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In The Digital World, DevOps Is The Key To Survival – Part One

Thursday, November 30, 2017

by Paragon Application Systems

This two-part blog provides an assessment of how the continual development, innovation, and testing at the core of the DevOps is something to be considered seriously by any company trying to weather the digital storm.  Daniel Carnes is our guest blogger for this series.  Dan has more than 20 years of experience, including 15 years with First Data, leading teams of developers, engineers, and testers overseeing mobile and internet payment solutions, VAS Exchange, mobile security initiatives, identity management and card vaulting.

The digital revolution in the financial services industry, among others, is driven by a need for speed.  The introduction of digital products and service to consumers continues at a rapid pace with adoption curves some of the steepest seen.  It is no longer wise to practice a "set and forget" strategy were ever 3-4 years a product is updated with little going on in the intervening time.  To be successful today, end users must have continuous access to on regular stream of innovations they can bring to market faster to satisfy consumer demand.  As would be expected, these conditions are transforming how software is built, testing and distributed.  Below are the benefits this transformation is bringing.

1. More Frequent Deployments

One of the key benefits of the DevOps philosophy is the focus on efficiency.  It is translated into the ability to develop new solutions faster using an iterative approach common to agile methodologies.  A critical aspect is the involvement of both the development and operations team members throughout the process.

Using development methodologies, such as waterfall, software is updated and maintained through periodic updates. Generally speaking, these updates are scheduled around quarterly,  semi-annual, or even annual releases. The compressed nature of these release schedules is to allow software companies to keep pace with client needs. However, it has allowed their competition to beat them to market if they provided their updates quicker.

DevOps combined with one of the agile methodologies, such as Scrum, Kanban, or XP, enable companies to release solution updates continuously.  By releasing smaller updates, agile reduce the risk to clients of taking more frequent updates.  This in turn allows the companies to continually innovate.

Through this continual innovation, client needs are met and exceeded which pushes the cycle to the next iteration.  This continual deployment allows clients to drive innovation into the market as rates much faster and more frequently than results using traditional methods.  Some reports estimate the lead time gap to be in excess of 2500 times faster than that of companies not using DevOps and Agile methods.

2. Smaller Releases

This is the age of digital transformation.  All of our critical systems rely on some form of IT infrastructure.  Many of these systems are decades old and are in constant need of maintenance to avoid disaster.  Failures of any system can have grave consequences, ranging from loss of revenue, diminished reputation, or loss of client trust.

Studies show companies that follow DevOps principles have a reduced rate of failure while their recovery times are over 20 times faster than companies that use traditional approaches.  The reduction of errors is due to smaller releases, which isolate change.  The isolation of change streamlines the solution development process through each phase, from quality assurance to deployment. 

This isolation of changes makes it easier for clients to implement the change and gives them more confidence in the process.  The increased confidence acts as a positive feedback loop, reinforcing the process.  On the contrary, waterfall's infrequent releases rely on bundling the hundreds of alterations made to the code into a single bundle for distribution to clients and their customers.  This approach is inherently riskier and means more complex implementations for clients.  In turn, this leads to a higher likelihood of an incident occurring.

3. Continual Innovation

As mentioned above, the DevOps philosophy creates an environment where positive feedback grows trust in the process.  Trust in turn leads to the continual delivery model as the norm.  Continual delivery enables companies to focus on innovation which in turn feeds the cycle of successful digital transformations.  Again, this positively reinforces the process and acts as a force multiplier enabling those who embrace the DevOps Way to maintain their competitive edge.

The rest of the story will be waiting for you at this same and place next week.  Meanwhile, we would love to hear what your organizations are doing with DevOps and other tools being used to combat prevailing winds in your industry.  Until then.

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