Posted on 10th July 2018
by Dan Sims

 

What you need to know to ensure your infrastructure service provider has the DevOps mentality that will drive change and enable business goals to be met

• DevOps enables IT to operate at an optimum level by removing the constraints on software development and supporting operational efficiency
• DevOps reduces the time-to-value on application development and organisational innovation
• Implementing a DevOps approach requires the right tools and an experienced infrastructure partner

In an ideal corporate world, IT is an integral capability across the whole organisation in recognition that it is an enabler for business change and innovation. Business and IT teams work closely together on technology projects, with the shared goal of meeting business objectives. Structure and process are clearly defined, but flexible to enable changes to be adopted. Software development lifecycles are short and iterative, with issues identified early and adaptions made as required, if it becomes clear that is what is in the overall best interests of the company.

And while this may seem an unachievable utopia, it is the premise of DevOps, an approach that is increasingly being used by a wide variety of enterprises because it removes many previously permanent constraints.

The Phoenix Project: providing a practical perspective on DevOps
This philosophy is explored from a practical perspective in The Phoenix Project - widely regarded as the DevOps ‘bible’ – written by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford. While many people will be familiar with the book, the concepts are key for anyone wanting to introduce a DevOps culture at their organisation, so its summary bears repeating.

The new head of IT operations at a manufacturing and retail enterprise is tasked with reviving a high-profile and over-ambitious IT venture, Project Phoenix, on which the company’s future depends. Internal conflicts and pressures exacerbate the project’s already challenging issues and it seems Phoenix is doomed to remain in the ashes.

The turnaround is achieved by the IT director and his team getting to the root of the real issues that fuel the company’s problems. In part these are down to everyone having their own perception of what they believe to be in the best interests of the company; collectively these visions don’t match - and are often counter-productive.

But at its heart the book details how shifting IT from an isolated function to a core vein running through the whole enterprise enables it to work better and support the company to meet its goals. The end result includes adding automation, dividing work into smaller, manageable chunks and eliminating technical and human bottlenecks.

In short, it’s about removing the constraints that prevent high-level performance.

DevOps removes the restrictions of waterfall and agile methodologies
Despite the best of intentions, business and IT teams often find themselves going head-to-head when it comes to technology projects. DevOps, which views the enterprise as a whole and is relevant from the boardroom down, changes that so they work side-by-side.

DevOps therefore was born out of the recognition – and it has to be said, frustration - that neither the waterfall nor pure agile methods of computing worked well in terms of meeting business need.

The traditional waterfall approach to IT projects, in which the operations team undertake months of behind-the-scenes work in advance of a ‘Go Live’ date when everything needs to work perfectly, is often less than ideal in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment.

On the other side, the software development team, working in a fast and agile fashion is focused on innovation and change rather than process, procedure and policy. It pushes projects out quickly editing them as they go and as demand requires. But even the most innovate and agile team needs a robust infrastructure on which to build its applications….

And therein lies the problem. Everyone involved in building IT infrastructure knows the limitations, with a key factor being that it is not a speedy process; getting a server up and running for example can take weeks. With every delay, energy and momentum are sucked out of the project, which then risks falling by the wayside, or not delivering on its initial promise.

DevOps brings IT into the (business) fold so it can operate at an optimum level. And with that, it removes the constraints of software development and supports operational efficiency by enabling people to deliver value in a timely manner.

VMware tools make it easy to adopt a DevOps approach
Servers are traditionally built by the operations or infrastructure department and, as referenced above, this is a relatively time-consuming process. VMware’s DevOps offering however changes the landscape.

vCloud Director (vCD), frequently described as a ‘VM vending machine’ makes the provisioning of new environments a simple, self-service activity. It can be undertaken in a matter of minutes by an organisation’s software developers. This enables enhancement for existing line of business applications or the ability to innovate with new applications in response to business need and is crucial in an environment in which the introduction of new legislation (such as GDPR and MiFiD II) frequently requires system changes; without support for timely software development, companies risk breaching these regulations.

vRealise Automation introduces automation for mundane and repeatable tasks to ensure the benefits of the fast build are not partially eroded because it takes a day to add basics such as Java and SQL for example.

vRealise Operations Manager then provides insights into the workings of applications and platforms so that the developers can continually change and optimise them to drive the right performance.

Lanware understands the DevOps needs of financial services companies
Adopting a DevOps approach to IT is nothing short of a mini-revolution in the way most organisations have become used to operating over the past few decades; as such DevOps can be daunting!

Not only are there countless complex buzzwords and methodologies to understand and implement, DevOps requires a change in mindset in order to create completely new organisational processes.

Lanware understands the agile software development needs of financial services companies. Working with an in-house team to develop applications using VMware’s DevOps tools, while also meeting security and compliance requirements, is a familiar path for our consultants.

We collaborate with our customers so that enterprise infrastructure, service delivery and applications teams can work together. The result is cost-saving, consistency and a reduced time-to-value on application development.

To find out how Lanware can help you transform your business with a DevOps approach get in touch.