DevOps & IT Operations to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Vishal Vasu, Director & CTO, Dev Information TechnologyCompanies today are trying to reduce their product delivery cycles and improve customer service by adopting more automated solutions. Digital disruption has caused companies with traditional models of development to queue up for digital transformation. This transformation is, however, not a universal phenomenon at the moment, as many businesses still rely on the “waterfall” models. Development, testing, quality assurance, integration, and production in such enterprises are done in separate stages –hampering the speed of product delivery, quality of customer service and organisational growth.

The role of digital transformation is becoming more important day by day, as businesses try to drive competitive differentiation. A DevOps implementation can help companies in accelerating their digital transformation significantly.

What is DevOps?
DevOps is a collective change in an organisation’s culture and the tools it deploys for product delivery and customer service. The DevOps model relies heavily on automation to eliminate menial tasks from task lists of humans. DevOps help organisations cut on their product delivery cycles and better serve their customers and improve their competitive market index.

As its name signifies, DevOps amalgamates the functions of the development and operations teams (or streamlines them for seamless coordination). In some instances, the model also includes increased collaboration with quality assurance and security teams. Thus, effectively enclosing the delivery pipeline and feedback loop in one continuous space instead of their traditionally “siloed” operations. DevOps also promotes the use of integrated cross-platform IT tools to help individuals accomplish more, independently.

The significance of Automation and Artificial Intelligence(AI)in DevOps
As mentioned above, automation is the primary carrier of DevOps. By reducing the workload of routine and repeatable tasks through IT solutions, also known as Workload Automation Solutions (WLAs), DevOps frees up human resources for more productive and innovative tasks.

The improvements in AI and machine learning are continuously increasing the scope for automation of more complex tasks. However, there is another aspect to automation than just reducing human workload. The advent of Cloud Computing, Big Data and other scalable data solutions, has only made things too large for people to process adequately. We now need the machines to handle these humongous data sets and provide operational insights.

Automation is expected to become the mainstay for developing, deploying, and monitoring the entire organisational infrastructure. Proportionately, the role of DevOps strategies, which is reliant on automation, will also gain wider significance forcorporate growth in the coming years.

Business benefits of DevOps implementation
The software is no longer just a side pillar for businesses; rather it has become an
important driver of growth for most industries. Online products and services have become the mainstay of many businesses. DevOps offer some obvious benefits for developing companies and their customers:

Taking risks and learning from successes & failures is an integral part of the delivery process, and that is what makes it so rewarding for both, the business and its customers

Pace of Development
The obvious benefit of establishing a real-time flow between development and operations is that companies can innovate their products rapidly. The concept of continuous delivery results in quicker update cycles and drives ownership among peers. Customers using these products and services are also able to grow quickly and adapt to the changing markets better.

Customer Service Improvement
The chief concern of organisations today, customer acquisition and retention depends entirely on customer satisfaction. DevOps helps companies in releasing quicker updates and features based on customer feedback. In the process, it is also building competitive advantage for their clients.

Better Quality Assurance
When working closely with operations and QA teams (or dual wielding such roles themselves), developers can quickly identify the discrepancies in functionality and code. This, in turn, improves the final product beyond what a regular QA process can achieve. Such coordination also reduces the time spent on the QA checks later, providing additional band width for monitoring and logging practices to gauge real-time performance.

DevOps help businesses by providing development processes at scale. By integrating automation into their business processes, companies can maintain consistency even when managing complex systems. Implementing DevOps also reduces the risks of scaling significantly.

Efficient Company Culture
The DevOps model also helps in integrating teams and building more productive collaborations between different departments. The collective nature of work helps in driving ownership and accountability. This reduces productivity leakages and saves time on both ends (operations and development /coding).

More Secure
Despite the development cycle moving quickly, DevOps model rarely sacrifices security. Companies can adopt automated compliance policies to ensure that the releases are kept within the purview of existing security norms. Furthermore, DevOps makes companies better placed in responding to emerging security threats and releasing security updates and patches in time.

Accomplishing End Goals with DevOps
When organisations move to a DevOps model, they introduce a collaborative culture between their development and support teams. The intention here is to reduce the feedback loop and drive up the business agility. The collaborative approach of DevOps is especially focused on achieving end goals for a company and has three principle components:

Systems Thinking: Laying emphasis on the performance of the system as a whole, instead of the performance of individual silos(or departments). DevOps is all about value to the customer rather than an internal performance competition.

Feedback Loops: An integral part of the DevOps process is the shortening of feedback loops to deliver products and services in time. Thisis done by improving communication between Development, Operations, Support and the end users. In an ideal DevOps model, everyone in the loop understands the impact of their feedback on the end goals, thereby driving responsibility at all points of contact.

Continuous Delivery: DevOps creates a culture which relies as much on streamlined operations and feedback loops, as on the constant tinkering with the product to open new avenues of usage. Taking risks and learning from successes and failures is an integral part of this process, and that is what makes it so rewarding for both, the business and its customers.

Lastly,a truly successful digital transformation requires an organisation wide cultural change, where the developers and operations function as a single cohesive unit. Moreover, keeping other systems and departments in sync with DevOps also becomes imperative for achieving organisational end goals.