There is an emerging trend towards Information Technology (IT) agility which is gaining impetus as the market demands flexibility and customised products and services.
Traditionally, IT companies provide the market with pre-determined packages which include a set selection of products and services, allowing little room for changes or flexibility.
However, with the demand for packages that can be moulded and customised to suit individual and varied requirements, IT companies need to adapt and respond quickly to answer that need or risk falling behind. Implementing a DevOps unit can assist IT companies to achieve this.
DevOps is a relatively new term. Emerging in 2009, it has only really made an impact over the last few years. As the word implies, DevOps combines development – typically of software – and operations, to form a single, effective unit in order to deliver products, services and subsequent changes or updates quickly and seamlessly.
A DevOps unit, or department, can enhance the effectiveness of collaboration between developmental and operational staff, minimising the issues traditionally experienced in the service lifecycle whilst speeding up delivery.
Businesses with customers that require customised services or changes to an existing service can make use of DevOps to enable these in real-time. There is no need to relay the requirement to the operations team, who in turn may or may not correctly relay the requirement to the development team to effect the necessary changes.
A team of resources who are skilled in both operational and developmental practices can ensure that these changes happen without the hassle of passing information down the chain, where processes and potential misinterpretation can result in costly delays.
“We are living in a time of instant gratification,” says Ravi Beldi, director of application delivery and pre-sales at In2IT. “Customers want services that meet their needs exactly and they want them delivered quickly. DevOps enables businesses to meet this demand. If a business is late to market, whether for a new product, service, or updating or customising an existing service, they may miss the window of opportunity.”
DevOps boosts operations, allowing companies to respond to their customer’s needs far quicker than traditional methods.
“If we look at the example of a call centre, customers with issues typically call in to report either a functionality problem or a software problem. This is then accordingly ‘ticketed’ and directed to either the operations or development team. With DevOps, a common helpdesk can address both scenarios and reduce a company’s service tickets by as much as 35%.”
The benefits of DevOps go beyond improving development and delivery times. Collaboration of development and operations also facilitates the automation of development and change control, allowing for better agility.
“Companies are able to gather information on their customer’s reaction to a product release or update that much quicker and can act upon the results without all the administrative red tape that usually follows a typical software change request,” adds Beldi.
Beldi informs that DevOps isn’t necessarily a separate division within a company, nor does it eliminate the need for having a separate development and operations department. DevOps is more of a partnership between the two, often created for a specific project where agility and speed is key. Development and operations are still required for day to day running as well as innovation. “DevOps ensures that project or product specific development and changes are suitably taken care of so that an IT company’s operational team can focus on the rest of the business whilst the individual development team can focus on finding the ‘next big thing’.”
There are several considerations to bear in mind when implementing a DevOps unit, not least of which is how long the unit will be required for. According to Beldi, proper documentation is required to ensure that both parties are fully aware of their roles and responsibilities, eliminating the usual finger pointing between the two departments that can occur in the course of a project.
Additionally, a proper impact analysis should be conducted for each change or customisation on a product or service. The collaborative nature of DevOps means that this analysis can be done with little fuss and the change can be implemented accordingly, with as little fuss.
“DevOps is a way of thinking which gives IT companies the confidence to act quickly based on market demands,” says Beldi. “They need to adjust their thinking to embrace DevOps and the benefits it offers, giving them an edge through agility and flexibility, and promoting a bigger market share.”