Strategies On The Road To DevOps


In a recent conversation with one of our customers, he referred to DevOps as technology’s middle child. He then went on to describe how other technology trends, such as cloud computing and big data, are like the eldest and youngest child – often viewed as the most important and given the most attention. DevOps, on the other hand, is usually left out or neglected.

The reassuring reality today is that while other technology disruptor trends have continued to stay relevant to the Application Economy conversation, DevOps has steadily made its way into the business mind set and looks set to play a key role in the year ahead.

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last year, we asked analyst firm, Vanson Bourne, to survey IT decision makers about DevOps, a shortened term to describe the methodology that helps foster collaboration between the teams that create and test applications (Dev) with those that maintain them in production environments (Ops). The results revealed some confusion around the term where many reported that they were doing many of the tenets under DevOps but they weren’t necessarily calling it DevOps. 

Just a year later, we’re seeing a significant increase in DevOps adoption from last year’s results of 66% to 82% this year across 650 respondents in the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region. Globally, we’re seeing an even higher increase. This points towards the increased pressures businesses are facing in today’s application economy where there are extreme demands to innovate and deliver applications – without errors – and services more frequently and faster than ever before. In fact, 32% of APJ respondents indicated that they are under increased pressure to release more applications faster.

From the data points of this year’s survey, we believe a DevOps culture will enable businesses to better compete in today’s app-driven, cloud-connected, mobile-everything world. The year 2015 will see the start of many companies on the road to DevOps. There are two key learning from our DevOps survey from respondents who have deployed DevOps in APJ: 

DevOps is long distance run – plan your race strategy well

With any worthwhile undertaking, embarking on a new technology disruptor trend would entail growing pains. This isn’t any different with DevOps. From our DevOps survey, the top three common IT concerns include organizational complexity (31%), justification on ROI (28%), and misalignment for the roles and responsibilities across developmentand operations (27%). 

While there are potential pitfalls, the reassuring result is that DevOps is an approach that delivers more results with more investments. From our experience, part of the DevOps challenge is not just figuring out how to succeed, but also how to recover and learn from the failures that will inevitably come along the way. As DevOps continues to evolve, there will be better ideas and newer ways to do things. As businesses plan for DevOps implementation, our recommended approach is that customers first figure out what works best for them in their own unique environment and have that guide their overall approach. 

Invest in talents and processes

As increasingly more businesses turn to DevOps, it’s expected that resources will be spent to protect and fuel their investments. The top three investment areas include investing in more training for development and operations personnel (64%), redesigning processes to drive DevOps approach (59%), and engaging a consulting firm with a DevOps practice (59%). Other key investment areas include hiring new resources with necessary skills (57%), changing organizational structure (42%), and investing in new tools (42%). 

In fact, early adopters to DevOps are already reporting that they are starting to see the benefits of their implementation. These benefits include the availability of their software and services across more platforms (90%), increased collaboration between departments (88%) and a reduction of time spent fixing and maintaining applications (88%) 

An interesting point to note from the survey is that we’re seeing a significant dip in specific investment areas within the span of a year. For example, investment in new tools decreased by 31% and has dropped from the number one priority last year to close to the bottom of the list this year. 

This shift hints at an issue many businesses face in today’s application economy: skills gap. Additionally, itreflects the evolving business mind set and underscores the pressures businesses today are facing to deliver both in the short and long term through hiring and training talent respectively. 

What’s Next on the Road to DevOps?

The road to DevOps has already begun for some and many others will be a part of it this year. Businesses around the region and globally are recognizing that DevOps will enable them to develop faster, better quality applications, and more importantly, better alignment with business objectives. We believe that while 2014 was the year DevOps gained widespread recognition, we will see DevOps take centre stage this year where businesses will look to integrate it as part of a strategic business imperative.

Now that we’ve established the value of DevOps, potential pitfalls, and investment areas, what’s next for businesses? In the second part of this leadership series, we’ll look to share our recommended blueprint for DevOps success to help businesses find fewer problems and more answers as they embark on the road to DevOps.

(This is the first of a two-part series article on DevOps. Keep a watch. The second part will be published next week)