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How DevOps Benefits Large Enterprises
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Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
5/21/2014 | 11:12:51 AM
How to Handle Silos?
Do you have any advice on how companies can deal with the calicification and silos that get built up in a typical enterprise environment so that a DevOps approach can actually flourish?
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 12:21:04 PM
How to move away from silos, calicification
Drew, I am not an expert on DevOps, but from what I've read, you want to standardize the environment as much as possible. Buy variations on one type of server, allow a narrow range of operating systems that will be maintained by someone else and stick to them. Limit the development tools, even though that is viewed as a serious incursion on the development team's preference and authority. Concentrate on the technologies needed by your organization and bar those that are peripheral or personal preferences. By simplifying the environment, you move closer to a DevOps style of operation.

 
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
5/21/2014 | 12:41:33 PM
Re: How to move away from silos, calicification
Drew, that is the $64 million question! DevOps is very much about cultural change to break down those silos, but I don't think there is a definitive way.

You can work on team-building and cross-skilling; you can second a selection of dev and ops (and probably security, storage, DBA, network admins too) into a short-term 'devops team' (not ideal, but often pragmatic way to get started); you can even change your org structures to align individual staff to business services rather than technology silos; you can push new shared tools for key functions like service delivery or operational monitoring.

But you must be careful not to just create new silos ('the devops team' or 'the chef specialists'), so focusing on the cultural change is a key starting point.

Andi Mann

CA Technologies.
mthiele1001
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mthiele1001,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/21/2014 | 2:24:50 PM
Some important caveats to the DevOps in large enterprises question
Great post Andi,

As usually it's very well written with great supporting info. I tend to agree with the majority of your comments as they pertain to the article by Rachel Shannon-Solomon from the WSJ. 

However, I would like to add some caveats that don't often make the headlines in regards to DevOps implementations.

DevOps is as much an organizational movement as it is a technology strategy. The fact that many enterprises are silo'd and would struggle to adopt is true, but doesn't change the fact that it's still the right approach. Many enterprises struggled with the idea of virtualization, and then Cloud and the issues of adoption are similar. 

There is no doubt that a small company with little or no structure has the best opportunity to implement DevOps quickly and effectively by the very fact that they are in effect "green field" environments. Virtually any IT solution is easier to implement when you can start with a green field approach. 

As I see it there are a number of assumed benefits associated with DevOps. Most commonly called out as a benefit is agility. There's no doubt that agility is a key opportunity, but not all businesses will benefit equally. I prefer to look at DevOps from the framework of the "ops" part. As systems become ever more complex and our environments are more hybrid (data centers, cloud, services, distributed apps, etc), the need to provide guarantees on policy and change management through the lifecycle of test to RTP (release to production) becomes even more critical.  The potential of properly implemented DevOps is that policy, governance, and risk associated with change are all captured and managed the same way, every time. Attempting to speed broken, human oriented processes that most of us use today is a dangerous proposition. 

Will it be easy for larger businesses to implement DevOps, no, but since they already need to consider different org models to "own" cloud properly, they might as well suck it up and do it right.



 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 6:04:37 PM
DevOps is more than a buzzword
DevOps may not be the right word but it's more than a buzzword. Mann himself has said that he prefers "continuous delivery" or some other moniker that refers to frequent updates to production systems. Glad Mark Thiele, an IW cloud contributor and executive VP of data center technology at SuperNAP, chimed in.
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
5/22/2014 | 12:27:33 AM
Re: DevOps is more than a buzzword
Thanks for your comments Mark, you are very kind as usual!

Change is always difficult, especially in larger, older orgs - whether through calcification or inertia, as Rich pointed out. And let's face it, we don't use the word 'legacy' pejoratively for nothing. ;)

I do think many of the benefits in capturing and standardizing policy, governance, and risk of change; and the resulting ability to accelerate the rate of reliable change; are core to the automation that enables a more scalable and efficient DevOps execution.

Are those values also inherent to DevOps per se? Or rather just to automation? The technology alone does bring substantial value, even if you don't have DevOps in mind; but it is certainly not sufficient for the fundamental change that DevOps entails.

Andi.
RichW774
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RichW774,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/21/2014 | 8:17:42 PM
Is it calcification or is it inertia?
Rachel's point, as I understand it, is that enterprises are slow to adopt DevOps -- slower than SMBs or start-ups. I suspect that fact is true but the reasoning behind the assertion doesn't necessarily seem sound.  

