by Peter Bendor-Samuel

Are you getting the full benefit of DevOps?

Aug 11, 2016
Business IT AlignmentDevopsEnterprise Applications

How to avoid DevOps friction.

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DevOps enables IT departments to meet the business stakeholders’ demands for faster cycle time. But it’s causing enterprises to rethink where their talent should be located. As DevOps adoption grows, we hear two important questions: (1) how can we do DevOps in a distributed model, and (2) should we do DevOps in a distributed model?

DevOps presents major implications to the enterprise IT ecosystem, including shared services and service providers. The components and tools of DevOps (the agile methodology, the automation of the infrastructure layer, the test layer and provisioning) can be purchased and implemented in a shared services and distributed function. There is absolutely no doubt about that. The dilemma is how much benefit you get by taking that approach.

It’s clear that there is incremental benefit from these tools. Agile methodology confers benefits on your development team. Automated testing confers quality and cost benefits in your testing regiment. Automated provisioning confers speed benefits. But, at the end of the day, have you achieved the full benefit? Have you moved the performance dial?

Look at the leaders in DevOps — companies such as Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn and Microsoft. They get huge gains on productivity by deploying DevOps. Here’s how they do it:

  • They re-conceived their shared services model and collapsed the functional IT structures with functional leaders for infrastructure, operations, applications and security, for example.
  • They created cross-functional teams that are tightly aligned to the business.
  • Their talent is not in India, China, the Philippines or other remote locations. They locate their cross-functional teams close to the business decision makers.

This approach cuts across the factory model that has been developed by the services industry, particularly the Indian service providers, and asks hard questions as to where a company should place teams. It challenges notions of not only how to use a distributed model but also whether to use a distributed model. With DevOps, CIOs manage the IT environment on a more vertical basis that cuts across development, maintenance and testing and allows the full benefit of a software-defined environment.

You can definitely apply the component pieces of a DevOps engine in an IT shared services model, distributed or otherwise. But if you wish to move to best practices and capture the kind of gains that the leading companies achieve — breakthrough performance in productivity, speed and aligning IT with the business goals — then you need to move your organization away from the shared services and offshore factory models into a completely different construct with DevOps components positioned close to the business.

This fundamental change to the shared services status quo is disruptive, and it’s creating friction in enterprises. The friction prevents this highly promising set of technologies and capabilities from reaching their full potential.