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

Blog Feed Post

The business case for Devops

Business case for Devops is a tricky subject.

This requires we clearly define the investment and then prove that the return on it is going to be positive.

So, what exactly is a Devops investment and how can we go about calculating its return?

At the most basic level organizations want their Dev and Ops team to effectively collaborate to ensure that they reach a  state of continuous delivery. Continuous is off course contextual. Continuous can be monthly, weekly or even hourly for  some organizations. Moreover, not all systems need continuous releases - the so called systems of records need lesser cadence than their new age counterparts - the systems of engagement which evolve more rapidly.

Continuous delivery is also not just about frequency. The underlying premise is that the increased speed will be achieved at less cost (more efficient automated process) with predictable quality (functionally and structurally).

So, in a way, Devops is just a 'means' towards the larger 'end' of continuous delivery. I prefer to use the word  predictable delivery instead of continuous delivery - which means that business pulls value as and when it needs with  predictable consistency rather than being continuously fed. 

With this definition in place, let's now first see how we calculate the return on a Devops investment. This is  important as unless the benefits are clear, investments would be difficult to justify.


As per the last Standish Report in 2012 (the next one is due in 2014), only 39% of IT projects succeed - 43% are  challenged (late, over budget, and/or with less than the required features and functions) and 18% outright fail (cancelled
prior to completion or delivered and never used). While the same statistics for 'smaller' projects is much better (and  incidentally as per Standish small projects need not necessarily mean 'agile' projects - small waterfall projects are  almost equally successful - we'll revisit this in more detail in a later post), it is not very difficult for organizations
to take stock of their fairly large portfolio of badly performing projects and calculate the 'return' if something was  done to improve their probability of success.


What I am implying is that Devops practices will improve the success rates of IT projects.
Agile has done its bit but its influence starts waning as a project enters its system testing stage. One way of looking  at Devops is to see it as an extension of Agile - into the last mile stages of an IT project and beyond. 

Interestingly in their 2013 CHAOS Manifesto, the Standish Group credits agile process with only a 10% influence on the  success of a small IT project (which is a project with less than $1M of labour content). Executive management support  (20%), project management expertise (12%) besides 3 other factors have more influence than 'agile'. In my view, Devops,  when properly institutionalized, can enhance the relative influence of agile processes from its current 10%.

So to summarize, the return of a Devops initiative should be improved IT projects performance.

Now let's turn to the other side of the equation - the 'investments'. What do organization's need to do to 'Devops' enable their IT teams?

In my view the investments can be bucketed under 3 broad categories:

Structure & Process

An empowered group has to be set up to investigate what structural changes are required to incentivize Dev and Ops to  collaborate.

One simple step could be to extend the scope of a 'project' to also include deployment and post live ops support for  atleast 6 months. Selected members of the Ops team become part of project teams (not just lent resources but owned  resources) which lasts for a significant duration after the system has gone live. This ensures that the Dev team can no 
longer just toss over the code to the Ops guys to run - they are equally responsible to run it themselves.


In fact, many organizations are extending this ownership beyond the 'stabilization' phase. They are repositioning their  'project teams' into 'product teams' with almost cradle to grave ownership for the assigned products / systems. This has  its own pros and cons but that’s the subject of another post some other day.

The other alternative could be a more formal alignment of responsibility and KRAs of the Dev and Ops team - joint ownership  of system upgradation and stability, common KRAs, etc.

The group has to find out what works best in their organizational context - by collecting / analyzing data, talking to  people and exploring best practices outside their organization. Not a very huge investment in terms of cost - maybe 4  people working for 4 weeks max - total 4 person months.

Technology

While all the 4 functional areas - planning / monitoring, building / integration, testing / validation and release /  deployment - lend themselves to technology enablement, organizations need to assess what their relative technology  strengths are in each of these areas and then define their investment strategy. 

