Intelligent Tech Channels Issue 17 | Page 52

EXPERT SPEAK Do you have a business case for DevOps? Introducing DevOps carries a degree of uncertainty writes George Spafford at Gartner. George Spafford, Research Director at Gartner. W ith digitalisation, there is a critical need to support businesses that must operate at higher speeds and with greater agility. This has resulted in DevOps growing quickly and becoming key to many organisations in their pursuit of competitive advantage. Although DevOps delivers compelling business advantages, many organisations struggle to benefit from DevOps initiatives due to uncertainty about how to approach them. DevOps challenges conventional IT thinking with its lack of a standard definition and approach, its constant evolution, and its management of risk. This imprecise target state has caused many IT organisations to hesitate in implementing a DevOps strategy. Gartner defines DevOps as a business- driven approach to deliver solutions using agile methods, collaboration and automation. However, it is important to define the initiative in terms that your organisation will understand. Picking a label for your initiative to provide a banner for people to identify with and support will help to get them on board. The definition should be short, focused and supportive of the business justification. A DevOps initiative must focus on business requirements and not on doing DevOps for the sake of DevOps, wherein the methods and tools become more important than what customers need. Organisations must avoid the all-too-common mistake of launching a DevOps initiative before establishing 52 that a business reason exists to do so. In addition, people are more willing to change when they understand the value to the organisation and to them directly. Do not deploy DevOps in a single step. DevOps must be deployed iteratively, with each increment satisfying all three of the following qualities: Politically friendly environment: This means that people are willing to work with the first-mover application and give the initiative a fair and honest try. Acceptable value: The first mover must deliver enough value to earn credibility and approval to continue. Acceptable risk: Because of the ambiguity and uncertainty surrounding DevOps, many people view it as risky and are afraid to begin. Organisations should identify an opportunity that involves an acceptable level of risk, because everyone – IT, operations, development, information security, regulatory compliance and audit – must learn. The core use case of DevOps is in agile development and situations with considerable uncertainty such as machine learning and Internet of Things, but because the DevOps philosophy can be applied broadly, there will be other opportunities to introduce concepts. The initial impact, however, will usually be better with systems of innovation because the existing capabilities likely cannot support these initiatives such as big data, machine learning, IoT and so forth. People are the main ingredient in a successful DevOps initiative. When selecting members of the initial team, emphasize behavior over skills. Teaching technical skills is easier than attempting to change wrong behaviors that can derail the DevOps effort. Look for a good team player who is smart, motivated, understands risk and is a committed lifelong learner, capable of working in new ways. In a DevOps initiative, objectives must be at the team level and aligned to the business objective given to the team. DevOps team members must realise that they all have the same objective, and metrics and incentives must encourage teamwork toward business goals as opposed to metrics that reinforce risk aversion and individual problem solving. A DevOps implementation includes an integrated toolchain that improves the flow of work and, ultimately, value. Linking all of the automation touchpoints and information flows speeds the movement of releases through the toolchain while managing risk, collecting data, while reducing human error, rework and outages. This will allow the tools used at each stage to be aligned and will provide a view on where automation, integration and tool hand-offs need to be achieved within and between stages. Do not derail a valid DevOps initiative by trying to scale before you are ready. Instead, bring together your team, start moving in the direction that seems to make the most sense and address the constraints encountered. Rapid learning and evolution must happen in terms of the people, the technologies and the processes.  Issue 17 INTELLIGENT TECH CHANNELS