Silo madness: how to put an end to silos with DevOps and ALM

Funtional Silios in a company“Silos, and how to prevent them” is one of those business issues at the top of many a board meeting agenda, and has been for years. When silos exist in your company, information is not shared. When information is not shared, teams work from bad data. With bad data comes bad decisions and wrong courses of action. These destructive organizational barriers can be relentless and it is the duty of the leaders in the company to give their teams the proper tools and mind-set to break these silos down.

You had me at DevOps

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on silos that arise on the technology side of the house. These silos exist because developers working with different technologies and platforms often use different tools and have different development cultures. Mainframe engineers work differently from Windows engineers, who work differently from Web developers, who have different tools and techniques from mobile developers. Integrating these application environments has become one of the challenges of modern business. You need to address this issue whether you are:

  • modernizing existing applications
  • building for mobile
  • adding collaboration tools
  • supporting cloud
  • synchronizing development across platforms
  • incorporating new department and compliance processes
  • or deploying to ever more servers.

You need to ensure everyone is working together.

It can be incredibly stressful and highly risky if developers are working in silos without proper visibility and sharing of information. How do you ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding vision, priorities and deliveries? How do you synchronize deployments and installations? How do you ensure that testing is done with the right versions of all the components? How do you create standard, audit-ready processes?

It’s time to break down the silos. By bringing development, IT operations, and IT management into a single team (DevOps) and getting that DevOps team working off of the same system–your Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) solution–those silos will quickly be gone.

ALM: the silo destroyer

When all the members of your newly defined DevOps are working from the same ALM system, it becomes your real-time, anytime, anywhere control center for everything related to your software development and delivery organization. Everyone who is authorized has visibility to what’s happening across the entire application ecosystem. Whether it’s code, projects, deployment status, workflow, testing, release progress, operations, processes, reports, dashboards, or hardware status—the right ALM solution provides instant updates on it all because everyone from DevOps is storing and tracking their part of the processes in the same system.

The ALM system will also be able to automate all your IT-related business processes which impacts every component of the DevOps group. With simple point-and-click procedures, you will be able to define a portfolio of processes that meet your application development requirements. For example, only promote source code when certain criteria have been met, e.g., unit testing has been performed, or the end users have signaled their acceptance.

Also, when everyone is working from the same system, your ALM system can also churn out accurate metrics, dashboards and reporting in real-time, anytime. The reports can be role-based so whatever part of the DevOps team you are, you can produce and display the information in a way that makes sense for you.

The bottom line is that when everyone in DevOps is working with an ALM system, ANYONE on the team can answer any of the below questions, know the context of those questions, and make smarter decisions:

  • A development director asks “Is the Release moving forward on schedule?”
  • A programmer wants to know “Do I have the latest build?”
  • Operations people need to understand “What are all the parts of the upgrade across all of my platforms and to which systems do they need to be delivered?”
  • Team members want to know the tasks they need to perform and when those tasks need to be completed?
  • The CEO wants to know “Are we on time? Are we on budget?”
  • Auditors demand to know how everything that is in production got there.

So if silos exist in your IT organizations and you are looking for a way to get rid of them, we hope this post has helped.

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Daniel Magid is Managing Director of Rocket Software’s Application Lifecycle Management & DevOps lab, and is a recognized authority on helping leading organizations achieve compliance through ALM solutions and DevOps best practices. He has written a variety of articles for leading IT publications and is a regular speaker at technology conferences.

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