What is DevOps?

DevOps: Turning the IT “Problem” into a Business Solution

Each day, IT professionals are faced with immense responsibility. In a world that revolves around tech, employees, executives, and customers have high expectations for their digital experiences, and leaders who fail to adapt will be left behind.

Most IT departments don’t operate efficiently, and are often perceived as bottlenecks, cost centers, and unworthy of executive support. Unorganized and outdated workflows allow this vicious cycle to continue, not only hindering department performance, but also stunting business growth. Eventually, an organization may drop their expectations for IT as a strategic asset and look for solutions elsewhere.

DevOps is a methodology and a practice that can be used to eliminate these harmful patterns, and bring new clarity, efficiency and performance to the entire organization. Those who successfully adopt DevOps will outperform their peers. (DORA, 2018 State of DevOps Report)

If you’re ready to shift the perception of IT, transform your business, and start achieving real outcomes, it’s time to take a closer look at DevOps.

DevOps: A New Solution for Old Problems

In the past, Waterfall processes allowed teams to work slowly and methodically, pass work from one department to the next, and march toward deployments often months or years apart. However, today’s tech-centered world demands that teams speed up, push to deliver quickly, and adapt constantly, or be outperformed by their peers.

In the effort to keep up, many IT departments have lost control, trying to fit an outdated model into a new set of needs. As a result, IT and Operations are often at odds, merely throwing their work “over the wall” with little collaboration or consideration for each other. Long-term projects become quickly bottlenecked, with a constant accrual of technical debt (which means more employee hours and resources to fix coding issues). Then, as deployment approaches, testing comes in too late to catch major bugs, resulting in a last-minute scramble, sacrificed quality, and unmet expectations for customers.

Each of these issues contributes to the ultimate suffering of an organization — an organization that’s unable to keep employees happy, let alone meet its long-term goals. In fact, DevOps experts suggest that approximately $2.6 trillion of value is untapped each year, due to the inefficiency of technology (Kim et al., 2016, p. xxix).

As an example, back in 2009, Etsy struggled with inefficient workflows and long lead times. Site updates were disastrous, translating into immense downtime, frustrated customers, and lost revenue.

But, with fresh ideas and new management, Etsy successfully applied DevOps principles to transform into a leading organization — one that can now smoothly deploy over 50 times a day.

DevOps aims to reverse the odds stacked against IT, and ultimately turn an inherent “problem” into a strategic solution.

How Can DevOps Help?

DevOps primarily focuses on two initiatives: the optimization of your current business, and transformation into new business opportunities. Before you begin your DevOps transformation, you must first ask what you’d like to achieve. What is your “why” for adopting DevOps?

Those who focus on business optimization might aim to:

  • Improve customer experience
  • Increase customer value delivery
  • Improve employee productivity
  • Improve employee and customer retention
  • Diminish cultural divides

On the other hand, organizations that take a transformational approach will focus on the ultimate growth of the business. This might include:

  • Production of new products
  • Expansion into new markets and industries
  • New revenue streams
  • New customer and employee experiences
Optimization and Transformation with DevOps Chart

Evaluating your organizational goals will give you an idea of where to begin. (But don’t be fooled into thinking you have to pick one area over another.)

In many cases, organizations find that they can unlock the ability to transform over time through optimization. Optimized business practices allow for more time to experiment, explore new ideas, and build and deploy at a faster pace (Kim et al., 2016, p. xxiii).

But What is DevOps?

So, what is DevOps exactly? DevOps isn’t a “quick fix.” It’s a set of principles that lead to the holistic transformation of an organization. By our definition, DevOps consists of six major components that work in harmony to achieve positive business outcomes. These are:

  • Culture & Organization
  • Lean & Agile Practices
  • System & Data Architecture
  • Continuous Delivery
  • Observability
  • Infrastructure & Operations

When performed well, these practices take companies from good to great and can help your team reach its full potential. While you may already focus on one or more of these initiatives, take a moment to consider each element and the impact it could have on your business

DevOps and Setting the Right Expectations

Before embarking on your DevOps journey, the proper expectations must be set. Real transformation takes time, and in many cases, meeting your business objectives could take much longer than you think. Our experts recommend mapping out a 3- to 5-year plan of execution, depending on the needs of your business. Planning a consistent, step-by-step approach will not only set realistic expectations but also strengthen your organization over time.

As an example, Bank of America began a major cloud migration back in 2012 and are still working to complete their transformation. However, after seven years of patience and persistence, they have saved billions in hardware costs, and improved customer interaction. By the end of 2019, they’ll have successfully moved 80% of their infrastructure to their private cloud, with plans to complete the remaining 20% in the years to come. A slow and steady migration helped them gain confidence in their cloud operations, gather insight into clients, and make a major shift without impeding business operations.

In Veracity’s Guidebook: Navigating Your DevOps Journey, John Esser discusses the value of creating a multiyear DevOps transformation plan. This roadmap should be designed to cover many unique facets of your organization, mapped out over 3-5 years, as discussed above.

Consider the following example. Per Esser’s chart, a successful Process transformation might start with Lean/Agile training in year one, before beginning to scale into year two. By year three, your team has scaled successfully and can begin boosting efficiency through targeted dependency reduction. In just three years, you’ll have taken the steps to create change that lasts.

Achieving a lasting DevOps transformation is not easy, but with the proper planning and a paced approach, your organization can:

  • Make changes without disrupting your current business Rushing in too early will cause more chaos than harmony through tricky transitional phases.
  • Keep management on your side Overpromising big results in short timelines will only lead to frustration when things don’t go as planned. By getting executives on track with proper expectations, you will minimize conflict and pressure to deliver when the going gets rough.
  • Achieve lasting, holistic change Deep-rooted change will always last longer than short-term success. To reap the full rewards of DevOps, you must begin your transformation from the inside out, setting yourself up for success in the long term.
  • Avoid employee frustration and burnout There is always a limit to the amount of change people can absorb at once. By delivering change in small doses, you will avoid overload. Help employees buy into the long-term vision to keep them motivated to reach success.

How to Begin Your DevOps Journey

If your business is looking for a change, DevOps could be your answer. With the right tools, principles, culture, and implementation, DevOps has the power to not only shift the fate of IT, but also transform your organization.

It’s time to shift the perception of IT and turn an inherent problem into a valuable, strategic solution. If you’re ready to embark on your DevOps Journey, download the Veracity Guidebook: Navigating Your DevOps Journey, and book a free hour with a Veracity expert.

Your DevOps transformation starts with Veracity.


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