DevOps: It’s for Everyone

I am excited to write my inaugural blog post at GTRI. I’ve spent 20 years working with technology companies and […]

By zivaro|January 7, 2016|0 Comments

I am excited to write my inaugural blog post at GTRI. I’ve spent 20 years working with technology companies and leading application development teams. My official title at GTRI is Principal Cloud Architect, in our Cloud business unit. However, my passion is to help GTRI’s customers respond more quickly to IT challenges. As such, I’d like to discuss one topic that is top of mind for IT leadership today: DevOps.

In the enterprise, there seems to be a common misconception that DevOps only applies to “Web 2.0” companies. After a long career helping teams address pain during the application lifecycle process, I can proclaim that every business with IT can benefit from DevOps.

Most DevOps books and articles refer to web-scale companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook that update their production environments hundreds of times per day. Most academic definitions of the term refer to solving the age-old business problem of two key groups (IT and Development) working together to deliver application modifications and implementations faster. However, the benefits of DevOps extend far beyond application delivery. Not every business needs to push application updates several times per day, but all businesses can benefit from a proactive security posture, less downtime and better protection of their customers’ data. Not to mention that it is hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance when change windows are from midnight to 4:00 a.m. on Saturdays and the pager goes off several times per week.

Adopting DevOps practices goes beyond mediating the marriage between infrastructure and application development teams. Well-designed DevOps processes improve automation, monitoring, and the collaboration between Security, QA, Development and Operations. How often do we hear the word “silos” when businesses describe their problems? Overcoming the silo mentality is the type of ancillary benefit that DevOps provides. Call it the “five birds with one stone” method for fixing systemic issues and allowing IT shops to run in harmony, giving the business speed while lowering risks.

In the realm of improving security, I recently read a study by BMC and Forbes showing that known vulnerabilities cause most data breaches in the enterprise. According to the study, misalignment between security and operations teams results in more than six months of lag time before most operations teams can fix vulnerabilities, exposing enterprises to unnecessary risks, data loss and downtime. Businesses are more secure when operations teams can make production infrastructure changes quickly, plugging security holes in minutes rather than months. But wait, there’s more! According to the 2015 State of DevOps survey, organizations that adopt DevOps practices have “200x  shorter lead times; they have 60x fewer failures and recover 168x  faster.”
So, here’s my question to any company with IT: why wouldn’t you consider this framework?

Don’t get me wrong, I can tell you from experience that changing people’s behavior is the hardest part of adopting any new process, so leadership and accountability is more important than ever. DevOps can produce a culture of automation and continuous monitoring, resulting in a fast flow of work into production. People need to buy into the transformation, but ultimately DevOps is a proven model that businesses can adopt to reduce costs and downtime while improving security and productivity. DevOps organizations can fix vulnerabilities in minutes, rather than months. Building a DevOps capability is the best way to maintain a healthy security posture and protect the business. Don’t wait for this train to leave the station, because every company deserves a seat.

One of the most challenging parts of any journey is deciding to take action and making the first step. Over the next few months, I plan on giving some specific advice on bringing DevOps into your business. Meanwhile, here are some great books that will give you practical and actionable advice implementing DevOps practices:

  • Lean Enterprise” discusses how to integrate DevOps practices into large organizations.
  • The Phoenix Project” is an engaging novel about an IT project gone horribly awry at a manufacturing company.

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