How DevOps can bring organisational change to your enterprise

Exactly what business issues does DevOps help to solve?
Exactly what business issues does DevOps help to solve?

In today's software-driven business landscape, delivering applications every few months just doesn't cut it. If you want to remain competitive you must be prepared to continuously release innovative, high-quality applications to satisfy growing customer and business demands. But how can you do THAT, when costs are increasing and budgets tightening? That's where DevOps, the methodology that fuels richer collaboration between development and IT operations teams, comes in.

Putting a DevOps culture in place – and then leveraging and investing in the tools needed to support it – enables businesses to better compete in today's app-driven, cloud-connected, mobile-everything world. We spoke to Ritu Mahandru, Vice President Solution Sales, Application Delivery at CA Technologies, on the subject of DevOps and how it can work for your organisation.

TechRadar Pro: There has been growing buzz about DevOps. What is DevOps and how can it best be deployed in the enterprise?

Ritu Mahandru: DevOps is about breaking down the barriers between software development (Dev) production and operations (Ops), and presents a pathway for these two functions to work together seamlessly. It's essentially about improving the quality, security and speed of delivering new apps to market, tightly integrating development and operations in order to do so, with reduced costs. This is vital in today's application economy.

TRP: Is DevOps a technical movement?

RM: DevOps is a methodology that unites the often separate functions into a single, integrated and continuous process. It's about bringing teams together to work collaboratively so the reality is that business outcomes drive DevOps, not the technology. DevOps is about organisational change, not a technology.

TRP: What business issue does this address?

RM: Dev is focused on software development and faster innovation. Ops is about business stability, control, and predictability. They often don't even report to the same places in the organisation. The result can be employees don't work well together and the software doesn't work reliably. That's what DevOps solves.

TRP: It seems impossible to divorce the hype from the reality – doesn't that create a lot of confusion?

RM: There are a number of myths around DevOps. People think DevOps is just another new buzzword that can only be understood by a new breed of IT professional using the latest tools. In reality the problem isn't the people, it's the organisational structure. A rigid culture and a "one skill in a box" approach restricts broader skills development. DevOps is about reversing this and opening up the organisation to work together better.

TRP: How can organisations encourage a broader use of skills?

RM: First review and assess the untapped skills of your current employees before looking further for specific DevOps talent. Look for Ops professionals who think like coders and coders that understand the need for business alignment.

TRP: So what is the role of technology in implementing DevOps?

RM: It's about using technology as a driver to accelerate DevOps goals, and removing physical constraints and bottlenecks that interrupt the flow of value to customers. For example, by automating the release process as much as possible – more releases generate more business and less IT headaches if done right.

TRP: Many businesses just outsource these functions, so does that mean there's not much of a case for DevOps?

RM: The reality today is that every business is a software business. While there are significant challenges to the application economy, enterprises are not sitting back – they are acting quickly. Enterprises are reversing a long-standing trend toward outsourcing and bringing more software development back in-house. JPMorgan Chase now has more software developers than Google and more technologists than Microsoft.

TRP: So are you predicting that DevOps will change the world?

RM: The success rate for development projects hasn't improved much in 20 years and some reports suggest that over 50% of ERP projects have failed to meet original expectations of ROI, cost and timings. DevOps solves problems using the adaptation skills of your workforce. When thinking about DevOps, look at your business first and IT second. Embrace new techniques, experimentation, new design approaches and be innovative!

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.