Ashok Vasan, Vice President, Application Delivery, Asia Pacific & Japan, CA Technologies in an exclusive interaction with Dataquest talks about why DevOps is critical on the road to ‘Application Economy’. Excerpts
Why DevOps now and how do you see it panning out?
The world is currently undergoing an “Application Economy” revolution due to the increasing number of interactions taking place in the digital space. This is mainly facilitated by applications. Today, every brand, be it consumer centric or technology driven is experiencing this revolution. This has led to increased competition amongst enterprises to constantly innovate and survive in such volatile business conditions. To this end, DevOps offer opportunities for Indian CIOs to speed up the overall Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) to be more innovative through application innovation to cater to changing business requirements. DevOps harnesses the objectives of both, the development as well as the operations functions into a unified purpose – faster time to market and enhanced quality. Assuming, the software development life cycle (SDLC) is run optimally, the notion of automating releases takes a more heightened level of importance in achieving the objectives.
Today, India stands at a cusp of a digital revolution which is taking almost every business by storm. As a result, every business is technology driven. The proliferation of trends like BYOD is compelling CIOs to develop a well – rounded DevOps strategy focussing on continuous delivery which is the need of the hour for every enterprise. However, an important aspect to keep in mind is the fact that DevOps cannot be implemented in isolation. Enterprises need to adopt cloud and other virtualized technologies too, to achieve the desired results. CIOs are under immense pressure to deliver constantly – not only from customers who are constantly demanding newer applications and experience, but also from employees who need tools to be more productive. While India still has a long way to go in terms of warming up to DevOps, the need of the hour is for CIOs to become senior advisors that succeed in leveraging these new technologies like Cloud. DevOps will succeed only if enough measures are undertaken to train operations and development personnel towards achieving their common goal.
How will DevOps disrupt IT Organisations?
Disruptive changes occur much more frequently in the information technology (IT) sector than in most other areas. The velocities of these changes often illustrate the flaws in current IT organizational structures, skills and processes, which then yield unintended consequences. However, until recently, IT was relegated to a support role speaking; only when spoken to versus driving the overall business strategy. However, in the face of the emergence of consumerization of IT, mobile computing, big data, cloud computing, and an ever – changing economic landscape, a traditional IT organizational structure is now a millstone around IT’s neck and this has made it essential for businesses & IT to work in tandem.
This is where DevOps comes into the picture. DevOps is a methodology which helps foster collaboration between the teams that create and test applications (Dev) with those that maintain them in production environments (Ops). Momentum for DevOps has been driven by:
- Rapid proliferation of mobile devices and access to content and applications
- An increased requirement for a high volume of app releases by business stakeholders, a continuous and accelerated systems development life cycle as it were.
- Wider adoption of virtualization and cloud infrastructure
DevOps will not only change the face of IT but also businesses and lead to the emergence of a new order of enterprise functionality. With the emergence of cloud, the entire infrastructure stack, right from storage to networking can be virtualized. Software plays a pivotal role in managing these virtual environments. Hence, onus lies on the entire organization to take collective ownership to manage this automation. With user expectations constantly on the rise, the need for delivering new applications increases manifold. Hence, enterprises now need to evolve into business enablers. To this end, a new approach needs to be undertaken for Development and Operations teams to collaborate using shared goals and methodologies: the DevOps model.
Setting the stage for DevOps and adoption best practices
IT organizations built on traditional development practices experience roadblocks when adopting DevOps. Consider a project-by-project approach to DevOps, rather than a sudden and complete shift. Start with less-critical projects, identifying and correcting organizational roadblocks as they emerge. As the company culture and processes adapt to accommodate DevOps practices, the paradigm can be applied to more important and high-profile projects.
This then brings us to the key skills one needs to harness in this application driven world. The top skills required for DevOps are knowledge of business strategies and an understanding of current business processes. There are those who leave this up to senior management, however, given the current dynamics, they will lag behind from the rest of the competition.
Developers who lead the charge in their organization and adopt a DevOps methodology understand the importance of process improvements and collaboration across departments. Not only that, but they are also able to articulate the business and potential revenue implications of IT transformation to those up the food chain.
The next generation of developers can transform the business – and their careers – by embracing their role as a business liaison. For example, educating and familiarizing yourself with business finance terms. Knowledge of the overall priorities, strategies and metrics of the business is one of the top three skills many corporations look for now. DevOps implementation needs to be driven from the top, but strong leadership is important at all levels.
How a collaborative approach will make for an agile enterprise
Enterprise IT is now all about agility. With new-generation code and apps bringing us into the age of converged infrastructures and cloud computing, enterprises with legacy systems are challenged with keeping up with the complexities that come with these new environments. As a result, DevOps has come to the fore as a new business process aimed at overcoming complexities that IT, systems admins and developers face on a day to day basis. This collaboration increases agility and reduces friction between development and operations, resulting in faster software/application deployment and quicker problem detection .
Will it minimise conflict between development and operations.
Developers are normally consumed by the latest business and technology innovation, while operations teams focus on using technology to keep businesses running smoothly. Although, in one view, their approaches can seem almost in conflict, DevOps reframes their apparent conflict as a shared challenge, collaborating in the continuous delivery of business value. Since both work towards the same common goal, working together will not only help in minimising their conflicts but help meet customer demands at a faster rate, thereby leading not only to greater productivity but also customer satisfaction.
How can apps be deployed/redeployed with minimal lead times
In order for enterprises to keep up with their increasing customer demands, it is essential to create a deployment pipeline. It is essential in the current business environment to create an automate creation process. It is important to create a pipeline wherein we can deploy code in real time, entirely on demand and this is where DevOps enables us to embark on this journey smoothly. By employing these means, we can create apps on a faster rate and deploy it with minimal to almost no lead times at all.
Your views on outlook for DevOps
The road to DevOps has already begun for some and many others will be a part of it this year. Enterprises are recognizing that DevOps will enable them to develop faster, better quality applications, and more importantly, better align with their overall business objectives. We believe that while 2014 was the year DevOps gained widespread recognition, 2015 will be the year where DevOps will take centre stage and enterprises will take necessary measures to make it a pivotal part of their strategic business objectives.
With respect to India, DevOps is still at a very nascent stage with only 26% of Indian enterprises having adopted it till date. However, the road ahead does look bright with almost 52% organizations vowing to adopt the same in the next two years as a per a recent CA Technologies study. To this end, 59% of Indian IT leaders intend to acquire at least one acquisition in the next 12 months to add application development capabilities to their organization. The study further highlights the fact that an astonishing 70% of Indian enterprises expect to commit more budget dollars to training both- development and operations staff on the tenets of DevOps. All this points to the fact that Indian leaders are gearing up for the DevOps wave and 2015 is going to be the year of DevOps aided by cloud and virtualized technologies to meet the ever increasing customer demands.