Plutora Blog - Agile Release Management, DevOps, Release Management
Beyond the Hype: Why DevOps Isn’t a Silver BulletReading time 5 minutes
The concept of DevOps and the idea of going faster are not new. However, the proliferation of shiny new tools designed around providing faster Agile + DevOps application delivery to the customer has grown significantly over the course of the last 5-6 years, as seen below:
Significant percentages of companies are saying, look, we’re doing DevOps. We have DevOps capabilities. We’ve bought a number of tools — automation tools, requirements management tools, and deployment tools. We have Lean software principles. We’re delivering products faster to the customers. We’re doing DevOps, right?
The people in the actual trenches doing the work are saying, “Not so fast. We have some of the tools, but it’s really not working like you might think it is.”
The Disconnect: Executives Overestimate DevOps Maturity
According to Forrester’s 2017 Global DevOps Benchmark Survey, executives and DevOps professionals have widely differing perspectives on their level of DevOps adoption.
When asked if they automate their CI/CD pipelines, 53% of the executives responded in the affirmative, but only 42% of the DevOps professionals said the same. On the subject of whether configuration management was automated, 56% of executives and 45% of DevOps professionals said yes. 58% of executives as compared to 40% of DevOps professionals claimed to automate release to production, which at 18% was the widest differential in the survey.
In addition to this gap in perception, executives are starting to feel that they’re investing in these hot new technologies but aren’t reaping the expected business benefits.
Clearly, there’s a disconnect here – and it’s not a new or novel occurrence. We can see that the same thing happened with financial institution ING almost a decade ago. In 2010, ING began its agile transformation with just three teams. After seeing some success, it shifted its entire development organization to Agile the following year, and then DevOps after that. By 2014, ING executives were becoming disillusioned with DevOps because they weren’t receiving the tangible results that they’d hoped for.
What’s really happening is that doing DevOps is hard. There are a lot of roadblocks and speed bumps along the way. After a year or two of progress, executives expect the transformation to be complete – but they aren’t seeing measurable results because in reality, they just aren’t there yet. The processes, the people, and the architecture of the organization itself must be primed to take advantage of DevOps. Without those crucial pieces, businesses will never see a return on their investment.
Delivering Faster is Not Enough
Speed can be a tempting metric because it’s relatively easy and straightforward to measure, but simply delivering faster is not enough to delight customers. Delivering true value requires quality as well as speed.
To use the metaphor of a race car, you can think of the driver as the customer and the pit crew as the product-oriented team trying to help the driver perform. They are customized for this particular car and labor meticulously over all the details to help this person go as fast as possible. They rehearse with practice runs just to make sure that they’re doing everything properly. It’s not just about having the biggest engine and the most reliable manufacturer; the entire endeavor can fall flat if the guy filling the gas tank screws up.
DevOps Through a Different Lens
Achieving quality along with speed is no easy task, and it can be helpful to adopt a very expansive view of what DevOps is. Examine it from the perspective of people, platform, and process, not just automation or Agile.
Simply thinking, “we’re going to divide everyone up into small teams and meet every day” isn’t enough. It’s critical to have visibility into the entire system, which takes into account the process changes and the collaboration between teams. People need to be able to communicate without having to depend on a weekly or biweekly meeting, or even worse, spending all weekend in a conference room trying to coordinate delivery schedules.
Global insurer QBE is a prime example of this. As their release cycles sped up from quarterly to monthly, they struggled with the administrative burden of coordinating complex releases.
“The release process was so manual, it was taking time away from focusing on the scope and quality of releases. You couldn’t be a release manager because you were spending all day updating spreadsheets.”Sophia Pepe, Enterprise Application Release Manager, ANZO
Plutora provides an umbrella around the whole ecosystem of DevOps tools that accounts for not only the tools, but also all of the collaboration, integration, and management. The platform also provides the visibility and analytics necessary to ensure that high quality releases are delivered on time. While DevOps isn’t a silver bullet, it can still be absolutely transformative for organizations with the right mindset, proper planning, persistence, and the proper combination of tools.