The Evolution of DevOps and the Agile Organisation

ecs-admin 28th April 2016

DevOps has become the latest ‘must have’ in the IT environment.

As software has become a key differentiator between many organisations, collaboration and the ability to respond to change is now vital. Although DevOps has become a bit of a technology buzzword – seen as the solution to the pain of an IT infrastructure unable to keep up with the demands of business – this is perhaps out of sync with where businesses are today and the value that DevOps delivers in the current environment.

A recent lunch debate between a group of business technology leaders came to the conclusion that DevOps is in fact no longer purely about tech, it actually has the opportunity to change business culture. And it’s true – what started out as a specific solution to something that was seen as a tech problem has now evolved into an organisational culture that allows companies to respond quickly and effectively to change.

Taking it back to the beginning: The birth of DevOps

Whilst it sounds like a technical methodology or process, DevOps is actually about changing the culture around the application of technical or software changes. 

Just over seven years ago, the DevOps way of working was established to help organisations with non-collaborative cultures to kick-start collaboration. Initially centred around IT, DevOps promised to remove the “wall of confusion” between Developers and Operations; to help Developers become closer to the teams testing and operating their software, so that they could deliver in a more agile way.

Think back seven years and it’s clear that organisations operated quite differently back then to how they do today. In many organisations change was viewed as “risky” – especially within IT departments, where their role had always been to help companies avoid risk and to a certain extent, protect the status quo.  As business started to push IT harder, something tangible needed to be bought in to encourage the interaction of different teams.

The DevOps explosion

Today, organisational culture has changed.

Change is no longer viewed as risky, but profitable. In fact, a recent Puppet survey suggested that the change success rate between high and low performers in IT can be as much as 60x. The same survey tells us that when employees have high satisfaction, underpinned by collaborative processes, they perform better.

As a result, agility is no longer just a methodology for IT, but a way to improve outcomes across an organisation. 

The wider business has seen the benefits on offer, and many are looking to apply these principles further.  Companies are no longer buying into a buzzword, but the outcome of increased performance that a collaborative culture brings with it.

Of course, when it comes to agility, there are companies that understand and apply agile principles within their organisation, and those that don’t.  Those companies that have already adopted agile are not necessarily looking for a catalyst, but for something that fits with this new way of working.

The evolved DevOps

So how can DevOps continue to support when companies are beyond the catalyst stage?

Members of the afore mentioned lunch debate reached the conclusion that “organisations with a community that came together were able to use DevOps to greater success”. Of course, DevOps is applied in this case to achieve a slightly different set of outcomes, and so, has evolved to fit the organisation.

In such situations, DevOps needs to be more than a “catalyst” for agility, and instead a way to match the speed of the rest of the organisation. Put simply, for collaborative organisations, successful DevOps allows the effective application of continuous delivery.

The Agile consultancy

The DevOps evolution means that the role of consultancies like ECS Digital has changed. Consultancies need to increasingly understand the cultural shift towards collaboration and how DevOps can be adopted by different organisations, in different ways.

It is now more important than ever that customers find the right DevOps partner: they need to kick the tyres and find out whether their partner will encourage a long-term cultural change or whether they’re just about making software delivery faster.

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