Any organization adopting a DevOps approach is, by definition, also embracing a new way of working. One of the core aspects of DevOps, is the breaking down of traditional silos to create an environment in which developers work closely with operational colleagues and other key stakeholders involved in software delivery. This in itself requires significant changes to reporting and communications structures.
Any change within an organization requires an investment of time, expertise and money. Therefore, it is natural that leaders should assess the potential of DevOps in terms of what it will deliver: Managers should ask the question: What is to be gained by changing our current way of doing things?
The 2017 State of DevOps Report carried out by automation software vendor Puppet illustrates that DevOps delivers a broad range of measurable benefits. In the wide-ranging survey, Puppet polled 3,200 technology professionals, asking them about their DevOps experience. The results were emphatic. By adopting DevOps, the organizations taking part in the poll were able to deploy software more rapidly and effectively while lowering the associated risks.
The benefits amounted to something much more than a series of marginal gains and had the potential to make a significant difference to corporate performance.
1. Faster deployments
One of the key benefits of the DevOps approach is undoubtedly the ability to develop new systems more rapidly and to do so on a rolling basis, with input from developers, operational teams and other key stakeholders.
Using traditional methods, software is upgraded through an infrequent series of significant iterations. For example, a company might target an upgrade every 12 months to keep pace with customer expectations and the improvements introduced by competitors. The danger is that competitors have innovated much quicker, meaning that when the new service comes online it is already obsolete.
DevOps and Agile approaches enable companies to innovate on an ongoing basis rather than through iterations. The result is continual deployment. Puppet found that high performing IT organizations deployed 46times more frequently using DevOps when compared to low performers. Lead times were also a startling 440 times faster.
2. Improved recovery
In the digital age, IT failure is a constant danger. When systems go down, the result can be a reputational hit if the customer-facing side of the business is affected. Internally, IT problems are a drag on the bottom line.
The Puppet survey shows that DevOps reduces failure rates, while recovery times are 96 times faster. This is because DevOps encourages a continuous stream of small changes to be implemented which can easily be identified and rectified should an incident occur. Traditional methodologies which release hundreds of changes in one large deployment are inherently much more prone to failure.
3. Increased scope for delivering value
The adoption of DevOps creates an environment where continual delivery is the expected norm. This in turn creates optimal conditions for a relentless focus on innovation, feeding through to enhanced value creation via digital transformation.
4. Lean and flexible
DevOps encourages a lean and flexible approach to digital transformation. Major initiatives can be made more manageable by splitting the work into small packages or projects. DevOps practices result in improved data gathering and the ability to respond rapidly to customer and/or stakeholder feedback. Therefore deployments can be rolled out more quickly with a greater impact.
5. Reduced risk
Digital transformation comes with risks attached. Upgrading or replacing existing systems exposes companies to potential problems such as security weaknesses or flawed processes that didn’t exist prior to the changes.
The good news is that DevOps reduces such risks by incorporating security considerations into the software delivery lifecycle. This results in less remedial work and therefore less time spent addressing security issues.
6. DevOps for all seasons
Every organization’s requirements are different. Some will use legacy systems and software as the basis for their digital transformation. Others will start afresh, deploying greenfield applications to drive change. A third group might deploy so-called brownfield apps. The advantage of DevOps is that high performance can be still achieved, regardless of the origins of the underlying software.
7. HR matters
Human capital matters in any organization, both in terms of retaining existing staff and attracting new people. Much depends on how teams feel about the work they do and the contribution they make. In encouraging innovation and collaboration, DevOps promotes team satisfaction. The Puppet survey found that employees in high performing teams were significantly more likely to recommend their organizations to friends.
At the same time, DevOps enables managers to take a hands-on role in managing their teams – for instance, by promoting diversity and taking steps to reduce burnout.
DevOps in practice
In large enterprises, digital transformation tends to move forward in one or two yearly jumps and starts. The size and complexity of the company makes it difficult to innovate more rapidly.
This can have detrimental effect on competitiveness. DevOps, in contrast, accelerates the progress of digital transformation. An example of this is our work with a global mobile phone company that required major changes to its retail stock control systems in order to respond to customer demand. Significant software changes were required, but the cycle of change was too slow, with group-wide upgrades taking up to nine months.
Frustrated by these protracted schedules, the business adopted DevOps practices and succeeded in reducing its own upgrade cycle to just four weeks. This illustrates the real value of DevOps in terms of helping organizations to deploy at speed. With the concept proven, the wider business is set to adopt the methodology.
In our white paper – DevOps: Unlocking the Value from Digital Transformation – we explore the challenges and solutions to bringing Digital Transformation initiatives to organizations in a range of industries, and how DevOps can be deployed for success. To find out more about the benefits this can bring, please get in touch.
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