Inhibitions in adopting DevOps

In 2015 Gartner announced that by 2016, DevOps will evolve from a niche to a mainstream strategy employed by 25 percent of 2000 global 2000 organizations.

DevOps is the union of people, process and tools to enable continuous delivery of value to customers. Traditionally in organizations the Development team is responsible for adding new features, while the Operations team(s) are responsible for keeping the system stable, running and expected. DevOps aims to propagate a “One-Team” mindset to increase efficiency in IT teams and provides with tools and practices to enable this transition.

DevOps has been in the limelight for almost 6-7 years now, with multiple, large and small, organizations trying to understand and reap the benefits of this movement. Despite the huge opportunity it presents, there are a lot of misconceptions which are inhibiting technology leadership at large enterprises from adopting DevOps as a practice for success.

Let us address some of these concerns, and actions that can be taken to mitigate the risk that they present:

Myth 1: DevOps is a technology investment with no business benefits

This is the biggest misconception that most technology leaders have. This misconception also restricts their ability to get buy-in and by extension investment budget for DevOps initiatives in their organizations. The key objective of DevOps is to bring benefits to the business, clients and end customers. As part of DevOps adoption, it is important to not only measure, but also report key metrics like Mean Time to Recover (MTTR), Cycle and Lead Times, Deployment Frequency, Application Performance and End User Monitoring to all stakeholders. This practice encourages a culture of ownership in the technology teams to enable business success.

Myth 2: DevOps works only with cloud

Another huge impediment to the adoption of DevOps is its close relation to cloud technologies. Although it is true that implementing DevOps with Cloud Environments is relatively easier and most of the DevOps innovation is also coming from large Cloud Companies, yet DevOps can be similarly accomplished with in-house Infrastructure and private cloud set-ups using Infrastructure as code and Containerization tools. For a financial services company, Sapient Global Markets accomplished a Zero-touch automated installation on a large AEM cluster (64 Web Servers, 12 publish instances + 8 AUTHORING & Replication instances) using puppet, and this was accomplished with on-premises infrastructure.

Myth 3: DevOps is not for complex environments

Large organizations have multiple systems that need to work together to accomplish the desired business goals. They rely on internal as well as external systems. A key challenge is how they get DevOps to work with systems that are not controlled by them. The solution is to focus on “Culture”, “Automation” and “Continuous Monitoring”. While the former along with practices such as Pair DevOpsing and extending communication structures, enable high collaboration between all stakeholders, internal or external and will help identify issues upfront and mitigate risks which would otherwise be hidden. Automation and continuous monitoring practices ensure that any technical issues can be identified and responded to quickly.

Myth 4: DevOps does not work with legacy apps or vendor products

Most of the large enterprises have been around for decades, and that means they have a lot of technology legacy in the form of mainframes, databases and primitive applications and infrastructure. There is a perception that most of the DevOps practices cannot be applied to such applications and products, which is not necessarily true. Given the inherent benefits DevOps brings to the table, lot of vendors have started offering capabilities with their products that help in the overall DevOps journeys for the client organizations. In addition, large monolithic legacy applications can also be “broken” down into smaller DevOps capable applications.

Myth 5: DevOps ignores regulatory and compliance requirements

Regulatory and compliance requirements are imperative for almost all large organizations especially in the financial and insurance sectors. Requirements range from change auditing and control, access controls and reporting, to security checks on applications, are seen to be hindrances to continuous delivery of software. DevOps, contrary to what many believe, does not advocate bypassing any of these controls and measures. With the right set of automation and practices, organizations can achieve continuous delivery without breaching any requirements. For instance, during a project for a financial client, we ran into a problem where recording the purpose and specification of change was a mandatory requirement for every release. With DevOps gaining steam, the Change Management team stepped up, and opened up REST (architecture style for designing networked applications) APIs to enable logging of changed tickets through the Continuous Delivery Pipeline. This automated the process while adhering to compliance requirements and leaving no scope of manual errors.

Myth 6: DevOps is about using the right tools

Although evolution of modern tools has been a key driver in bringing the DevOps momentum to organizations, just having the tools alone is not enough to solve the DevOps problem for large organizations. In fact, most of the large organizations almost always have all the tools that they need to build on, on the DevOps front. However they lack an understanding of the overall DevOps processes and practices, and the value of an integrated delivery chain.

DevOps - A Paradigm Shift

We are on the brink of a technology revolution. DevOps is certainly the future, not only for startups and born in the web organizations, but also for large enterprises that can truly benefit from it.

However, there are several key aspects that need to be considered before implementing DevOps in a large enterprise, most significantly having a common definition and appropriate governance structures around the DevOps program.  A successful DevOps model not only help organizations understand the overall impact and benefits of DevOps but also enables organizations to navigate through this journey to attain DevOps maturity.

Deepak Jain, Senior Manager, Sapient Global Markets

Deepak is a senior manager, technology with over 13 years of experience in software development, architecture and design. He is a seasoned architect and has worked as a lead architect on multiple large and complex application across the Java technology stack in middle and back office. He is a strong proponent of Software Craftsmanship, Agile methodologies and DevOps.