What is DevOps?

DevOps isn’t a tool you can buy. So what is DevOps?

The DevOps movement extends the principles of lean and agile methodologies beyond application code to the entire value stream, from business requirements—driven by the ongoing digital transformation that marks today’s successful organizations—to development, deployment, measurement, and analysis, and back to the next set of business requirements. It makes IT a business partner supporting transformative change, instead of only or just a cost-center. Implementing DevOps requires a combination of organizational culture, methodologies, and tooling, where the tools are there to automate tasks, help manage complex environments at scale, and keep engineers in control even at high velocity.

Things are moving and changing so fast in the competitive landscape of almost every kind of business now that companies not involved in trying to make the next leap past their competition or create the next new market are almost guaranteed to fail. Steven Grandchamp, DRUD Tech’s CEO tells us that digital transformation is no longer optional. And that means way more than just “digitizing” your existing business. Steve cautions, “If all you’re doing is taking what you do and trying to figure out how to deliver it on a smartphone, that’s not transforming your business. You’re just trying to keep up, manage, and maintain costs. At DRUD, we partner with our customers; we dig deep into their processes and tooling to open up new possibilities.”

“If it’s not a new revenue stream for you, it’s not a digital transformation. It’s the difference between evolution and revolution.” – Steve Grandchamp

As CIO Magazine puts it, ‘digital optimization’ is using digital services (mobile apps, chatbots, analytics, etc.) to augment existing services. And Gartner Analyst Hung LeHong explains in the same piece, “In a nutshell, we reserve [the term] ‘digital business transformation’ for companies pursuing net new revenue streams, products and services and business models.”

DevOps did not come out of the blue. Before agile was called “Agile,” Steve was helping organizations apply the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF), which brought together application development and infrastructure deployment together under a single process model. MSF “broke down massive releases into much more manageable, definable, and deliverable components. It allowed you to speed up delivering more of those chunks at a time.” This was a clear precursor along the evolutionary path that led to Agile and now to DevOps.

Many of DevOps’ technical practices are the child of Agile and Lean methodologies like continuous build, integration, test, and deployment processes (aka CI/CD), on-demand disposable environments, constant feedback flow, rapid prototyping, and delivery, limiting work-in-progress, and building systems and organizations that are safe to change. DevOps incorporates these and adds the secret sauce of a culture of collaboration between business, dev, and ops teams in a blameless, learning- and improvement-focused environment.

Culturally, the most important part of DevOps is understanding that it starts at the top. IT is no longer a cost center. It is an essential partner in delivering value rapidly, reliably, and safely. Another essential element is putting “blameless” culture into practice. This means cultivating empathy for other people’s roles and responsibilities; emphasizing trust, cooperation, and communication; and enabling cross-functional collaboration and learning. A good example of this in practice is celebrating the developer who caused a problem as the expert in its resolution and prevention the next time around. We must trust that they acted to the best of their abilities with the knowledge, time, and situation at hand and not second guess them. The phrases “could have” and “should have” have no place in DevOps-style retrospectives, including from the situational expert herself. We want to learn from the situation, not blame someone for it, “What we call a ‘no blame, no shame post-mortem,’” adds Steve. As part of our desire for constant learning and improvement in our organizations, we should therefore also keep careful logs of what caused the problem, how to resolve it, and how to avoid it in future.

Combining the technical and the cultural, DevOps added the concept of improving flow. Under this paradigm, organizations measure the entire biz-to-dev-to-deploy process as a whole— emphasizing that everyone is working towards the same goal. So waste and rework in one area might be caused by something in a different point of the process, but it’s not about placing blame, it’s about working together to improve the flow. Within a DevOps culture, teams communicate with each other, ideally creating a seamless process in which everyone is active and invested in all steps of the workflow. Implementing a strong DevOps methodology breaks down silos to help deliver a better product faster.

Want to hear more? Kevin will be speaking about these ideas at Drupal Europe next month: The Way We Work: Culture, Communication, and Containers.

Why DevOps?