While quality needs to be built it, probably the last stage when it should be formally validated is during the build  process. Automated unit test scripts should be integrated into the build process especially when integration is  continuous. Structural code checkers like CAST and specialist CI tools like Jenkins / Hudson add more teeth to this  process - although the same can be accomplished through multiple other tools.

Continuous testing needs rapid provisioning of testing environment and rapid deployment of builds / packages into the  provisioned environment. The provisioned test environment should also closely resemble the production environment - this  requires service virtualization capabilities (GreenHat, Lisa, etc.,) as well as a robust change & configuration management of production environments. The whole concept of 'infrastructure as code' where an entire environment can be mapped to a  piece of code and managed as any other CI enables this very easily. Rule based workflow enabled automated deployment of 
code through release automation tools like uDeploy, Nolio, Automic etc., coupled with server / cloud provisioning tools  like Chef / Puppet can be useful if implemented in the right context.


Devops is also about end to end flow so it is necessary that all the siloed sources of truth - project management,  requirements management, code management, test / defect management, service management are integrated and mapped to each  other to create one source of truth which can be viewed from different perspectives. Integration of tools is a major and  important investment in a Devops initiative. The ability to trace relationships between different entities - code -> user  story -> feature -> business process -> commit -> build -> package -> defect - > environment - > incident - > CR is  crucial. ALM platforms which accommodate integration with multiple tools like TeamForge, Jazz, Omnibus, etc., are almost a necessity.

Drive Change

This is the most difficult part.

More so because IT organizations won't have the luxury of taking a 'shut down' to transition to this new state of  collaboration. The tires of the car have to be changed while it is running.
It is not only difficult to achieve it, but also to estimate the efforts behind it.

Gene Kim's 'The Phoenix Project' clearly shows how daunting and complex this change exercise can be. It requires very  strong leadership and a multiple of other factors in the right proportions - sense of urgency, availability of skills,  technology literacy, culture of process rigor and an eco system which celebrates teamwork. If this right mix does not 
exist, it has to be created.


While the structure re-alignment and a formal 'process design' phase to define the new way of working will be a good  start, unless there is an urge to adopt this new mantra from that critical mass of people, it won't last. Investments have to be made in terms of identifying a change leader, change champions at various levels, trainings / workshops / awareness 
sessions / pep talks / a holistic communication campaign / forums participation, etc., to drive home the point that the  entire IT function has to perform this delicate balancing act of maintaining stability in the face of disruptive  innovation. That it is no longer Ops which is responsible for stability and Dev has the eternal prerogative of breaking  that stability under the guise of innovation - rather it is a collective mandate to deliver both.


In my experience, most organizations in their current Devops journey are paying far more attention to the 'Technology'  investment bucket relative to the other two. My hope is that this post will remind them that no transformation can be just about technology - it is always about people and the structural framework within which they interact with each other.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Sujoy Sen

Sujoy is a TOGAF Certified Enterprise Architect, a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Manager of Organizational Excellence from American Society for Quality, a PMP, a CISA, an Agile Coach, a Devops Evangelist and lately, a Digital enthusiast. With over 20 years of professional experience now, he has led multiple consulting engagements with Fortune 500 customers across the globe. He has a Masters Degree in Quality Management and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering. He is based out of New Jersey.

Latest Stories
Every organization is facing their own Digital Transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition, or worse, just keep up. Each new opportunity, whether embracing machine learning, IoT, or a cloud migration, seems to bring new development, deployment, and management models. The results are more diverse and federated computing models than any time in our history.
On-premise or off, you have powerful tools available to maximize the value of your infrastructure and you demand more visibility and operational control. Fortunately, data center management tools keep a vigil on memory contestation, power, thermal consumption, server health, and utilization, allowing better control no matter your cloud's shape. In this session, learn how Intel software tools enable real-time monitoring and precise management to lower operational costs and optimize infrastructure...
"Calligo is a cloud service provider with data privacy at the heart of what we do. We are a typical Infrastructure as a Service cloud provider but it's been designed around data privacy," explained Julian Box, CEO and co-founder of Calligo, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.