The word “Transformation” means different things to different people depending on the context you ask that question, and the same goes to the term “Digital”. Therefore, when we talk about Digital Transformation, it is definitely not going to be an easy answer. However, in the context of this topic, I use the definition as “Digital Transformation is the Transformation of Technology which can be leveraged to fundamentally change how you operate and deliver value to your customers”. This article aims to cover some of the common areas around application of DevOps practices and principles and provide certain clarity on how to integrate in your digital transformation journey.
I will take enterprise context such as Banks or Telecom providers. Banks or Telecom providers are associated with large number of end-users / consumers and these consumers are engaged with their service providers through various channels whether it is website, mobile apps, e-commerce apps or social media platforms. Hence it becomes essential to develop and continuously enhance software to support these various channels and platforms with best customer experience. Therefore, to facilitate organizations to innovate fast and give their consumers the best possible experience, the technology and the technology teams need to undergo a huge transformation to deliver this demand.
Since technology and the technology team are going to play a critical role in enhancing organization’s ability to deliver services and increase value to customer, the adoption of DevOps plays an important role here.
Fig : Integrated SDLC flow for DevOps
DevOps will make sure that software meets the desired quality standard, ensures smooth development and deployment process, ensures right balance of security and operational needs and therefore enhance customer’s overall experience.
What role does DevOps play in this digital transformation journey? To answer this question, let’s look at various elements of digital transformation and their relation with DevOps.
Key elements of Digital Transformation where DevOps plays an important role are:
- Customer experience: Customer experiences can make or break your business. So, it is essential to provide a delightful customer experience to them. In my view, DevOps can act as a healer in these circumstances as it allows you to develop, test and deploy software faster and respond to customer feedback better and manages customer expectations.
- New Technology Integration: This one is my favorites because the pace at which new-age technologies like containerization, server-less computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine learning (ML) are making their presence in businesses and changing the game altogether. The application of these emerging technologies are forcing organizations to look towards DevOps methodology as they are compatible enough in dealing, managing and testing these models faster and bring their ideas to the reality to serve their customers better.
- Workforce enablement: No one can deny the fact that digital and mobility are changing not just the customer expectations but also the way organizations interact with their customers. So, the organization needs to ensure that its technology team have the right tools and technologies in place to explore, experiment and develop software faster and better. This can easily be achieved with the help of DevOps adoption as it will facilitate automate and optimize their processes and workflow without wasting their valuable time and efforts.
- Operational agility: The speed at which businesses are hitting hard by digital transformation, it becomes essential for them to understand and align these new and changing priorities. By adopting DevOps, the organizations are breaking silos, embracing collaboration and infusing the elixir of agility so that they can deliver better customer experience and at the same time ensure a high level of customer satisfaction.
- Culture and Leadership: Every successful digital transformation and DevOps implementation requires a leader that has an ability to create an environment and culture where collaboration and sharing are encouraged. And this can only be achieved by giving all stakeholders a transparent visibility into every aspect of the process and workflow across development, testing, release and customer feedbacks. DevOps can help to provide relevant data inputs to setup the required telemetry for a transparent visibility.
With plethora of articles on this subject you can easily see confusion around the topic. The main reason for this confusion is attributed to divergent interest of siloed organization, mindset with resistance to change and lack of skills. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that we need to fundamentally change how we operate and deliver value to our customers. To make it possible, let’s have a look at the other essential technical factors that can help you in building an effective DevOps strategy.
- Automation: Automation is certainly not a curse; it is a blessing. As I have already mentioned above that DevOps is all about breaking down the traditional barriers and streamlining processes. And all this is possible because of automation can pass through all silos to make an end-to-end process and experience better. It will also make repeatable processes error-free and can deliver result quicker with more efficiency.
- Adoption of Open Source Technology: Open source has always been the first choice for DevOps teams as it allows them to innovate faster and at a lower cost. You usually don’t have to pay money to acquire open-source software. That’s why it has become the first pick against proprietary alternatives where vendor locking is one of the basic criteria. Not only this, open-source software is built with the enhanced collaboration which can lead to more innovation and flexibility.
- DevOps Orchestration Framework: To rightly implement DevOps strategy you can get countless benefits that one can think of. Therefore, look at all areas of strong collaboration between the teams, continuous release and deployment, testing, monitoring, and easy detection and resolution of issues. The diagram below indicates various areas of software development and operational aspects that needs to be considered as an integrated and converged orchestration model to implement DevOps.
Let us look into some of the best practices for implementing DevOps in this digital era:
Some of the Best Practices for Implementing DevOps
- A Perfect blend of DevOps strategy with the business – Just like the right stepping stone is required for the strong foundation. Similarly, the right blend of IT and business strategy is need of the hour. If they are not aligned together then DevOps will not be successful.
- Handpick the right project– Choosing the right project at right time for implementing DevOps is one of the difficult and essential tasks. Make sure to choose such projects that differentiate your business.
- Invest on result-oriented platforms – While selecting the platform and tools for DevOps to improve your current processes, you should always keep in mind to pick those ones that have known for its flexibility and ease of implementation. Because sometimes testing new tools can lead to a huge time consuming in terms of resolving existing bugs and incompatible issues to your platform of choice. Thus, it should be wisely picked.
- Make Automation a priority: DevOps is a focal point around which organizations can shape their digital transformation strategies. Therefore, the way technology is automating every aspect of process and workflows irrespective of its size, complexities and one should not forget to automate to enjoy the benefits of DevOps.
The next step is to integrate AI/ML models to your DevOps implementation to learn patterns, anticipate problems and suggest solutions in the following areas
- App Performance
- Data access bottlenecks
- Common alerts (Infra, Networking, and Application layer)
- Common failures during application testing
- Telemetry from business channels
According to Forrester Research “50% of organizations surveyed said they are implementing DevOps and are increasingly focused on how their organizations can successfully accelerate the delivery of applications and services — without additional headcount.”
“Those organizations that are enjoying its benefits have reported 60% higher revenue and profit growth than others. Moreover, the companies were 2.4 times more likely than the rest of the organizations surveyed to grow their businesses at a rate of over 20%”.
However, still, there are a majority of organizations that are missing out on the extensive benefits of DevOps e.g. faster delivery time to market and higher customer satisfaction, etc. So, the question still arises that why organizations are still struggling to embrace these practices?
It has been found that the organizations that are reluctant in adopting this growing field are plagued by barriers like cultural, skills leadership, investment, skill gaps, etc. To make it into a successful investment it is important to first understand how to implement it correctly and the benefits that one can derive from it.
While there is no sure shot mantra for success, but there are many real examples that showcase the success. Though DevOps tend to be overused term but it is an ongoing journey that will set a standard for the next generation of enterprises. It will be here to stay because it brings practicality, profitability and valuable asset for today’s organizations and at the same time help open new business avenues faster to market.