SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Gary Arora, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

Business Agility Depends on DevOps

Business agility depends on development and operations collaboration

True business agility is not about doing more application updates faster.  True business agility is about doing more application changes faster without sacrificing the application's performance or service quality.

From my perspective, achieving that second part of business agility means preventing application performance and service quality problems.  For the longest time IT operations have focused solely on remediating problems, which is not the same thing.  When someone's focus is on remediation, they quickly realize that it is easier to remediate problems when the environment does not change very often.  So no matter how much IT operations teams have streamlined their application problem resolution processes, there has still been an undercurrent of resistence to the constant change that is business agility.

Resistence is futile, and operations teams know this.  They recognize that they must also tackle problem prevention earlier in the application lifecycle.  The more experience one has in trying to manage the performance or service quality of constantly changing applications the more it becomes clear that the number of application performance problems depends on:

  • how well the application is engineered for the production environment,
  • how well application updates are managed; and
  • how well defect and problem knowledge are shared across development and operations.

Those issues are driving the growing interest development and operations collaboration (DevOps). Let us look at each to understand why.

1) How well the application is engineered for the production environment.
The final production deployment configuration often bears little resemblance to the application architect's original Visio diagrams.  Operations teams map the application service model, designed by software architects and developers, to the resource environments available from physical, virtual, or cloud infrastructure. This mapping activity has become an engineering effort as the complexity of the applications has grown.  This means there is often a big difference between software design and deployment configuration.  This difference often results in miscues that cause organizations to have as much as 50% their deployments rolled back.

Rollbacks can be caused by configuration had problems such as incorrect IP addresses.  That type of problem occurs when developers with no operations experience are managing this application engineering effort. Rollbacks can also be caused when the placement of the distributed components caused unexpected application performance and service quality problems.  That type of problem occurs when operations folks with little insight into the application design are managing the application configuration effort. The converse is also true, when development teams have little insight into how production deployments are configured, they can create application architectures that are not as scalable in production as in the test environment. Skills from both development and operations must be applied during the deployment configuration effort to prevent these problems.

2) How well application updates are managed.
Back when tiered web application deployments were new, I did research showed that when enterprises went from client/server to tiered web application architectures, application updates jumped from bi-annual to monthly events.   Now I'm beginning to track that the combination of SOA and agile programming means weekly (sometimes daily) application updates. It seems obvious to me that weekly application updates done with release management tools and processes designed for bi-annual updates will result in poorly performing applications.  The application service quality is even worse when those release management tools and processes used by infrastructure administrators with hardware and OS configurations expertise but little insight into application design and configuration.  If the goal is business agility without sacrificing application service quality then application development and operations teams need new collaborative means to manage how updates get done.

3) How well defect and problem knowledge flow across development and operations teams.
Defect knowledge from development teams is extremely useful because it allows operations teams to create infrastructure workarounds (such as throwing more hardware at the problem or staging server restarts).  These workarounds protect application service quality while buying the development team time to resolve the problem.

Problem knowledge from operations teams is useful because it allows agile developers to improve their application design for better performance as they work on the next round of user requirements. Therefore, it seems obvious to me that the more difficult communications is between development and operations, the more application problems there will be in production.  The chasm between development and operations groups has to be bridged with effective collaboration for application service quality to be maintain in the face of constant change.  Effective collaboration  is not about more meetings, reports, email trails and CYA activities.  It is about enabling the different groups to share the right information with the right people at the right time.

So there's my take on three key issues that determine how agile a business can actually become. From my perspective, fostering application collaboration between development and operations should be a cornerstone capability of those solutions if they are to deliver true business agility. I'm interested in hearing your perspectives.

More Stories By Jasmine Noel

Jasmine Noel is a founding partner of Ptak, Noel & Associates. She has over 15 years experience analyzing and consulting on IT management issues. She currently focuses on technologies and processes that organizations require to design, engineer and manage the performance and service quality of business applications, workloads and services. Noel served previously as director of systems and applications management at Hurwitz Group, where she formulated and managed the company’s research agenda. She was also a senior analyst at D.H. Brown Associates, where her responsibilities included technology trend analysis in the network and systems management space. Noel is regularly quoted in and contributed articles to several leading publications and content portals on various IT management topics. She holds a bachelor of science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master of science from the University of Southern California.

