DevOps – Eight Years In

Back to the beginning….

It’s been over eight years since the DevOps movement emerged from the first DevOpsDays held in Ghent, Belgium.  DevOpsDays, which started out as a way for both Dev and Ops practitioners to gather, as one tribe, in one room to discuss better ways of building and delivering software, has grown from that single event in 2009 to hundreds of yearly events across the globe.  And, thinking back to 2009, I’m sure the people who attended that first DevOpsDays had no idea what kind of impact DevOps would have on IT organizations eight years later.

In eight years,  DevOps has crossed the chasm to enterprise IT, or rather, it has been propelled across the chasm by the digital transformation of the marketplace.  It’s no coincidence that DevOps has become a priority.  In the digital age, there is no business innovation without software innovation, and companies that understand this are disrupting entire industries.  But, DevOps is not simply about transformation – it is about continuous improvement, and the organizations that fail to shift to DevOps ultimately put their own business at risk.

There will be winners and losers.  However, companies that can deliver software innovation and business value to the customer faster than their peers are breaking down traditional barriers to entry and winning in the marketplace.

My Eight Top Tips:

To celebrate DevOps being in it’s 8th year here are 8 areas that I think are vital to consider when implementing DevOps in large enterprises:

1) Think Big, Start Small – Look at the enterprise as a system, understand the constraints, and based on business objectives, remove them one-by-one.

2) Change the system to change the culture – Creating a DevOps culture of continuous improvement is critical, but a bad system will beat good people every time, making it impossible to manage the high level of change required for DevOps. Focus first on designing the work processes and toolchains that reinforce the desired behaviors.

3) Leverage existing investments – DevOps in the enterprise must bridge and recapture the value of existing technology investments or it will fail to deliver value quickly enough. By unlocking core business applications to new technologies, enterprises can scale DevOps practices using what already works; thereby, reducing time to value, risk, and cost.

4) It’s not just Dev and Ops – DevOps must apply to every group, platform, and process that supports the many different delivery pipelines of the enterprise.  Anything that impedes the flow of business value needs to be optimized.

5) Know where you are – You need to “See the System” and get a detailed picture of your current software delivery processes and how they align with your business objectives. Conduct a value stream mapping exercise focusing on the process and artifact flow, from the business request all the way to production. Identify what feedback loops are needed and where in the process are you spending the most time.

6) Prioritize by opportunity – Take the results from your value stream mapping exercise and align them with your business objectives. For example, if your business objective is to create capacity for innovation, you might start with optimizing tightly-coupled deployment pipelines as they will give you the most bang for the buck.

7) Optimize by pain – Your value stream mapping exercise should provide you with guidance on sources of waste and long lead times. A common place to start is with automation. Automating your environment provisioning, testing, and deployments will dramatically reduce manual effort, decrease lead times, and ultimately result in fewer production incidents.  Automation will also enable you to recapture capacity for innovation and redeploy it elsewhere – all at a lower cost.

8) Continuously Assess – Implementing Enterprise DevOps is a transformational journey where measurement and continuous assessment is needed to ensure IT is delivering what the business expects. Leveraging analytics across the entire toolchain will identify constraints and provide faster feedback; thereby, Improving accuracy of planning estimates, development time, test coverage, and cycle times. It will prevent problems and predict opportunities.

Looking forward, DevOps is still a work in progress, which is a good thing.  In the future, DevOps principles and practices will transform other organizations within the value chain, such as marketing, sales, and support. Practices like continuous delivery will migrate to new and different platforms.

Delivering true value

Eight years in and there is no end in sight.  DevOps is not a standard established by some group that must be adhered to or implemented, but rather it’s about establishing a culture where there is continuous improvement, forever. And, when organizations truly start to shift to a DevOps culture, they soon realize that DevOps removes barriers between teams and allows them to focus on what really counts –delivering customer value.

If you’d like our help in starting your DevOps Journey, make the most of our complimentary Value Profile Service.

And I’d love your feedback on this blogpost, especially more tips if you have them from your transition. Leave me a message in the comments field or find me on Twitter to talk more…….

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