DevOps is not about making IT easier or more efficient; it stands or falls on how well it helps the whole organisation win, writes Jaco Viljoen, agile specialist at IndigoCube.
No generally accepted definitions for DevOps exist yet–the methodology is simply too young. However, one thing they all have in common is an emphasis on delivering benefits to the business itself; benefits to the IT department, while nothing to be sneezed at, are subsidiary.
The name comes from two words, “development” and “operations”, and really the core principle of DevOps is the integration of software development teams and their processes with operational teams and their processes, in order to ensure a smoother, quicker passage from initial brief to deployed software–with minimal bugs and faults. We are living in what some call an “app economy”, and the faster a company can take an application to market, the more competitive it is likely to be.
Speed to market is something that has value for business, but there is another side to the equation: safety or if you prefer, stability. Popular belief is that developers tend to prioritise speed over safety whereas, of course, operations types value quality because they have to deal with the fallout from faulty software. DevOps purports to close the gap by showing that safety/stability and speed are not necessarily trade-offs.
So sensible, but a genuine business case needs concrete data. Luckily, the 2016 State of DevOps Report can demonstrate that an investment in DevOps produces genuine returns. Among its high-level findings:
* DevOps high performers deploy 200 times more frequently than lower performers, with lead times that are 2.5 times faster. DevOps does improve speed to market.
* Employees of high-performing DevOps companies are twice as likely to recommend their organisation as a great place to work, something that other studies show correlates to better business outcomes.
* Because DevOps high performers spend 22 percent less time on unplanned work and rework, they are able to spend 29 percent more time on developing new features or code. Building quality into their processes yields benefits.
* DevOps high performers build security into their work practices and spend 50 percent less time on remediating security issues–again, time that can be spent on new work.
The Report develops a complex methodology for quantifying the savings to be obtained from DevOps. Obviously, the precise figure depends very much on the individual company – but let’s just peg it at 10% of engineering costs for argument’s sake. The important point made is that demonstrating savings alone does not make a complete or entirely convincing business case.
As the report says: “We’ve seen forward-thinking companies routinely go through a planning exercise to turn efficiency gains into innovation and value. What could you do at your company with 10% more engineering time?”
What indeed? Be sure to close the circle and clinch the business case by proposing how the savings from DevOps can be used to create growth.