who form more than 50 percent part of the overall IT decision makers globally are non-receptive to inefficient technologies and slow processes. They want their employees to work in an innovative business environment with augmented collaboration and intelligent operations.
Critical Role of DevOps in Digital Transformation
It is essential for the organization to follow an integrated approach for driving digital transformation, integrating cross-functionalities and enabling IT agility. DevOps enables enterprises to design, create, deploy and manage applications with new age software delivery principles. It also helps in creating unmatched competencies for delivering high-quality applications faster and easier; while accelerating innovation. With DevOps, organizations can divide silos facilitating collaboration, communication, and automation with better quality and reduced risk and cost.
Below are the five key DevOps factors to implement for improving efficiency and accelerating innovation.

1. Automating Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery

DevOps is not confined to your departments. Nor it is just a deployment of some five-star tools. DevOps is a journey to transform your organization.  It is essential to implement and assess a DevOps strategy to realize the dream of software automation.
Breaking the silos, connecting isolated teams and wielding a robust interface can become taskmasters. This gets more tedious for larger companies.
The initial focus must remain on integrating people in this DevOps model. The idea is to neutralize resistance, infuse confidence, and empower collaboration. Once these ideas become a reality, automation will become the protagonist. The question remains – How automation will be the game changer?
This brings the lens on Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). It works as a catalyst in channelizing automation throughout your organization. Historically, software development and delivery have been teeth-grinding. Even the traditional DevOps entails a manual cycle of writing codes, conducting tests, and deploying codes. This brings several pitfalls – multiple touchpoints, non-singular monitoring, increased dependencies on various tools, etc.
How to Automate the CI/CD Pipeline?

  • Select an automation server that provides numerous tools and interfaces for automation
  • Select a version control and software development platform to commit codes
  • Pull the codes in the build phase via automation server
  • Compile codes in the build phase for various tasks
  • Execute a series of tests for the compiled codes
  • Release the codes in the staging environment
  • Deploy the codes from the staging server via Docker

An automated CI/CD pipeline will mitigate caveats associated with the traditional DevOps. It will result in a single, centralized view of project status, across stages. It drastically brings down the human intervention, moving you towards zero errors. But, is that all simple? Definitely no. It has its own set of challenges.
Companies that are maneuvering from waterfall to DevOps, often end up automating wrong processes. How can teams avoid this? Well, have the following checklist handy.

  • The frequency of process/workflow repetitions
  • The time duration of the process
  • Dependencies on people, tools, and technologies
  • Delays resulting due to dependencies
  • Errors in processes, if it is not automated

These checklists will provide insights on the bottlenecks. It will help prioritize and automate critical tasks – starting from code compiling, testing to deployment.

2. The Holy Nexus of Cloud and DevOps

You don’t buy a superbike to drive it in city traffics. You would prefer wide roads, less traffic to unleash its true speed.  Then why do Cloud without DevOps?
The combination of Cloud and DevOps is magical. Often, IT managers don’t realize it. Becoming a Cloud first company is not possible without a DevOps first approach. It is a case of the sum being more significant than parts. What is the point of implementing DevOps correctly, when the deployment platform is inefficient? Similarly, a scalable deployment platform loses its charm without fast and continuous software development.
Cloud creates a single ecosystem, which provides DevOps with its natural playground. The centralized platform offered by Cloud enables continuous production, testing, and deployment.  Most Cloud platforms come with DevOps capabilities of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. This reduces the cost of DevOps in an On-Premise environment.
Consider the case of Equifax – a consumer credit reporting company. They store their data on cloud and in-house data centers.  In 2018, they released a document on the cyber-attack, which hit them in Sep 2017. Hackers collected around 2.4 million personally identifiable information (PII) of their customers. The company had to announce that they will provide credit file monitoring services to affected customers at no cost. Isn’t it damaging – monetarily and morally?
But, what made hackers get access to such sensitive customer information? Well, per the website, there was a vulnerability Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638 to steal the data. Although the company patched this vulnerability in March 2017, it required more profound expertise and smarter process regime. If they had a DevOps strategy to redeploy software with continuous penetration testing more frequently, a cyber-attack could have averted.
It is a genuine concern for any CIO to derive the value of cost, agility, security, and automation from their Cloud investment. The most common hurdle to this is the less compatible IT process. There other significant challenges too.  Per a recent survey by RightScale, around 58 percent of Cloud users think saving cost is their top priority. Approximately 73 percent of the respondents believe that lack of skill expertise is a significant challenge. More than 70 percent of respondent said that governance and quality is an issue.  The report also outlines integration as a challenge when moving from a legacy application to the Cloud.
DevOps can standardize the processes and set the right course to leverage Cloud. DevOps in the backend and Cloud in the frontend gives a competitive edge. Cloud works well when your Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is successful. IT teams must write the right scripts and configure it in the application. Manually writing infrastructure scripts can be daunting. DevOps can automate scripts for aligning IT processes to Cloud.

