Agile Teams and Solid IT Leadership are Key in a DevOps Organization

By: Esther Shein| - Leave a comment

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With the ability to deliver systems faster, cheaper and often of better quality, DevOps and agile teams are gaining momentum in many organizations. According to Gartner, DevOps was “by far the most popular search term on Gartner.com related to IT operations in 2015.”

A Philosophy Aimed at Agility

DevOps is not a framework or standard, Gartner explains, but rather a philosophy geared toward changing IT culture to improve collaboration and communication between development and production/operations teams. Essentially, the goal is to make IT more agile. Speed and efficiency are the name of the game.

Business managers, upper management and users must all be all engaged in the development process to create agile teams, Gartner states. It’s a continuous learning process and should not be limited to programmers — it is essential for all agile practitioners, including project managers, architectures and those responsible for quality assurance and IT budget management, according to DevOps Digest.

Not all of an organization’s application portfolio will be suited for DevOps, though. Some may be geared at incremental, iterative development, as is the case in the majority of commercial and public sector organizations. Don’t think of agile as better, but as better adapted to select issues.

Building a DevOps Environment

CIOs should not be swayed into believing that the solution for better software development is to buy more provisioning tools or automated testing tools, Peter Bendor-Samuel, founder and CEO of consultancy firm Everest Group, explained to CIO. He advocates for organizations to make the following three changes to build agile teams and realize the promise of DevOps:

  1. Deploying an integrated service model. This requires moving away from managing IT via functional disciplines like data center, security and app development. Instead, Bendor-Samuel suggests CIOs manage IT via service lines required by the business, such as sales and onboarding new customers.
  2. Organizing IT into cross-functional teams based on the services being delivered. In a DevOps environment, cross-functional teams are accountable for all aspects of an end users’ objectives and are therefore responsible for a business unit’s development, maintenance and operations.
  3. Developing highly integrated and elastic framework built on software-defined processes. Bendor-Samuel maintains that software development can be reduced from 18 months to four to six weeks for the whole process, from concept to implementation to production.

The Cloud Powers Agile Teams

Cloud is rapidly becoming the new model for delivering IT applications, and many large enterprises are now adopting DevOps and cloud as part of their IT strategy. This helps them to stay relevant while innovating, taking advantage of digital disruptive practices and improving operational metrics for application quality and cost.

Much of this is being driven by customer demand, as more customers are looking to connect with the businesses they deal with from their mobile devices. Established companies are facing increasing competition from businesses that were born on the web and are agile out of the gate. As a result, they recognize that traditional software development and delivery practices need to change.

Although CIOs have long instilled the notion that volatility is a threat to stability, IT can be transformed into agile teams without giving up that stability, PricewaterhouseCooper notes. This is where strong CIO leadership is key; they must engage business leaders to identify the top business opportunities for agility. Even if some initiatives are already underway, started independently of IT, the CIO should view them as pilot projects that can be incorporated into a roadmap for shared organizational learning.

There are many compelling reasons CIOs should deploy the principles of DevOps in their organizations. While failures are unavoidable, high-performance IT organizations experience 60 times fewer failures and recover from them 168 times faster than their lower-performing peers, according to Puppet‘s 2015 State of DevOps report. Effective agile teams can be achieved when IT leaders remove blame, work to break down silos and promote a culture where everyone shares in risks and responsibilities.

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About The Author

Esther Shein

Freelance Writer

Esther Shein is a freelance writer and editor specializing in technology, business and education. Her work has appeared in several online and print publications, including Inc., Computerworld, NetworkComputing, InformationWeek, BYTE, CIO, CMO.com and The Boston Globe. She has written thought leadership whitepapers, customer case studies and marketing materials in addition to news and feature articles. Prior to going freelance she was the editor-in-chief of Datamation, an online enterprise technology magazine. She was also a senior writer at eWeek (formerly PC Week) and worked at The Associated Press.

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