Latest Stories
While a hybrid cloud can ease that transition, designing and deploy that hybrid cloud still offers challenges for organizations concerned about lack of available cloud skillsets within their organization. Managed service providers offer a unique opportunity to fill those gaps and get organizations of all sizes on a hybrid cloud that meets their comfort level, while delivering enhanced benefits for cost, efficiency, agility, mobility, and elasticity.
Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web. With staff in 10 timezones, Isomorphic provides a global network of services related to our technology, with offerings ranging from turnkey application development to SLA-backed enterprise support. Leadin...
DevOps has long focused on reinventing the SDLC (e.g. with CI/CD, ARA, pipeline automation etc.), while reinvention of IT Ops has lagged. However, new approaches like Site Reliability Engineering, Observability, Containerization, Operations Analytics, and ML/AI are driving a resurgence of IT Ops. In this session our expert panel will focus on how these new ideas are [putting the Ops back in DevOps orbringing modern IT Ops to DevOps].
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Enterprises are striving to become digital businesses for differentiated innovation and customer-centricity. Traditionally, they focused on digitizing processes and paper workflow. To be a disruptor and compete against new players, they need to gain insight into business data and innovate at scale. Cloud and cognitive technologies can help them leverage hidden data in SAP/ERP systems to fuel their businesses to accelerate digital transformation success.
Most organizations are awash today in data and IT systems, yet they're still struggling mightily to use these invaluable assets to meet the rising demand for new digital solutions and customer experiences that drive innovation and growth. What's lacking are potent and effective ways to rapidly combine together on-premises IT and the numerous commercial clouds that the average organization has in place today into effective new business solutions.
Concerns about security, downtime and latency, budgets, and general unfamiliarity with cloud technologies continue to create hesitation for many organizations that truly need to be developing a cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud solutions are helping to elevate those concerns by enabling the combination or orchestration of two or more platforms, including on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and/or third-party, public cloud services. This gives organizations more comfort to begin their digital tr...
Keeping an application running at scale can be a daunting task. When do you need to add more capacity? Larger databases? Additional servers? These questions get harder as the complexity of your application grows. Microservice based architectures and cloud-based dynamic infrastructures are technologies that help you keep your application running with high availability, even during times of extreme scaling. But real cloud success, at scale, requires much more than a basic lift-and-shift migrati...
David Friend is the co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, the hot cloud storage company that delivers fast, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Prior to Wasabi, David co-founded Carbonite, one of the world's leading cloud backup companies. A successful tech entrepreneur for more than 30 years, David got his start at ARP Instruments, a manufacturer of synthesizers for rock bands, where he worked with leading musicians of the day like Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend of The Who, and Led Zeppelin. David has ...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Addteq is a leader in providing business solutions to Enterprise clients. Addteq has been in the business for more than 10 years. Through the use of DevOps automation, Addteq strives on creating innovative solutions to solve business processes. Clients depend on Addteq to modernize the software delivery process by providing Atlassian solutions, create custom add-ons, conduct training, offer hosting, perform DevOps services, and provide overall support services.
Contino is a global technical consultancy that helps highly-regulated enterprises transform faster, modernizing their way of working through DevOps and cloud computing. They focus on building capability and assisting our clients to in-source strategic technology capability so they get to market quickly and build their own innovation engine.
When applications are hosted on servers, they produce immense quantities of logging data. Quality engineers should verify that apps are producing log data that is existent, correct, consumable, and complete. Otherwise, apps in production are not easily monitored, have issues that are difficult to detect, and cannot be corrected quickly. Tom Chavez presents the four steps that quality engineers should include in every test plan for apps that produce log output or other machine data. Learn the ste...
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...