DevOps: The Pathway to Stellar Digital and Business Results

DevOps is the key to unifying technology with business results. Customers abandon apps and sites if their expectations are not met almost instantly, so issues must be resolved earlier in the pipeline before end-users are impacted. This article highlights the need for adopting a DevOps culture and some best practices for doing so.

Today’s digital performance leaders don’t have a second to waste. Customers will abandon an app or a site if their expectations aren’t met almost instantly, and resolution of issues needs to happen before end-users are impacted. War rooms aren’t the answer; it’s far more productive to implement a culture focused on collaboration. If you can foster a DevOps culture, you will suddenly see time being spent on actually solving problems before they get to your users, rather than arguing and pointing fingers while your customers abandon your site or app.

Traditional processes generally play out as follows: Developers hand off to ops teams, ops teams hand off to test, and test hands off to production. The second their step of the process is done, teams typically wash their hands of the project. Performance considerations aren’t even taken into account until code check-in, and often the first indication a business gets that their app is buggy is when their customers start venting on Twitter. Then it’s time to head to the war room for hours of “blamestorming” before the problem even gets identified. This is no way to operate a business in today’s digital environment.

Leaders in this new landscape understand the manifesto espoused by Gene Kim, renowned DevOps guru and coauthor of The Phoenix Project: that DevOps is the key to unifying technology with business results in today’s digital ecosystem. After all, your IT department is ultimately there to deliver business results, so treating them as if they don’t exist until there’s an issue is no way to operate. A DevOps approach focused on collaboration and bringing every team into every step of the process is the best way to up your organizational agility and survive this treacherous landscape.

IT departments obviously want to embrace a continuous and collaborative IT delivery model to successfully meet growing demands for more features, faster. However, only DevOps masters who have successfully implemented a collaborative culture can do this without sacrificing performance. If you want to enable more and faster deployments with fewer problems, you need a DevOps culture built on multiple feedback loops, rather than a typical waterfall development process. Only with this kind of culture shift can each critical team have enough input at each step of the process to insure against performance issues.

Follow the Leaders

Google, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Etsy, Microsoft, and countless tech start-ups are leveraging the power of DevOps, along with the UK government and the US Department of Homeland Security. These organizations know today’s marketplace is driven by ever-increasing demands for features, speed, and reliability, so they must continuously deliver new value without disruption to their customers’ experiences.

How do they achieve this with boundless confidence in their digital performance? DevOps is at the core of their performance execution. It fosters a system-oriented perspective from all stakeholders and ensures that testing doesn’t take place too late in the development lifecycle to add its greatest potential value. If you do not integrate an automated testing discipline throughout the development lifecycle, testing teams will have to redo manual testing every time a code or configuration change is made, and problems will be found too late to make systemic fixes.

Also, if your teams are not working toward the same goals and being measured against them, they will act independently of each other. If expectations and tooling are not aligned, when there is a problem, the investigation involves a lot of guesswork and finger-pointing.

The other common challenge that DevOps addresses is when IT operations reports an ambiguous log message from the production environment, and developers can’t fix it because they are missing vital contextual information and a unified view of performance data across teams. The DevOps approach gives everyone a common holistic perspective that translates into an overall competitive advantage.

Yesterday’s IT Department

Developers blame ops and ops blames developers

Waterfall development

Performance considerations begin at code check-in

Deployments only one or two times a year

Change approval board required to deploy

Version control for code only or no version control at all

Failures found by network operations center or, worse, by customers

Today’s High-Performing DevOps

IT as a competitive advantage

High trust organization with shared goals

Continuous integration and delivery

Performance is a critical requirement, considered throughout the lifecycle

Multiple deployments a day

Peer review of code quality

Version control for code, system, application configurations, and data

Proactive monitoring to find failures first


Ensure a Strong DevOps Strategy

A recent survey of 1,400 organizations ranked performance monitoring and performance testing as critical for DevOps. You need to constantly have 360-degree visibility into everything taking place along the development lifecycle and in the production environment.

In pursuit of endless growth and advancing digital performance, there are several tools available to make DevOps a natural part of development and doing business. They foster collaboration among product management, development, IT operations, and technical support teams, allowing them to build more quality into their products and support the establishment of better feedback loops.

Application performance management tools can provide insight into performance throughout every step of the development lifecycle. They can also expedite collaboration between development and operations, with each considering the same performance metrics from early on in the development lifecycle.

Performance monitoring shouldn’t start in production. Tracking performance of automated tests, together with analytics to identify outliers, keeps performance problems from making it that far down the pipeline.

Building on Your Success

DevOps is a pathway to delivering stellar digital performance to your customers and significant business results to your company. Wherever you are in your journey—just starting out or deep into implementation—I encourage you to keep moving forward.

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