DevOps helps leaders act on their ideas and get them to market more quickly. It offers distinct business advantages over the old “throw it over the wall” style of passing business requirements to devs, code to QA, and features to Ops without any sense of cooperation or the whole being a continuous process.  “In an old-style organization, any time you go to IT with a request, what’s usually the answer? ‘Can’t do that, we need more resources, we have a backlog.’ These bottlenecks slow down the pace of innovation.” Steve feels DevOps offers some advantages that are not yet broadly recognized. “When we get there, IT is doing something different, we’re supporting business technology leadership as a partner.” With the kind of tooling DRUD offers (backed up by the right culture and processes), IT and business are partners who can experiment relentlessly, constantly, and reliably, deploying code (and business value) at high velocity, securely, ten or a hundred times a day.

The best technical fit for delivering on all this in 2018 is containerization, which itself is a fast, lean, and efficient technology that supports rapid deployment, efficient problem resolution, and frees your software from infrastructure vendor lock-in.

Containers support DevOps (support Digital Transformation):

  • Fast and efficient – Containers share resources with their host operating system, making their memory and resource footprint much smaller and their startup times must faster than virtual machines.
  • Separate and secure – Containers separate applications and logically isolate their OS resources, avoiding dependency and resource conflicts.
  • Environment agnostic – Development is faster and more reliable using containers because they run almost everywhere: Linux, Windows, MacOS, VMs, local machines, data centers, and in the cloud.
  • Increase dev-to-deploy velocity – When combined with modular, services-based application architecture, containers reduce the scope a developer has to deal with at any given time. This improves developer focus and productivity, eases management of applications, and increases efficiency and dev-to-deploy velocity.

What if your IT teams weren’t obstructed by their tools? What if they weren’t struggling with broken processes? DevOps, continuous integration, and continuous deployment impact the bottom line by reducing the blockage and waste. DRUD Tech is focused on making containerization easy and reliable, supporting the dev-to-deploy workflows needed to effect meaningful digital transformation and respond to opportunities ahead of the competition.

Want to know more? Steve will be talking about this at Drupal Europe. Why DevOps, Containers, and Tooling Matter in Digital Transformation

The challenge of DevOps adoption

DevOps isn’t a tool you can buy. To get it right, you need to start in the hardest place for many organizations. You need to build space and trust enough for blameless culture, continual learning, and open communication. Then come methodology and processes. Then finally tooling that supports all of the above by removing friction and increasing motivation. Kevin Bridges, CTO at DRUD talks about the fundamental underpinnings, “In order to realize the benefits of DevOps, you have to have everyone on the same page and be able to trust everyone on the team is pulling towards the same goal.” Kevin is inspired by Daniel Pink’s factors of intrinsic motivation— Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose—which can help you be successful with DevOps, by getting buy-in from all stakeholders, and appealing to each individual in the process.

Even though DRUD is in the business of providing and integrating the tooling that makes DevOps possible (and not the cultural aspects), Kevin insists understanding the context and culture has to come first. “It’s only then that you can look at how your teams work together now and how they communicate. And then you can look at the methodology and then, finally, the tooling. It seems organizations want to start the other way because buying a tool seems like an easy solution but this is back-to-front. If you have production level systems dependent on one person, no tooling is going to solve this problem.”

Likewise, DRUD also keeps the business objectives in mind. “When I approach this problem, I take the bird’s eye view and start with the product and the business. When you work with DRUD, we start with your business objectives and look at how the processes support the organization. This takes intense planning up front, but this sets the direction for every part of the workflow and everything you measure. The feedback loops then inform and provide a clear picture of the transformation.”

Want to know more? Kevin will be speaking about these ideas at Drupal Europe next month: Open Source Engagement to Empower Business

What Next? Get started!

DRUD’s tools can help you develop, test, and deploy business-critical features in more frequent release cycles. Using the tools, you can create production-like environments quickly and on-demand automate and standardize where possible, and optimize your toolchain to enable a fast, stable, reliable, consistent, and secure flow of work from biz to dev to deploy. Developers like Brandon Williams, Technical Project Architect, like that with DRUD and DDEV, “you can focus on building the products, rather than supporting building the products.”

Once you open up the throttle on the possibilities and flow, your team and your organization are free to transform. Rather than being stuck in the weeds of broken tools and processes, you can get your team focused on creative ideas, and reap the benefits of your digital transformation.

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Photo by Raw Pixel on Unsplash

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