DevOps: The key to IT infrastructure agility

Nowadays, digital transformation is garnering a lot of attention due to how much it is changing customer behavior. It has allowed IT departments to deliver new features and services quicker even through the more demanding requirements of security and availability (24/7).

The DevOps approach promises to tackle these tasks, by sustaining a high level of collaboration across the entire IT value chain (from business, overdevelopment, operations and IT infrastructure). But it is not without its share of issues.

Although many software developments and operations teams have shifted towards adopting DevOps methods, most enterprise IT infrastructure companies still work just as much as they did at the beginning of this century. They employ a ‘plan-build-run’ operating model organized by siloed infrastructure components, like network, storage and computing. The issue here is that it leads Agile development teams into a bottleneck whenever new or updated applications are ready to be hosted on the existing IT infrastructure, where the standard practice still involves majorly manual processes based on ticket management.

Digital businesses can rid themselves of this bottleneck by extending the DevOps models, enabling application development, application operation and IT infrastructure to function as one single entity. The benefits of this strategy include a 25%-30% increase in capacity creation, a 50%-70% reduction in time to market and more than 50% reduction in failure rates.

Such major benefits make it crucial to understand how to implement and integrate the extended DevOps approach into the existing IT infrastructure. Outlined below are six fundamental shifts required to facilitate an extended DevOps approach into IT infrastructure:

Work as one team
Instead of organizing themselves by creating highly specialized functions, IT infrastructure teams should come together and work as a unit, making it a priority to offer end-to-end value to the customer and not simply focus on optimizing discrete infrastructure components. Pooling these aggregate skills like infrastructure automation, information security, IT networking and others, into a single team that eliminates hand-offs allows IT departments to deliver entire infrastructure solutions quickly, usually in the form of an API that other teams can use.

Apply design thinking to IT infrastructure
Digital infrastructure companies can enable businesses to deliver quicker solutions by providing more self-service and an excellent user experience. This requires a customer-centric approach with a fundamental understanding of all the actions customers take to accomplish a particular task. They can find this out using the same method employed by application developers: by creating user personas, mapping journeys to locate pain points and delighters, and executing rapid test-and-learn cycles. This approach facilitates the prioritization of initiatives that deliver better and quicker outcomes to customers as well as businesses.

Shift to next-generation technical practices
Infrastructure teams must consider implementing new practices, like ‘infrastructure-as-code, which enables infrastructure teams to adapt software development engineering practices and methods of working while shifting away from the less flexible ‘hardware’ mindset. IT infrastructure functions that are able to adopt the best software practices like extensive test automation, continuous delivery of infrastructure and a rapid test-and-learn approach to infrastructure management, will be able to easily maintain and upgrade large scale automation programs, provision and scale hundreds of infrastructure components without any hassle and detect and solve issues proactively and almost instantaneously.

Invest in building software engineering talent
Infrastructure-as-code and developing cloud software platforms at scale have changed talent demand from system administrators to software engineers proficient at building and managing code. To handle this change, several leading businesses are investing in in-house immersive boot camps that utilize real-life work examples to teach their IT infrastructure staff the newest and best software engineering practices. They are also updating their talent-acquisition strategies and recruiting DevOps and cloud engineers with software engineering experience that are capable of applying new infrastructure-as-code technologies.

Overinvest in culture change
Leading IT infrastructure businesses aren’t simply introducing new tools and processes, they are overinvesting in cultural change. It begins with senior executives clearly and frequently articulating the vision of the program and outlines the DevOps approach of working. At the operational level, in addition to providing teams with DevOps coaches and structured programs to develop capabilities, evolving IT infrastructure businesses are creating services teams with the aim of addressing specific end-to-end customer journeys and updating processes and KPIs to accurately track and measure adoption of the DevOps methodology.

Link incentives to delivery and service goals
The success of a transformation is judged based on improved delivery and service outcomes, meaning incentives and performance management must emphasize team results, not just the achievements of individual functions. To strengthen this linkage, leading businesses are instilling metrics that balance business value, time-to-market, service availability, quality and overall employee satisfaction. These measures allow IT infrastructure providers to align the often-divergent goals and perspectives of developers, operational teams and business leaders.

DevOps has impacted development and operations teams significantly. Extending its approach of working across IT infrastructure and various other elements of the business is the future source of value for the IT industry.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store