Everyone understands the need for DevOps and agile practices, but making it all work for the enterprise is another story. A survey of 1,300 executives just released by CA Technologies and Freeform Dynamics finds that while 75 percent recognize that these approaches drive significant business success when implemented together, only a relatively small proportion -- about one in five -- consider the consistency, depth and breadth of usage of these practices to be high.
Adopting DevOps and agile culture delivers greater business performance. Organizations fully embracing DevOps and agile practices are seeing a 60 percent higher rate of revenue and profit growth, and are 2.4 times more likely than their mainstream counterparts to be growing their businesses at a rate of over 20 percent, the survey's authors report. Still, only 18 percent were at this stage of advancement.
There may be a paradox at work as well. Those enterprises adopting DevOps and agile in a comprehensive way are likely to be those that are already forward-thinking, participative and open to innovation. The organizations that really need a good dose of DevOps and agile -- encumbered by creaky, calcified processes and uninspired management -- are not likely to be adopting these practices in the manner in which they should.
The market and economy may shake some of these uninspired organizations out of their snoozes, assuming they don't first go of out of business. If you want to avoid being disrupted, make sure you're the disruptor -- and the way to become a disruptor is embracing new ways of defining business, enabled by technology (in that order).
Philippe Abdoulaye, a tireless advocate of instilling service-mindedness into information technology departments, put it this way in a recent article: "Software development is the foundation of digital products and services; it's becoming the fundamental industrial activity." Think about what this means -- the software development shop or the data center is now the core of the business. Abdoulaye states that it is the job of the software team to provide "the technological, organizational, and operational framework that will enable digital profits."
An important piece of this disruption is mindset, and redefining the business one is in. Every company, regardless of industry, is a software and data company. That doesn't change the ultimate goal of any business, which is to serve the customer, period. But the way value is delivered to the customer is through software and data. The process, the philosophy, the best practice that puts software front and center of today's value chain is DevOps, he continues.
The urgency of DevOps extends well beyond the bounds of the data center. To compete in a software and data-driven economy, companies need to have a regular, predictable cadence of software delivery. There needs to be a systematic process of getting the latest releases -- potentially going straight to customers -- out the door. It may be daily, even hourly. DevOps opens up the path to disruption.
The challenge is DevOps is still seen as an IT-centric exercise, a way to increase the efficiency of code delivery and deployment, rather than the fundamental role it plays in a business's shift from analog-based product delivery to digital engagement. As Abdoulaye so aptly describes it, "DevOps is unknown; it can't be narrowed to the complex toolchains IT vendors have been selling to CIOs. Things aren't that simplistic."
He channels the sage words of Adam Jacob, co-founder and CTO of Chef:
"DevOps is about bringing together all the people you need to build and run your business effectively, and empowering them to move as quickly as possible towards their goals. Tools matter. Make no mistake, trying to change the way you work without changing the mechanisms by which you do that work is a futile exercise in excruciating failure."
The CA survey finds about 25 percent of organizations have DevOps initiatives in place, with another 43 percent working on it. Finding or training people with DevOps know-how is a challenge, however, as cited by 77 percent of the group.
Enterprises to look beyond DevOps' positioning as an automation toolchain and focus on its emerging role as a business capability, Abdoulaye urges. DevOps "not only provides a business capability that's easy to deploy but also an organizational, operational and technological framework embedding the Agile and Lean practices, as well as the automation toolchains companies need to survive their industry disruptions and make substantial digital profits."