The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of DevOps: ‘Faster, safer value streams’
DevOps is an underused business concept that has far-ranging enterprise value – but what exactly goes into it, and how can we figure out the best way of using DevOps for our specific business needs? DevOps & Software Engineering specialists, ClearPoint on defining an often misunderstood tech area.
Do an online search for ‘DevOps’ mass of definitions arise, ranging from ‘a set of practices to automate and integrate processes”, to a ”combination of cultural philosophies”. DevOps is a bottom-up process – that covers the range of all business operations related to agile software development – which may explain why the search DevOps turns up a mass of definitions.
Essentially, it’s a collection of practices to automate the business value lifecycle.
DevOps underlies everything that goes into changing organisation culture. It’s the way you build software and the automation that goes into making it to be able to change software really quickly. It’s getting changes from idea to customer – it’s the cycle time of realising idea to business value.
How can DevOps benefit a business? Essentially, it’s ‘Shorter and faster and safer so you can go fast without breaking things’
What can it do?
At its crux, DevOps is versatile – it’s able to be applied across any industry that has the need for efficiency and automation in their digital products.
DevOps goes down to the detail.
You can manually iterate small changes quickly learn to measure their responses and make updates. It enables you to pivot quickly and change your business structure to change your approach. It also means you can automate all those manual tasks out and make your operations way more efficient so that you’re focusing on the business, not the mechanics.
When you streamline your delivery processes, at a high speed with fast feedback, you can radically speed up how you get your value in front of the customers.
The best practice of DevOps.
There are many journeys or paths you can take with DevOps – ideally involved from an early stage. From any of the multiple starting points, it’s about establishing metrics and continuous delivery.
It’s also about effectively dealing with platforms and products that we build and support, it’s partly design and partly software.
DevOps involves team skills too – in small part, it’s the coming together of development and operations teams, but it ideally also includes collaboration and input from all other teams.
For the basics, automate all their infrastructure all the key test automation what we call our core business processes – that’s the stuff that must never ever fail.
It’s about coding through the production and removing manual testing, too.
There’s a myth about DevOps – it’s not as simple as just a team or an individual DevOps person or process. It’s a whole culture shift. It’s about the process, the automation, the engineering. Rob Cleghorn, Chief of Engineering at ClearPoint, explains “It’s the ability to be able to change your software really quickly and we’re talking multiple times a day.”
Many organisations struggle to get started: DevOps is a journey the organisation has to go on, from starting at some point, getting down the line to a point when they’re in a happy state – where things are moving, but it never ends: it’s a continuous improvement journey.
Decisions about a DevOps approach require examining the baseline of your value stream management – work out where you are now, think about how often you’re making changes, how long it takes for the changes to get out in front of customers, for example.
There’s also the ‘change/fail rate’ – so when you do make a change how often it fails and it’s a percentage on what and then if it does, for how long it takes to restore the system back to where it is.
From there, it’s about trying to pick a project, team or focus. What can we do starting now? For companies that want to be cautious about their management shifts, there are usually low-hanging fruits so start with those and then build momentum – you see the wins, and then keep measuring, and watching how those metrics are improving.
This article is part of Umbrellar Connect’s How it Works series, to demystify impactful technology solutions. See ClearPoint’s webinar – link here – on the 18th of August for an overview of DevOps strategy and business use cases.
ClearPoint is a digital design and engineering company, creating world-class digital solutions for NZ and Australia’s leading organisations.