5 Ways DevOps saves the day for software delivery

Why DevOps is a must-have–not a nice-to-have

Rocket Superhero runningIf you’re in the IT world and have never had a software release go wrong then you should consider yourself lucky and head to Vegas for the slots. It seems like every day there is another story in the press about a major software failure caused by a faulty move to production. A release may pass every test in QA, yet when you move it into production, what seems right is suddenly wrong.  Maybe the wrong versions of some of the files were included in the deployment package, or a file was mistakenly left out, or changes were installed fine on some platforms but not on others, or the final product does not match the requirements (ouch!). Just one simple mistake can create a domino effect of issues.

This is exactly why the DevOps movement has become so important in helping you avoid the dreaded C-word (as in “Crash!”) with all its related screaming, yelling and late night phone calls. And DevOps is about much more than simply avoiding catastrophic failures. It’s also about enforcing best practices, identifying potential risk, addressing compliance needs, and simplifying the management of today’s highly complex multiplatform application environments. It’s about making sure that when you point and click on a software distribution package that has to update your webservers, app servers, database servers, and client devices, that all the right files get to all the right places, and are installed successfully.

Here are 5 ways DevOps will save the day and make your IT organization more effective:

1. Collaboration is everything

DevOps brings application development, testing and IT operations teams into a single working group. By making the entire change lifecycle visible to all the stakeholders, everyone can participate in discussions related to prioritization, release requirements, required business processes, and other best practices. It keeps everybody on the same page about what to expect with a release, when to expect it and what to do along the way. And if you use a system like application lifecycle management (ALM) in the mix, all the stakeholders will be able to follow the release management process as defined by you or IT operations from the minute a request for a change arises until the final deployment into production.

2. Knowledge sharing

DevOps bridges the information gaps between development and IT operations.  So while your developers are intimate with the structure of the applications they are working on, it is often the operations staff that must get changes to those parts out to all the target machines on which they must run.  DevOps allows each user to work the way they like, yet take advantage of the expertise of their colleagues.

For example, by relating development artifacts to tasks and tasks to user stories and features, the DevOps process can make it simple for an operations person to promote and deploy features even if they have little or no understanding of the files they’re deploying.  The system will ensure the right components are delivered to the right places. It will also ensure that the right people have signed off on the change before operations can move it. The knowledge is shared universally in the right context for each user.

3. Compliance issues addressed

Automated DevOps can significantly reduce the pain and cost of IT audits. Because development groups for different platforms or different applications have been historically isolated, they have often established their own way of doing business. IT organizations can have a wide variety of inconsistent processes for developing and deploying changes. This makes multiplatform deployments difficult and audits practically impossible.

With automated DevOps, teams can work together to create a pre-defined portfolio of processes that meet your application deployment and audit requirements. Developers can continue to use the tools that they know and love while relying on the DevOps solution to take their changes and deploy them properly. In a nutshell, the DevOps solution allows IT to implement repeatable and measurable processes—structured, defined, and enforceable without negatively impacting developer productivity.

Auditors can easily see what the defined processes are and they can generate a wide variety of activity reports to ensure that changes are being handled in accordance with those processes. For example, if there is a rule that only allows the promotion of changes when certain criteria have been met, e.g., unit testing has been performed, or the end users have signaled their acceptance, the system will enforce that process.

4. Deployment success, failures no more

Just as it does for Promotion processes, DevOps provides the framework for deployment automation in any environment, regardless of how complex. Operations staff members simply select the change packages they want to deploy. The system will then ensure that all the appropriate approvals have been gathered and then it will automate the deployment. This operation is completely configurable to meet the individual business requirements that your organization has established. It also means that in case of a failure, operations people will easily be able to identify what needs to be backed out and back out the problematic changes with just a few mouse clicks or taps on a mobile device.

5. Automation is the golden key

These days development and operations teams are expected to deploy fixes and functionality faster than ever before. Which means the more complex your IT environment and development and release processes become, the more points of failure proliferate. The best part of DevOps has become its integration with Application Lifecycle Management.

With ALM and DevOps, IT organizations have a powerful solution to monitor and orchestrate all the moving parts, processes, and people that touch the application lifecycle. From anytime, anywhere visibility, to end-to-end process automation, to error-free deployments, to point-and-click compliance reports to new levels of visibility, the ALM and DevOps system might be the biggest thing to save the day when it comes to keeping DevOps harmonized and software delivery on track.

If you are having trouble convincing your IT organization to embrace the DevOps initiative then hopefully these proof points have 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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