Enterprises centralize IT so that they can implement policy consistently at scale.  DevOps does scale, but it does so primarily because a raft of new technologies (like cloud computing) make it possible to "code" many of the operational policies so that they can be implemented in an automated and curated way scalably. 

The problems large enterprises face is one of legacy policy implementation.  It isn't that they are ossified or siloed against reason.  Enterprises must convert a centralized system for implementing policy to a distributed one and, unfortunately, there is a dirth of tools and knowledge available to make the transition on the fly.  Indeed, IT policy is usually the infrastructure component that is most incrementally developed and thus changes the slowest making it the hardest to "upgrade."

Thus while it is relatively easy (read: inexpensive) to adopt DevOps at a small scale and to bring tooling on board and scale increases, it is much harder (read: expensive) to convert a legacy operation that has already achieved scale from a centralized paradigm to a distributed one.

 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 8:24:26 PM
The difficulty with large enterprises....
Rich Wolski, CTO of Eucalyptus Systems, comes closer below than CIO Journal writer did in describing why large enterprise systems are calcified and ossified. It's not that these organizations like to fight rationality.
Archimedius
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Archimedius,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/21/2014 | 8:31:12 PM
Devops is the Future
Am at Future In Review where Vint Cerf talked about the importance of permission-less innovation. Certainly large enterprises need a form of this magic these days, as much as smaller businesses. Devops is the future for organizations of all sizes.
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
5/21/2014 | 11:48:30 PM
Re: Devops is the Future
Hi Greg (I assume), long time no speak!

I will have to look up Cerf's ideas on this. I can guess at the premise, and I do agree.

For sure, it is increasingly clear that older enterprises especially need to do special to enable faster innovation. Almost every day a new technology-based business threatens these older businesses. They must react faster, better. cheaper with inovation of their own.

I wrote in 'The Innovative CIO' about IT leaders stepping up to push innovatve technology ideas to other part of the business, but also enabling those other areas to pull technology innovation for themselves too.

DevOps helps on both sides of this equation too - enabling IT to be more responsive, but also allowing business to more rapidly get from ideation to minimum viable product. It is a no-brainer to me, too. 

Andi Mann, CA Technologies

 
JoeEmison
IW Pick
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JoeEmison,
User Rank: Strategist
5/22/2014 | 8:44:17 AM
Revenue v Expenses
One challenge to DevOps in the enterprise is that--from a balance sheet perspective--it's not clear that it's a great option. This is for a few reasons. First, the real cost savings in DevOps is layoffs, and most enterprises don't seem to have the ability to cut staff massively (for one, it would be a very high and unnecessary career risk to get rid of a bunch of IT employees in the name of DevOps the savior). Second, the real business benefit (top-line revenue) relates to agility (I like "permissionless innovation" as a term here), but I would argue that using something like SkyTap or just generally using the public cloud to give your developers and staff that agility would be much less risky (and cheaper) than implementing good DevOps.

I love DevOps, and we devote a very large percentage of our budgets to DevOps, but when I think about enterprises with their silos and policies and ossification, I just see DevOps as something that's going to have a really high pain threshold to implement, and, from a practical standpoint, I'm going to get the major benefits of it by embracing the public cloud for dev/test.  And if I'm at an enterprise, the additional cost of running stuff on the public cloud is going to be tiny compared to the benefits I should reap from the efforts.
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
5/22/2014 | 4:22:58 PM
Re: Revenue v Expenses
Joe, thanks for your comment. It is a good perspective to the conversation. We must never ignore the revenue and expense implication sof technology. IT exists to help the business make money, after all, and a DevOps initiative is not going to be free. Even the open source software that is often cited at the center of DevOps is not without associated costs.

However, from an expense perspective, the benefit is not just through layoffs. Reducing thrash, reducing errors and defects, reducing tool costs all contribute to bottom line benefits. Moreover, there are top-line results as well. As the research linked in my article says, DevOps is also associated with increase in revenue, new products that could not have been made available before, penetration into new markets and attraction of new customers.

In any case, in my experience, most IT orgs have more than enough to do, so improving output through DevOps (or automation in general) mostly results in more projects being moved into and through the queue, rather than staff being laid off. Throughout the history of automation, this has been true; although it is also true that automation has allowed organizations to reduce their staffing when that was already on the cards e.g. because of other financial pressures. As we head out of the recession, rather than into one, I don't see layoffs as a big issue.

Also, there is no conflict between a Devops approach and using public cloud. Indeed, they often go together very well. As you say, that is where agility comes from. I advocate enterprises look to both, whether separately or hand-in-hand, for best results.


