What comes after continuity - Understanding DevOps

What comes after continuity - Understanding DevOps

Ever wondered how quickly the world around us keeps changing? Ever felt overwhelmed by the uncontrolled need to do things at speed? And have you experienced running fast, but not progressing?

Responsive, intuitive, anytime-anywhere, real-time and AGILE economies – this is the world we live in today. Add a liberal dose of analytics and data science, and we start transitioning to the predictive era, anticipating needs, forecasting trends and behaviours. All of this has created the great rush for ‘speed’.

If we had to define the modern era in one word, it would be ‘agility’. But how far have we analyzed this need for speed? And what does agility really mean in the business context?

Speed, or what is more commonly referred to as ‘agility’ within business environments, has been a coveted attribute since the days of Henry Ford’s assembly line. With digital disruption, speed and agility have gained importance as tools to accelerate the digital journey.

Today agile practices are becoming pervasive across industries and businesses, transcending the ‘IT only’ perception to become an organization-wide transformation. But where are we headed?

The era of ‘continuous everything’

Even as the holistic approach to business agility is helping optimize workflows and the value cycle, organizations are finding it hard to keep up with the era of ‘continuous everything’. This is where the concept of DevOps - collaboration within an agile infrastructure to improve quality and responsiveness - has gained relevance.

The earliest and most apt example of DevOps could be Henry Fords’ assembly line: cross-functional teams, collectively assembling, building, and testing each automobile before it was ready for sale.

The objective then was the same as what organizations hope to achieve today – adapting quickly to changing user needs, and creating better quality products, faster, to gain a competitive edge. But it was Henry Fords’ Continuous Delivery model of standardized inputs and managing repeatable processes that eventually led his business, and the industry at large, to become truly efficient and agile.

Fast track to today, DevOps is adding that assembly line equivalent to software development and delivery. By bringing in the ‘continuum loop’ to agility, DevOps enables enterprises to continuously collaborate, learn, innovate and reimagine their business roadmap in response to changing user needs. And there is increasing evidence to show that organizations adopting DevOps principles are disrupting and innovating faster, gaining an edge over competition.

How? Because the constant flow of change, innovation and disruption aids a relentless automation of repeatable processes and a standardization of inputs.

A DevOps culture, therefore, not only means adopting an agile infrastructure and agile business processes, but it also means aligning teams and stakeholders around a common purpose of “organizational progression of capabilities”. In short, DevOps is the method to the madness of agility and speed!

DevOps & Agility the Henry Ford way

Today, success and future-proofing your business means a focus on continuous improvement, which is why Henry Fords’ words almost seem prophetic when he said “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs” & “everything can always be done better than it is being done”.

While smaller organizations find it easier to change and move quickly, for larger enterprises, DevOps can help break down silos and set in motion a cycle of improvement based on feedback and collaboration, which can in turn enhance real-time responsiveness.

So, in essence, DevOps really represents the continuum of continuous improvement, continuous learning, continuous testing and continuous delivery.

As agility becomes core to success, so will DevOps

One might argue that DevOps is about ‘delivering quality software rapidly and reliably’, and that the concept is therefore relevant only to software companies. But nothing could be further from the truth in today’s increasingly digital world, and the Application Economy, where customers are experiencing a business through its software. With digital transformation, every company has become a software company.

Today’s tech savvy customers are demanding digital experiences that are responsive, stable and secure. Whether B2C or B2B, businesses will need to start looking at technology as a business enabler of being able to deliver a quality software experience to customers.

The fact that organizations will need agility, and DevOps, to remain competitive, and relevant, is no longer hyperbole. Assuming that the DevOps wave will not impact your business, whether a small start-up, or an established enterprise, would be naïve at best, and an existential crisis at worst.

Kavitha Rajasekhar, Managing Editor, CXO Connect ME