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5 ways devops can benefit IT

Devops advocates say the IT methodology can improve application quality, speed deployment, and drive revenue

By , Network World
September 19, 2013 01:05 PM ET

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Respondents were asked to rate the most important devops components, and a wide spectrum of tools, technologies, and process improvements made the cut.

IT automation (52%) and agile development (47%) topped respondents’ lists of must-have components, followed by collaborative teaming between development and operations personnel (45%), service virtualization (42%), accelerated applications testing (32%) and continuous release cycles (32%).

The potential obstacles to a devops rollout are wide ranging, too.

Devoting time to implementing devops is a challenge, particularly when staff members are already feeling overextended. “I think that’s the biggest barrier people have to change,” Mittal says. “There has to be concentrated effort, from the top down, for people to understand that together they can solve a much higher level problem, which is going to benefit each of them in the longer term.”

In the survey, the most commonly cited challenge is organizational complexity — too many people or departments involved, too many interdependencies (cited by 35% of respondents). Other obstacles to a devops implementation include: roles and responsibilities across development and operations are not aligned (28%); security or compliance concerns (25%); a lack of understanding of the phases of the entire development life cycle and who is responsible for which step (24%); and no budget or a lack of clarity over whose budget is responsible for what (24%).

On the skills front, attitude is critical.

Making the leap into devops requires a collaborative nature, Mittal notes. “People generally are used to working in silos,” he says. “By default, [devops is about] bringing multiple skills and organizations together to fix a much higher level problem that a company is having.”

According to survey respondents, the need for business skills outweighs pure technical skills. When asked what knowledge and skills are most needed to successfully implement a devops strategy, a knowledge of business priorities/strategies/metrics topped the list, cited by 47% (see graphic).

For folks on the operations side of the house, acquiring devops-related skills can boost their career prospects.

“Today, most of the operations people’s time is spent fighting fires in production,” Mittal says. With a devops implementation, “they’ll be spending less time fighting fires and more time working with developers to make sure the process itself is delivering good code.”

Devops needs “people who are able to make that leap, and to embrace these new methodologies around devops, and to truly understand how applications are being delivered,” he says. “People who have operations knowledge and skills along with that understanding will do far better than people who are sitting on the operations side and fighting fires on a daily basis.”

The fire fighters are essential, of course -- “they’re extremely valuable people,” Mittal says -- “but if code quality starts getting much better than what it is today, there will be fewer fires to fight and more need for people who can step up and bring their operations knowledge into the development process.”

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