DevOps and why it should matter when selecting your technology partner

    Find the answers to questions like ‘what is DevOps' and why it should grab your company's attention when selecting a technology partner.

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    You might have heard the term DevOps and wondered if it is a new process, a new technology, a job title or something entirely different. Or maybe you’re more tech-savvy and automatically thought about continuous delivery, agile and infrastructure as code. But it is much more than that.

    What is DevOps?

    Definitions vary, but as the name suggests, DevOps integrates the two traditionally separate development and IT operations teams in order to emphasize efficient communication to improve collaboration and productivity.

    "DevOps is the practice of operations and development engineers participating together in the entire service lifecycle, from design through the development process to production support."  
    The Agile Admin

    The books “The DevOps Handbook” and “The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win” complete the definition in “three ways”:

    What is DevOps?

    #1 Emphasizes the performance of the entire system, i.e. to increase frequency of deployments and improves the time to implement changes or new solutions.

    #2 Is about creating the right to left feedback loops for successfully monitoring, measuring and improving operations every day.

    #3 Focuses on creating a culture that fosters innovation through experimentation and continuous learning.

    The ultimate goal of DevOps is focusing on the customers’ needs and their business outcomes, and on satisfying that need with each launch or update. This is achieved with a culture built around the quick release of high-quality technology applications. As the 2017 State of DevOps Report helps to quantify, DevOps allows business solution providers to deploy code 46 times more frequently with 440 times faster lead times; have 5 times lower change failure rates and recover from downtime 96 times faster.

    But how does this turn into advantages for customers? Why should companies draw their attention to DevOps oriented technology partners?

     

    Key benefits for customers

    I am a DevOps Evangelist and became team coach about a year ago. The team consists of technical and business consultants with focus on ECM product implementations (OpenText’s Captiva, Documentum and InfoArchive and BOX). We were delivering projects on time and within budget but morale was not on the expected level, so it became clear pretty fast that our project methodology could use a refresh. We set out to introduce DevOps and change the culture and way of working in our company.

    At AMPLEXOR DevOps is all about improving the flow from development to customer and back, to help us deliver the best possible results and overall experience to the end-users. The key benefits of DevOps which we have experienced are:

    • Faster implementation of new products and features

    By writing software in small chunks that are integrated, tested, monitored and deployed –usually in hours versus weeks or months in traditional methodologies –  we are able to implement changes or offer new solutions faster and more often. In short, we improved our ability to solve customers’ Enterprise Content Management challenges and reciprocated to their needs efficiently.

    • High quality and more stability 

    More speed didn’t compromise on quality. While continuous delivery by itself is a high quality service indicator, we were also able to reduce unplanned work and rework, as well as the time spent dealing with security issues. The cross-disciplinary approach of DevOps maximizes reliability in all areas. Our higher response rate to any requests also adds up to increased stability, which is key for any business platform.

    • Quicker detection and resolution of problems

    Thanks to better communication and collaboration between operations, software development and customer teams, we improved the feedback loops to quickly mitigate software defects at any stage of the development cycle. In the event of a new release crashing or otherwise disabling the current systems, we were also able to accelerate recovery from downtime. This allows us to proactively identify and resolve vulnerabilities before they impact our customers.

    • Reduced human errors

    Research shows approximately 30% of the development process can be automated, including configuration management, testing, deployments and change approval processes. Replacing cookbooks for all these tasks with automated procedures helps in getting a steady output to our customers, by having the code base in a ready-to-deploy state, and reduces manual mistakes which could otherwise happen.

    • Increased added value and innovation

    By reducing change failure rates and downtime recovery times, our cross-functional teams had more time to collect and implement customer feedback, even at early stages. From these inputs, they could change requirements or specifications, giving them more room to innovate and provide more value to the customer. Improved communication, knowledge sharing and experimentation implicit in DevOps also spreads innovative ideas more easily through all the customer projects.

    • Improved employee attitude

    We also used a Guild approach, which provides a horizontal communication layer across our Product Engineering teams. Our engineers, testers, and other staff use them to set their own missions, to establish technical roadmaps, to take on joint tasks and to promote knowledge sharing. This initiative, combined with the increased involvement of all in the development lifecycle, leads to happier, more collaborative and productive teams, and this culture shift is likely to spread outside the company.

    Conclusion

    As businesses pursue digital transformation strategies, there’s an increasing need for rapid and continuous deployment of business platforms such as Content Management and collaboration technologies. These platforms can be synonymous with innovation, and the sooner this innovation gets implemented, the better for the company.

    The solutions provider’s performance becomes crucial to enable customers to achieve their mission and remain competitive, and this is where the DevOps methodology comes to play. You’ll get faster updates, which means happier end-users and the ability to provide better customer service. Ultimately, the high performance of your technology partner can be converted into high performance of your business.

    Published on 13/11/17    Last updated on 01/08/18

    #Content Management, #Project Management, #Software Development

    About the author

    Dennis Van Aelst is an ECM consultant and Team Coach at AMPLEXOR, based in The Netherlands. As OpenText Captiva product specialist, he focuses on structuring, automating and managing business processes. Uses Agile and DevOps continuous delivery best practices, Dennis creates team working environments where business continuity, transparency and human capital come first.

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