DevOps in The Age of Digital Transformation

DevOps plays a vital role in digital transformation. From identifying patterns to uncovering new revenue streams, DevOps and digital transformation complement each other because you can’t have one without the other.

Virtually every enterprise is looking to increase the cadence and quality of its business processes – to innovate faster, to get new products to market sooner, to adopt new and more productive ways of working, to accelerate customer service. They’re looking to become agile, digital enterprises to stay ahead, to increase market share, and introduce new products. That is why two-thirds of CEOs are now focused on digital transformation strategies, according to IDC.

The adoption of DevOps parallels the rise of digital transformation. Almost 75% of technology professionals across a broad cross-section of industries are now using DevOps techniques, according to a recent study by RightScale. The need for speed is a key drive of DevOps adoption: In the era of digital everything, the software is the source of differentiation, and DevOps is the key to accelerating the development and delivery of high-quality software.

Yet many companies have not fully realized that there is a direct connection between speeding up DevOps initiatives and expediting the digital transformation journey.


What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation involves harnessing the four digital disruptions of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (together knows as ‘The Third Platform’) to do something fundamentally different. The results of employing these technologies can result in significantly more efficient internal business processes, new business models or revenue streams or a completely new customer experience. Digital transformation involved using technology and innovation to achieve your desired business goals.

Digital transformation strategies are helping established companies in all industries cope with disruption and remain competitive. This is particularly pertinent in an age where start-ups enter established markets with new business models that can redefine a whole market overnight. In this digital age, it has been estimated that 6 of the top 20 companies in every industry will face serious disruption. Now more than ever, organizations are measured by the speed at which they deliver new products and services. A failure to digitally transform the enterprise could be catastrophic.

DevOps addresses the missing element that many Agile projects suffer at the execution stage, (when code is released unto production) – by including operational teams early enough in the development cycle – thereby avoiding deployment bottlenecks.

Digital Transformation needs to be underpinned by a solid platform to deliver and support new application, services, and technologies. DevOps provides this, allowing organizations to release updated frequently, glean customer feedback, improve and iterate.

One aspect of DevOps is it introduces the use of automated software to tackle monotonous and repetitive tasks. This has two key benefits; allowing staff to spend more time on the satisfying and creative elements of their job, and cutting instances of human error.

For organizations with Digital Transformation at the top of their agenda, success will be a lot faster if traditional approaches to delivering change in software projects (Waterfall, PRINCE2) are replaced with DevOps and Continous Delivery that enables Agile Development.

It is a common misconception of many organizations that DevOps just means introducing automated services. But automation is just one component to DevOps. The culture and development process DevOps introduces is also crucial to delivering value from digital transformation projects.

One of the key ways DevOps unlocks value within an organization is it removed silos (the communication barriers between teams), which means no one person or team becomes an obstacle to progressing software delivery.

IT leaders can take a lead in aligning Digital Transformation and DevOps using the ‘3 Is’:-

  • Innovate (with the business to create a digital enterprise);
  • Integrate (new digital capabilities with the existing enterprise platform); and
  • Incorporate (new techniques and technologies into the IT organization).

A DevOps-based approach to digital transformation is more holistic than Agile because it treats software delivery as a single unified activity, it fosters collaboration between small teams across different business units, and it treats the ability to deploy, maintain and scale as high-priority features from the outset.

How to accelerate DevOps to expedite the business outcomes of digital transformation:

1. Approach DevOps from a business perspective

If you see DevOps as a way to increase automation, for instance, you will make very different decisions about how to implement DevOps than if you’d focused on integrating tool sets. On the other hand, if you see DevOps as a way to accelerate innovation, or to increase market capitalization, or to achieve competitive differentiation through near- instant software change-and-deployment cycles, you will see the big picture perspective of what has to happen from a people, process, and technology perspective. However, if you see DevOps as a way to accelerate your digital transformation, you will male better decisions about how to structure your DevOps journey.

2. Automation

By automating testing processes, such as unit, functional, performance, and security testing, you can unburden highly talented, highly paid professionals from dull, repetitive, manual testing and give them time to explore new ways of working -and working together- that is more efficient and creative. And by automating delivery (release management and deployment processes), you can free DevOps teams to work together across platforms and operating systems, keep pace with critical updates, understand and execute on customer requirements more effectively, and iterate changes and refinements faster and with higher quality than ever.

3. Get the feedback you need for continuous improvement

Constant improvements to both applications and to the DevOps process itself are important goals, and this requires a feedback loop that accelerates the flow of feedback in all directions-from ideas into code and production, from production and operations back to application teams, and from business leadership to DevOps teams. The feedback loop should account for many different variables such as:

  • Bug reporting
  • Feature suggestions
  • Availability, performance, and usage monitoring
  • Instrumentation: Allowing more specific measures to be captured which are meant to be used as insights into future developments
  • Business use cases

Make the connection between DevOps and Digital transformation

In a business climate that’s all about speed and driven by software, DevOps is the key to superior business outcomes. If you want to accelerate the business results of digital transformation, start by accelerating your journey to DevOps. Stop listening to vendors who offer specific tools that are intended to solve specific technical issues. Get solid guidance from a technology-agnostic partner with DevOps expertise, an intensely business-focused approach, and local resources on a global scale.

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Prakash Pilley