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DevOps - The Future of Application Lifecycle Automation / Part 6

Category : Architecture
What are the main outcomes / benefits of DevOps? What are the main steps making use of DevOps?

During Part 1 - Part 5 I covered a variety of DevOps aspects and today I would like to spend a bit on benefits and steps.

In summary DevOps has 4 main value propositions:

Agility as well as reducing outages are two main drivers that clients target when implementing DevOps capabilities. However increase quality and innovation cycles is another set of key benefits clients might want to consider then applying DevOps. To a large extend most of these drivers can directly be related and translated into cost savings. Reducing outages will have an impact on cost avoidance, increased quality will have an impact on end user satisfactions and therefor client might be able to increase their profits.

Increased Agility
Speed to market, or better maximised agility through a constant and fully integrated deployment capability is one key aspect here. Moving from a release cycle from every quarter to deploying changes on a minute by minute basis is real aspiration. For many clients this is a massive leap, for some this is reality. As an example Amazon decided very early to place automation at the heart of their AWS (Amazon Web Services). Below are some AWS quoted numbers that illustrate what (in 2011) great looks like. No doubt that AWS have managed to improve on these stats even further.



Increased Quality
As per Puppet Labs’s survey suggests (see link below) that high-performing organizations are still deploying code 30 times more frequently, with 50 percent fewer failures than their lower-performing counterparts. Increased quality is one on the key benefits DevOps. It will however only increase quality if the organisation reached a certain level of maturity. As outlined in our Maturity Model (see below) we differentiate 5 levels: 1 Basic, 2. Emerging, 3. Co-ordinated, 4. Enhanced and 5. Top Level.

Improve Innovation
Running less outages, deploying code with increased quality will lead to more time spend thinking about further improvements or new ways of working. It will enable the organisation to drive more value, rather than having to dedicate time fixing issues caused by changes deployed

Reduced Outages
This is a big area of value – as outlined above IT Process Institute's Visible Ops Handbook reports that "80% of unplanned outages are due to ill-planned changes made by administrators ("operations staff") or developers." the Enterprise Management Association reports that 60% of availability and performance errors are the result of misconfigurations.
A recent Gartner study projected (see link below) that "Through 2015, 80% of outages impacting mission-critical services will be caused by people and process issues, and more than 50% of those outages will be caused by change/configuration/release integration and hand-off issues." DevOps will address these unplanned outages by improving ways of working, automation and continuous deployment.

Rg 2 – how to implement DevOps
DevOps implementations do vary from client to client and there is no single silver bullet. To ensure successful adoptions clients should execute the above activities. However there are key enabler to consider when starting a DevOps engagement. Applying the experience from previous DevOps engagement there are 8 key aspects to consider:

  1. Strategy and Architecture
    Understand where you are – covering business, applications, information and infrastructure. Know where you want to be and have a plan that drives real value.
     
  2. Standardise
    Focusing on hardware, hardware-near software (like OS) as well as middleware try to standardise as much as possible and reduce overall product variances.
     
  3. Train
    Focus on your people; upskill and train in basic but also advanced subjects covering technology specific, generic and soft skills.
     
  4. Virtualise
    Not an absolute must, however a great accelerator automating processes is abstracting from underlying hardware covering not just compute but also storage and network.
     
  5. Rationalise
    Reducing overhead will allow for better focus as well as reduces complexity.
     
  6. Optimise
    Eradicate unnecessary steps in key processes, in particular when these are of manual or semi-manual nature.
     
  7. Automate
    A key foundation block for DevOps – automate as much as possible. Moving in to a continuous deployment cycle will be accelerated if processes are automated.
     
  8. Orchestrate
    Moving, starting, creating and deleting services in an orchestrated fashion – for instance via a central capability – will increase the impact of DevOps.
DevOps is developing fast - its a fascinating subject and if you read the Gartner's Hype Cycle, DevOps is still in the innovation trigger.

References:
1) Puppet Labs: https://puppetlabs.com/2014-devops-report
2) Gartner Report : http://img2.insight.com/graphics/no/info2/insight_art6.pdf


About the author

Gunnar Menzel, VP Enterprise Architect
Gunnar Menzel, VP Enterprise Architect

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