3. Microservices – The Modern Architecture

Microservices Without DevOps? Think Again!
The sea-changes in consumer preferences have altered companies’ approach to delivering applications. Consumers want results in real-time, unique to their needs. Perhaps, this is why companies such as Netflix and Amazon have lauded the benefits of Microservices. It instills application scalability and drives product release speed. Companies also leverage Microservices to stay nimble and boost their product features.
The main aim of Microservices is to shy away from the monolithic application delivery. It breaks down your application components into standalone services (Microservices). These services then must undergo development, testing, and deployment in different environments. The services’ numbers can be in  100s or 1000s. Additionally, teams can use various tools for each service. The resultant will be mammoth tasks coupled with an exponential burden on the operations. The process complexities and time-battle will also be a nightmare.
Leveraging Microservices with a waterfall approach will not extract its real benefits. You must de-couple the silo approach to incubate the gems of DevOps – People>Process>Automation. Microservices without DevOps would severely jolt teams productivity. The Quality Assurance teams would experience neck-breaking pressure due to untested codes. They will become bottlenecks, hampering the process efficiencies.
DevOps with its capability to trigger continuity will stitch every workflow through automation.

4. Containers –Without DevOps?

Consider companies of the size and nature of Netflix that require to update data in real-time and on an on-going basis. They must keep their customers updated with new features and capabilities. This isn’t feasible without Cloud. And, on top of that, releasing multiple changes daily, will be dreadful. Thereby, for smooth product operations, Container Architecture is a must. In such a case, they must daily update their Container Services – multiple times.
It entails website maintenance, releasing new services (in different locations) and responding to security threats. Even if you are a small to medium Independent Software Vendor operating in the upper echelons of the technology world, your software product requires a daily upbeat. Your developers will always be on their toes for daily security and patching updates. This a daunting task, isn’t it? DevOps is the savior.
DevOps will hold back for your applications that are built in the Cloud. It will set a continuous course of monitoring through automation and ease the pressure of monitoring from developers. Without DevOps, Container Architecture won’t sustain the pressure.

5. Marrying DevOps, Lean IT, and Agile

The right mix of DevOps, Lean and Agile amplifies business performance. Agile emphasizes greater collaboration for developing software. Lean focuses on eliminating wastes. DevOps wants to align software development with software delivery.  The three work as positives; adding them will only augment the outcome. However, there persists a contradiction in perception towards adopting these three principles. When Agile took strides, the teams said that we already do Lean IT. When DevOps took strides, the teams said that we already do Agile. But, the three principles strive to achieve similar things in different areas of the software lifecycle.
Combining DevOps, Lean and Agile can be an uphill task. Especially, for leaders that carry the traditional mindset. Organizations must revive their leadership style to align with modern business practices. The aim must be moving towards a collaborative environment for delivering value to the customers. Companies must focus on implementing a modern communication strategy at the workplace. It is necessary that they address the gaps between IT and the rest of the groups within an organization. They must be proactive in initiating mindful cross-functional relationships, backed by streamlined communications. The software development teams will then work as protagonists in embracing DevOps, Lean and Agile to survive the onslaught of competition.
It is also essential to champion each of the above concept. This will ensure that we profit out of each component in the combination. Organizational leadership must relentlessly work to create a seamless workflow, while removing bottlenecks, cutting delays, and eliminating reworks.
Companies haven’t yet fathomed the true benefits of DevOps-Agile-Lean combination. It needs time and the team of experts to capitalize on these three principles.  Additionally, companies shy away from exploiting the agility and responsiveness of modern delivery architects – Microservices, in particular. This becomes a hindrance in reaping the full potential of the combination.
The crux of driving DevOps-Agile-Lean combination is a business-driven approach. Continual feedback backed by the right analytics also plays a crucial role. It facilitates fail-fast, thereby, creating a loop of continuous improvement. Agile offers a robust platform to design software, which is tuned with the market demands. DevOps stitches the process, people and technology, ensuring efficient software delivery.
Final Thoughts
Adopting DevOps is a promising move. Above, we have depicted in 5 manners how DevOps is your digital transformation dealmaker. However, it can be nerve crunching. It takes patience, expertise, and experience for embodying its purest form. A half-baked DevOps strategy might give you a few immediate results. In the long run, it will deride your teams’ efforts. However, automation is the best way to sail through it.

Ashish Sharma

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