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Staying ahead of your competitors with DevOps

With cloud technology now ubiquitous, affordable, and easily accessible, can organizations extract even greater efficiency out of their IT processes and maintain competitive advantages over their rivals?

The emergence of cloud computing in recent years has introduced a remarkable shift in the enterprise IT landscape. By reducing the amount of effort and time required to provision infrastructure and deploying applications and services, businesses have been able to accelerate development cycles to deliver products to market faster. With cloud technology now ubiquitous, affordable, and easily accessible, how can organisations extract even greater efficiency out of their IT processes and maintain competitive advantages over their rivals? DevOps could be the answer.

For over a decade, many industry leaders including Intel have collaborated to deliver advanced datacenter solutions based on Linux, virtualization, and more recently the OpenStack cloud operating environment. With a wealth of practical experience in large-scale infrastructure and software development best practices, these companies recognize distinct advantages of the DevOps approach and are committed to advocating and nurturing the growth of this IT methodology. But what is DevOps and how can organisation benefit by adopting it?

To put it simply, DevOps is the melding of the software development and system operations disciplines within IT teams in order to facilitate rapid, scalable application development and deployment.The term itself is relatively new, having being coined in 2009. However, many of the concepts and ideas it presents were born out of agile methodologies developed years earlier. Agile development focuses on product delivery through clearly defined feature development, quality testing, and maintenance processes. This philosophy helps break down traditional rivalries and boundaries between development and operations teams, and has largely driven the DevOps movement.

Nowhere has the success of the DevOps approach been more apparent than in startup businesses, where entrepreneurs understand the need for rapid, continuous product development and release in order to simply survive. Tight budgets and small team sizes in the startup business led to a blurring of roles, and required engineers to learn skills fulfilling both development and deployment responsibilities. Ultimately, this amalgamation of skill sets allows teams of developers to manage large-scale production applications and deploy updates rapidly without causing outages or downtime. While startups and smaller businesses may have embraced DevOps out of necessity, can the methodology be successfully applied to larger-scale enterprise IT workflows?

There has been much conjecture and debate about whether DevOps can be successfully implemented within the enterprise. Development and operational teams are larger, processes can be more complex, and the number of separate yet interconnected systems can be many. Research conducted by Puppet Labs on the State of DevOps found that high-performing organisations deploy code 30 times more frequently, with half the number of failures. Moreover, the survey found a strong correlation between high-performing IT departments employing DevOps practices and greater organisational productivity and profitability. Yet another related study found that DevOps increased the speed of software deployments by up to 20 percent, leading to increased revenue, faster product delivery, and improved competitive positioning.

Implemented as part of a broader organizational cloud strategy, DevOps increases demand for and quickens adoption of cloud services by simplifying the process of developing cloud-based applications. It allows developers to innovate and create value-added services instead of focusing on design complexities and promotes cloud-aware design principles making applications more robust and resilient to failure.

With clear evidence demonstrating benefits provided by DevOps, how can enterprise shift towards adopting this methodology to compliment their investment in cloud computing? Developing a performance-oriented culture through strong leadership is fundamental to success, regardless of organisational size. Such a culture can be fostered by maintaining high levels of trust and empowering staff to experiment and continuously improve. Mistakes should be viewed as learning opportunities, instead of finger-pointing exercises. The entire organisation must be engaged and made aware of the potential improvements to business process that DevOps provides.

At the core, DevOps focuses on developing and delivering high-quality, reliable software faster. Proliferation of cloud technology has created an environment conducive to streamlined workflows, with both Intel and Red Hat collaborating to contribute relevant improvements to cloud computing benefiting DevOps. By encompassing continuous integration and delivery in addition to automated testing and monitoring, it can cultivate a culture of high performance within teams that will enable your business to surpass and stay ahead of your competitors.