Andi.
JoeEmison
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JoeEmison,
User Rank: Strategist
5/22/2014 | 8:18:45 PM
Re: Revenue v Expenses
Andi-- I don't disagree with anything you're saying, but I don't think you have anything hard enough there to justify DevOps over other priorities in IT focus. Especially in a post-Target world, where the CIO sure cares a whole lot more about being tossed out for a breach than the incremental and difficult-to-quantify-and-justify DevOps benefits. (And we know security is a complete mess in every enterprise).
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
5/23/2014 | 2:31:52 AM
Re: Revenue v Expenses
Fair point Joe.

'Hard enough'? Well, research data showing these results from 1300 respondents in finance, healthcare, manufacturing, public sector, telco, at IT executive, manager, project lead, ent. architect level in enterprise orgs with revenues > $100M is not bad. But not hard enough for some I guess! ;)

But it is absolutely true that there are many competing priorities, and in the big scheme of things DevOps will often take a back seat. Cloud, mobile, security, alignment and other initiatives continually top that list. DevOps does not. Many might say it should - and that it helps with some or all of these others - but hard reality is that it doesn't.

As a related aside, I really wish CIOs were focused on security post-Target. You are right, it is such a mess for many businesses. Some certainly are focusing there, but every day a new breach suggests this is not the case for many others, despite surveys that consistently put security as the #1 priority. As a consumer and a customer, not least an informed tecnologist, this makes me despair.

Andi.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/22/2014 | 5:31:49 PM
"Permission-less organizations"....
Good point. Thanks for comment on need for "permission-less organizations" from Archimedius, also known as Greg Ness, director of worldwide marketing at CloudVelocity.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/27/2014 | 12:44:00 PM
Cockcroft: Not doing DevOps? Prepare to be disrupted
May 27 email comment from ex-Netflix architect, current Battery Ventures advisor Adrian Cockcroft: "I know Andi and I tweeted a response at the time. Basically Enterprises that aren't ready to do DevOps will be disrupted by those that are. Adrian"
rictelford
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rictelford,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/28/2014 | 9:40:13 AM
DevOps as part of Enterprise IT transformation
Andi - great post.  I actually enjoyed Rachel's post as well, despite the headline, stating that DevOps is not yet ready for the Enterprise.  As you state, we all know Enterprises are already benefiting from DevOps.  The key point I think she misses is that DevOps is part of the current transformation that all Enterprises are (or need to be) going through.  The transformation centers around moving to a cloud-centric delivery model.  As cloud-based projects are funding in the enterprise, DevOps should be the rule, not the exception.  As cloud spreads, so will the DevOps model.  Any transformation takes time, so it is important that CIOs don't treat DevOps as an ON/OFF switch - it needs to be adopted at a rate and pace with which the business is comfortable.
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
5/29/2014 | 6:38:41 PM
Re: DevOps as part of Enterprise IT transformation
Thansk for the comment Ric. Yes, Rachel's original was actually a purposeful post, and not entirely off base. It did raise some important points, and certainly charged an important conversation. With all the piling on over the past week, I think it is important to restate that I also thought there was some really spot-on commentary in her original piece.

it is interesting to consider the impact of cloud too, that is a great point. I wonder if devops is really possible (or at least, would it have happened) without cloud? It is such a key foundation - like agile development and IT automation. Certainly as more projects move to the cloud it is a great opportunity for even the largest orgs to pivot to a DevOps approach. This makes the transofrmation so much more digestable!

Andi.
rictelford
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rictelford,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/2/2014 | 10:47:09 AM
Re: DevOps as part of Enterprise IT transformation
Andi - here is my thought on DevOps-without-Cloud - back in 2006, my team at IBM worked with MSFT to draft something we called Service Modeling Language (SML) which was aimed at aiding what we now called DevOps - bridging the gaps between Development and Operations.  It never really took off because a spec alone could not simplify the complexities of differences between development systems and deployment systems.  The cloud delivery model is what is helping address that complexity.  It drives standardization and makes it more appealing for developers and operations to agree on a common, cloud-delivered environment on which to both develop and deploy.
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
6/2/2014 | 11:40:32 PM
Re: DevOps as part of Enterprise IT transformation
Ah Ric, I remember SML very well. IIRC, I wrote a very positive research note on it when I was at EMA. It was a great initiative, very disappointing it was not picked up more broadly.

The cloud delivery model is not a full substitute for SML of course, but I agree with what you are saying about  standardization and ease of use. It is a fundamental shift in how developers can do what they need to, when they need to; and ops can manage that 'agreed' environment.

The cost benefit is not a bad thing either!


andi.


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