To the CIOs afraid of DevOps: You’re missing out

IT is all about innovation. 

Just five years ago, DevOps was virtually unknown. Yet, in the last two years, it has become possibly the hottest area in enterprise technology. You only have to look at the number of DevOps tools and conferences that have emerged to see just how big the interest around it is.

But DevOps is not just a buzzword. Today, a growing number ofmajor enterprises use DevOps, and some of the biggest International conferences (take DockerCon – now in its 3rd year and due to attract 4000+ delegates) are centred around DevOps.

The only reason it’s been able to grow to such scale, is because there really are tangible business benefits.

So why then, are there so many CIOs afraid of implementing DevOps?

DevOps is moving up in the food chain. A decision to invest in DevOps is likely to be made as far up as the CIO’s office: even when implementing DevOps from the bottom up, the C-level need to be on board to ensure it fits with the direction of the organisation.

The CIO role is perhaps the most rapidly evolving of all C-level positions. A glance at this year’s CIO 100 will tell you that for many, agile and digital are now the foundations upon which the role is built.

But there are still many who have a more traditional view. For these CIOs, a view based on a lifetime of carefulrisk-averse decision-making and maintaining the status quo is hard to shift. Such a distinct change in approach towards a focus on speed and agility is a big leap to make.

For others, DevOps is less accessible because it lacks hard value of return. Unlike the tangible agile manifesto, DevOps is simply a word with provisional principles. There is no definitive way of doing DevOps, and this can be hard to relate to.

Why should a CIO implement DevOps?

I could wax lyrical about the numerous business benefits of DevOps (and a good place to start if you want to learn more is the Puppet State of DevOps report). Key business values are continuouslybroken down into the following three categories:

At ECS Digital, we like to build upon this.  Our methodology for extracting business benefit from DevOps is:

  • People

Collaboration. Breaking down of silos. Cross-functional teams. DevOps aims to get everyone in the organisation rowing in the same direction. Once achieved, this brings with it, the business benefit of speed (imagine the time that could be saved if Ops knew what was about to be thrown their way and could prepare by pre-writing test cases).

  • Processes

DevOps helps to streamline processes from beginning to end: to find and remove bottlenecks and quality gates in the name of improving time to market.

  • Tools

The use of tools to automate processes increases both consistency and quality, since the loss of manual tasks removes room for error.

How are the CIOs missing out?

If the business benefits of dramatically increased speedquality and consistency weren’t enough, CIOs that haven’t yet implemented DevOps are missing out in a big way when it comes to business innovation.

The ability to innovate and disrupt your industry is one of the main priorities for CIOs in 2016. Big, complicated companies that are slow to market are beginning to be disrupted by newer and more collaborative competitors who can react quicker to change.

The saying “If you’re not innovating, you’re falling behind” has never been more true.

Take Mondo: an aspiring “app-only bank”, founded in 2015, now valued at £30 million. Growth of this speed and scale has been made possible only through effective DevOps. And Mondo is just one fintech company that has given the Finance industry a well-needed kick-up-the-butt. Major banks such as Lloyds are suddenly beginning major DevOps initiatives in response to the threat of disruption.

Is DevOps for everyone?

Naturally, DevOps is easier for companies that are able build their culture from scratch.

Implementing DevOps in large, legacy organisations can be harder, but by no means impossible.  You may be surprised to know that some companies now truly succeeding at DevOps are large, pre-established companies.

Remember the business values that we covered earlier?

  • Speed: Amazon now deploys code every 11.7 seconds (on average)
  • Quality: Etsy deploys with far fewer disruptions than when the company used a waterfall approach
  • Consistency: Netflix engineers deploy code thousands of times per day

Whatever company size or structure, DevOps can be made to work: and it helps to have an experienced team to support the transition. Whilst a DevOps agency cannot remove the chance of failure (for failure in DevOps is guaranteed), a skilled agency will act as a parachute to minimise the damage. It is, after all, that successful DevOps culture that allows speedy detection of and recovery from failure.  Blameless post mortems ensure that fear of failure is no longer a barrier to innovation.

What does the future hold?

Organisations will forever look for ways to improve the speed, quality, consistency [and cost] of IT. DevOps is the latest trend, following on from agile, and five years from now there will be new methodologies that we haven’t yet thought of.

My guess is that, by then, most companies will have already adopted DevOps in one way or another: It will be part of the everyday life of running an organisation.

Companies that fail to implement DevOps, seriously risk missing out and being overtaken by those that are consistently quick at successfully responding to change.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how DevOps could help your organisation, our Maturity Assessment provides recommendations specific to your business on how to adopt and realise the benefits of DevOps and Continuous Delivery.

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