Do you wear sandals to work? Own a satchel, have a beard, call yourself a hipster? If you are a “Suit”, as our more far-out technical colleagues might think of us... this is for you.
So what is this devops thing all about? We are in business to do the best job we can for our shareholders and that’s it. We manage things and people and change. I am writing this mini blogette because it seems to me that those in the know have inadvertently forgotten about us. It might be useful, it might not be, but to be honest at least I will have got it off my chest. I see the business benefits of devops with our clients every day. Large organisations who would, on the face of it, who should, on the face of it, have this licked – it's that important. The reason why devops is gaining unparalleled levels of interest and this year's investment is because it builds shareholder value. As an industry, as experts, your advisors and partners fail to address the reasons why you should look at devops… well, to put it more accurately, it's been too easy to stay in the technical realm by talking in techno speak to techno people about techno things. Not a business case in sight. If you are tired of being presented with requests for investment that are based on the premise that you somehow understand the mysteries that everyone else seems to understand but without the years of 'doing' what that developers, test managers, service managers and the rest have, then I hope this explanation of why it's important will be useful. If you have read this far I reckon it will.
So, we are very lucky in many ways. We have grown up from the very beginnings of mass technology in business. Information Technology that helps us do more for our customers which in turn has offered competitive opportunities that makes winners and losers out of us all. Many of us began work when things were more simple. I'm older and began work not too long after mainframes were the only way and as the personal computer was taking off. The reality is that globalisation of the markets in which we operate, the way we work now, the way our customers choose and buy products and ignoring the rules by which we all need to abide has nasty commercial side effects have combined to bring us to this precipice.
One thing is for sure - I want to be on the winning side and we are at another fork in the road… winners and losers will emerge. Market leaders will fall and 'born on the web' companies will continue to astound… if someone says "unicorn" one more time!
What's happened and how did we get here?
This is my view of what's happened from the mid '80s to now. No apologies. In the '80s hardware manufacturers made systems of memory processors and disk and put them all in one (big) box. And sold them as the next greatest thing. The choice was which manufacturer and then which financials package and which applications would run on it. Payroll was outsourced or, as we said then, run by a payroll bureau. My experience was in the IBM world. I understand there were other worlds as well. We received orders through the post for system 36 and system 38. Hundred thousand, two hundred thousand pounds and the AS/400 the Application server. The choice of application dictated what hardware you bought or the other way around. Organisations started connecting up their suppliers and in some cases customers, and we all began probably in the early 90s to see what the internet could do… screen scrapers were all the rage. The world wide web bought more opportunities. Marketing got involved. Customers and innovation got involved and soon IT was being asked to deliver changes and additions in functionality. We all employed coders to help stitch our applications and websites together so we could offer more features to the same people and reduce the cost and complexity of managing change so we could take advantage of hitherto uncommercial markets. The whole process of running a business positioned IT closer and closer to the centre of what was going on. For the market leaders who got it, the nearer the middle IT was, the more nimble and faster the time to market for profitable innovations was.
Development teams got bigger. Customers and our businesses demanded more. Programmers were overwhelmed so designed new ways of doing things. Code generators, open source, IDE’s and Java/.net and the rest of it. Projects used to fail, run late and over budget. Making changes to software were big deals, took ages and relied on impossible odds of success. Requirements were badly managed, agreed and communicated, testing was an after thought...security wasn’t a thought at all. We had massive moments when we decided to release huge upgrades to applications which, by the very nature of the time taken from start to finish, were often out of date by the time they went live. The team responsible for keeping those huge boxes we spoke about earlier got more and more frustrated and we all saw an increase of pressure in the system; combine that with everyone having to do more for less, Agile was born. This involved smaller developments (sprints) with more testing earlier in the process as well as a better handle on requirements and sometimes even some measurement. This software development lifecycle (SDLC) or pipeline aimed to get upgrades and releases out there to our customers more quickly with less errors and more thought and easier metrics due to smaller incremental changes being easier to deliver than the massive ones. Release weekends still very much part of the cycle... holidays cancelled... anxiety and stress, and when things were successful it wasn’t celebrated and when things didn’t work people shouted at each other. Agility only applied to the development process.
Simply doing less in less time didn’t fix all the problems, didn’t offer you the best chance of making more for your shareholders. Yes we weren’t making massive mistakes that took ages to realise and fix. But, and its a big but, key bits of your company were not engaged properly.
The DevOps Loop
DevOps takes that software development pipeline and turns it into a loop whilst adding all the key stakeholders so you can do things better, faster and safer because better, safer and faster means more value to your shareholders.
All the stuff about shifting left you may have heard about all makes sense. Failing faster makes sense. Smaller feedback loops and testing throughout the development cycle is part of that and building quality in with specialist application security products is all part of it. Providing a single view of how your IT is married to the results of your business is a must have. Speaking the same language means training is important but we need you to see and sponsor the positive increases to your shareholder value.
DevOps is more than that though. Working out how you identify the need for change. How you make those changes. How you measure the effects of those changes. Can you do all that better than your competitors so that you can win more customers or make more profit or both?
Above all, it means involving the complete business at all stages of the process. Some of the most successful companies in the world are becoming even more successful and those that were failing are now succeeding. Ignoring the potential DevOps factor is to ignore a very natural and logical, easy to manage and measured evolution of the way you work.
The State of DevOps Report for 2016 (Puppet and Dora researched 4600 technical professionals) talks about how high performing IT organisations deploy up to 200 times more, recover 24 times faster, fail 3x fewer and 2555 faster lead times. Employees are 2.2 more times as likely to recommend their employer to friends, 1.8 times to recommend their team as a great working environment. They spend 22% less time on unplanned work. They spend 50% less time resolving security problems. All of this makes your business more successful. We have actual case studies with ROI and business cases to share.
If you are interested in how you could help explain the potential benefits to devops for you and your organisation, how you can become better, faster and safer we have developed a series of easy to implement strategies designed for business people… just like me… just like you, hit the big green button below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.