DevOps is the IT approach businesses need to meet the digital economy challenges. Incredible, a close look at how it’s implemented shows that businesswise it’s missing the point; its practitioners are still mired in the old IT thinking which erroneously restricts business growth to improving communication within IT, using agile methodologies and automating application deployment. Automated deployment is essential there’s no question about it, yet it’s a small part of the story.
DevOps is fantastic but its proponents must drop their taken for granted certainties and understand that generating value is part of a continuum which starts with exploring opportunities and ends with developing services and continuously increasing customer value. Narrowed to automating application deployment it doesn’t create value, extending it to business concerns makes it a strategic business capability. That’s Enterprise DevOps.
How certain vendors and consultants are killing DevOps
The digital economy is changing the competitive environment, improperly addressing its business implications is preventing DevOps from being the strategic IT capability business lines (BL) have been expecting. That’s unfortunately what today’s DevOps experts are doing. I see two weaknesses CIOs planning DevOps moves should pay attention to:
DevOps narrowed to application deployment infrastructure
Misconception of how value is created
Narrowing DevOps to automation platforms deprives BLs of market responsiveness
Narrowing DevOps to a deployment infrastructure, vendors and consulting firms are depriving BLs of a key competitive advantage: market responsiveness.
BLs’ concern isn’t how fast applications are delivered but how responsive they are to market opportunities. In fact, they consider lack of focus on priorities, slow problem solving and decision making, and inability to adapt to market turbulences as the major impediments to market responsiveness.
Market responsiveness isn’t about speed but how often, how much and how fast revenues are generated; it demands the elimination of these impediments through fixing organizational and operational dysfunctions.
This is where deploying DevOps’ non-technological features e.g., agile culture and collaboration mindset make sense: they eradicate the impediments to value.
Value creation mechanisms are misunderstood
IT’s ability to speak the business language and deliver business benefits transcends DevOps’ timely delivery and communication improvement considerations; as illustrated, application deployment, therefore DevOps is part of a wider activity continuum that cuts across your organization:
Delivering value assumes prerequisites upstream including BL’s goals, market opportunities and priorities clarified and shared with IT.
Pretending IT exclusive DevOps practices on their own can boost business growth is abusive.
Why going the Enterprise DevOps route makes sense
Enterprise DevOps is a superior approach to today’s application and infrastructure focused DevOps practices. Timely delivery isn’t its bottom line but market responsiveness; improving communication within IT isn’t its goal but cross-functional collaboration; deploying automation infrastructure isn’t its end but a means to achieve market responsiveness.
It builds on two fundamental components: the IT operating model and the continuous delivery pipeline.
The IT operating model
Enterprise DevOps builds on the belief that market responsiveness is what boosts business growth, it’s achieved through the combination of three drivers: flexible workflows between the business and IT, accelerated problem solving and decision-making, and application deployment infrastructure. In order to address the flexibility and problem solving and decision-making issues the IT operating model provides the following:
It’s a set of assumptions, concepts, doctrine and propositions concerned staff must subscribe to as they’re supposed to make your IT responsive to market opportunities. Example of principle is “Applications take value to the customer, customer experience increases loyalty and customer value makes business healthy.“
It’s the set of organizational roles and related workflows identified as key to ensure market responsiveness. They’re put together in the form of a single team or combination of teams led by a business owner and an IT facilitator. Basically, the team is composed of developers, testers, and IT operations staff and can be extended to additional roles.
These are the key business and IT practices selected to support the organization’s added-value activities and ensure market responsiveness:
Plan and measure expected business value
Develop and test selected added-value applications
Release and deploy selected added-value applications
Monitor and improve relevant Enterprise DevOps practices
Change Advisory Board (CAB)
It’s typically a governance structure composed of relevant executive staff from both the business and IT. It’s responsible for enforcing business priorities, the underneath Enterprise DevOps principles and practices and measuring vendor performances.
The continuous delivery pipeline
This is Enterprise DevOps’ technology piece, it’s intended to accelerate the delivery of added-value applications and changes.
It’s structured around an application development life cycle whose versioning, integration, quality assurance and deployment activities are automated to ensure market responsiveness.
Delivering business value isn’t as simplistic as deploying automation infrastructures. It takes not only deploying these infrastructures but also bringing together relevant business and IT principles, people, practices and tools into a cohesive team focused on delivering priorities. That’s why Enterprise DevOps is the application delivery organization model.
Philippe A. Abdoulaye has 25 years of experience as an IT transformation expert with a versatile background leading cloud, data center and ITSM transformation projects with consulting firms like Accenture and Cognizant. Philippe has advised the IT leaders of enterprises like Credit Suisse, American Express and Educational Testing Service (ETS) and has conducted workshops to provide insights into cloud transformation approaches for McKinsey consultants.
Philippe has been sharing his views on Linkedin and in his blog on topics around cloud computing, ITaaS and digital transformation. His articles are regularly cited by online media outlets, including Sys-Con and ZDNet.