10 ways DevOps helps digital transformation

10 ways DevOps helps digital transformation

DevOps plays an essential role in digital transformation - from identifying patterns to uncovering new revenue streams. In fact, experts say it's hard to have one without the other

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August 13, 2019

Scaling DevOps is no small feat, but consider this: If your DevOps journey is stalled, there’s little hope for your digital transformation. The two are intrinsically connected, experts say.

DevOps helps organizations succeed with digital transformation by shifting the cultural mindset of the business, breaking down detrimental silos, and paving the way for continuous change and rapid experimentation: All those elements help organizations meet evolving customer demands, experts point out. This helps organizations “self-steer” toward better solutions to continually improve, says Matthew Skelton, head of consulting at Conflux and co-author of Team Topologies.

[ See our related article: Why DevOps and cloud are essential to digital transformation. ]

“Digital transformation is almost impossible without well-placed collaboration between different teams building and running IT systems. The speed of technology change is so quick that no one team can expect to understand all the details of relevant technologies, so we need to enable teams to focus on a smaller problem domain,” says Skelton. “Without a foundation of infrastructure automation and well-chosen team collaborations, the rapid pace in digital transformation would be impossible.”

10 DevOps best practices that help digital transformation

Which of these best practices would help your organization make more progress on digital transformation goals?

1. DevOps changes the cultural mindset

Steve Burton, CI/CD & DevOps Evangelist, Harness: "DevOps should be the catalyst or team that accelerates change in any modern business, regardless of whether you call that change digital transformation, cloud-native, or Bob’s Donuts. DevOps is about taking a business idea and helping the business realize that idea ASAP; its not really about technology or buzzwords.

DevOps is about taking a business idea and helping the business realize that idea ASAP; its not really about technology or buzzwords.

Corporate culture is why many large organizations can’t change or transform. They’re too set in the ways of how they’ve developed, shipped, and operated software for the past 25 years. DevOps is a cultural mindset change that is ultimately about making stuff happen for the business without the red tape, bureaucracy, committee meetings, and BS."

2. DevOps unites people, process, and technology

Eran Kinsbruner, technical evangelist, Perfecto: "DevOps enables organizations to release new value to their customers faster, hence allowing them to mature and transform the digital face of those organizations. DevOps unites people, process, and technology: when all three are aligned toward the same business goals, this is when innovation is introduced faster.

DevOps also helps prevent internal waste of people and tools through better focus on what needs to be done around digital innovations. This by itself frees more resources that were either ‘hidden’ or 'wasted' on lower priorities, so that teams can work on the most important and critical features.

Without DevOps, faster releases of new technology to keep up with the competition and respond to market events and customer requirements cannot be met in sufficient time. Ensuring quality of releases and automation of the release process cannot be guaranteed without DevOps, and scaling software innovation would be much harder."

3. DevOps helps uncover patterns that help organizations improve

Helen Beal, DevOpsologist, Ranger4: "DevOps' role in digital transformation is to help organizations understand the patterns and practices that are likely to improve their performance in the face of digital disruption, thus improving their competitive posture. Moving from a traditional hierarchical, command and control enterprise to a digital ready organization, where authority is distributed, autonomy and alignment are balanced, and all are empowered to contribute requires some serious behavioral change.

The DevOps approach helps us understand why optimizing the flow from idea to value realization isn’t just about building a pipeline, and importantly gives us the frameworks and models to work toward from a cultural perspective, too."

[ Thinking about putting off DevOps? Read: DevOps vs. the juice cleanse: Only one is a passing fad. ]

4. DevOps helps teams self-steer toward better solutions

Matthew Skelton, Head of Consulting at Conflux: “DevOps can help make IT infrastructure more testable, resilient, observable, dynamic, and on-demand. This helps digital transformation by enabling safer, more rapid changes to the supporting IT infrastructure, which then enables safer, more rapid changes to software applications and services. We also discover operational requirements sooner, improving operability. The role of DevOps in digital transformation is also to ensure that all changes to build and deploy systems and IT infrastructure are driven from code in version control, removing the ambiguity of manual configuration and enabling traceability back to version control.

DevOps can help to make IT infrastructure more testable, resilient, observable, dynamic, and on-demand.

When combined with rich digital telemetry from modern monitoring and observability tools, we end up with a powerful awareness of our systems that helps to reduce MTTR (Mean Time To Recovery), enabling teams to take real ownership of production services. This in turn helps an organization to respond more quickly to changing market conditions – to 'self-steer' toward better solutions."

5. DevOps makes automation a priority

IT has been so busy automating the world, we almost forgot the benefit of automating our own toil.

Jayne Groll, CEO, DevOps Institute: "DevOps has created a focal point around which enterprises can shape their digital transformation strategies. The DevOps principles of increasing flow, shortening feedback loops, and encouraging continuous learning and experimentation are the seeds upon which digital transformation can become a reality. IT has been so busy automating the world, we almost forgot the benefit of automating our own toil. DevOps advocates the optimization of automation to bring its principles to life.

The caution here is that automation by itself is not the magic solution for either DevOps or digital transformation. Automation has to be authored by people and underpinned by both process and culture. But without CI/CD/SRE automation, digital transformation is much more difficult and competitive advantage much more limited."

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Carla Rudder is a writer and content manager on The Enterprisers Project.

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