Why digital transformation is incomplete without DevOps

Digital transformation success depends on a culture of communication and collaboration. Here’s how DevOps helps foster that culture
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Infinity lines to illustrate the concept of DevOps

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many organizations quickly realized the need to advance their digital business programs, and that advancement has not slowed down.

The forecasted boom in digital transformation indicates that businesses are increasingly aware of the need for digitalization to succeed. However, even with the influx of investment in digital transformation, research shows that while 77 percent have commenced their transformation journey in the last two years, only 27 percent have completed it.

So if an organization has phased out legacy tools and upgraded its technologies, what else does it need to complete its digital transformation successfully?

In a word: culture. More specifically, DevOps (development and operations) culture.

What is DevOps culture?

Since digital transformation goes beyond implementing new tools and technologies, organizations must first implement a robust DevOps culture that encourages communication and collaboration between departments. Tools and technologies can come into play after the culture is in place.

Without DevOps, responsibilities get siloed because there is no cross-team communication. Developers write and test code, then give it to the operations team to deploy and release the software.

However, numerous code deliveries and siloed responsibilities extend the time between releases. Beyond that, ownership of the end product is muddled, and any problems can turn into a blame game that doesn’t help anyone. In today’s fast-paced digital world, teams must constantly innovate to keep up with the competition. Delays cost money.

[ Also read DevOps: 3 steps to plan and execute a successful project. ]

This is where DevOps comes in. One of the main tenets is quick and constant delivery, and DevOps culture is all about the collective “we” of both development and operations team members.

When there’s a problem, teams work to figure out how to prevent it from happening again rather than backtracking to place blame. DevOps culture champions teamwork but also enables autonomy. In a DevOps culture, a developer can not only write and test their code but also push it to production, giving them a greater sense of responsibility over it.

This autonomy is encouraged through cross-team collaboration that breaks down information silos. When information about a project is shared freely between teams, delivery speed increases and errors decrease.

Further, the development and operations teams should function as a united front. When they work together, they also have the opportunity to take responsibility for the full software lifecycle. This prevents individual culpability and increases productivity.

Beyond teamwork, a DevOps culture values automation. Automating manual processes increases efficiency by eliminating the toil of time-consuming, repetitive tasks and the possibility of human error.

When teams communicate, they collaborate more effectively, leading to faster response times and more improvements to products and services.

Automation is a departure from the hands-on approach of traditional IT practitioners, but DevOps’ proclivity for automation frees up time they can use to work on high-value projects and ongoing improvements. While speed and innovation are the ultimate goals of DevOps, many organizations see immediate benefits from improved efficiency and consequently, reduced costs.

The heart of DevOps culture is communication. When teams communicate, they collaborate more effectively, leading to faster response times and more improvements to products and services. DevOps culture is innovative, agile, and competitive.

DevOps culture needs AIOps

DevOps culture values the rapid deployment of products and services, and end users expect constant uptime. To ensure continuous availability, these products and services must be consistently monitored. In today’s fast-paced environment, however, multiple monitoring tools bog down DevOps teams and overwhelm them with information.

This is where artificial intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps) comes in. AIOps tools look at the holistic IT landscape instead of just one point at a time like legacy monitoring systems. AIOps cuts through the noise to identify data anomalies that can lead to downtime-causing incidents.

AIOps centralizes monitoring information onto one platform so that DevOps teams can see the big-picture view of their entire system. AIOps gives context by summarizing the data from disparate tools and identifying incidents early in their lifecycle, with machine learning algorithms that adapt rapidly to enable the continuous nature of deployment. DevOps teams can tackle problems before they go live, increasing uptime and saving teams time and money.

DevOps professionals appreciate the workflow automation and decreased mean time to resolution (MTTR) brought about by AIOps. Less time spent on fixes means more time available to work on innovating and accelerating digital transformation initiatives.

Digital transformation is critical to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing digital world, but that transformation is incomplete without integrating DevOps culture. When teams communicate and work together, they can increase productivity and uptime, ultimately increasing their bottom line. Introducing AIOps into DevOps culture will set up businesses for success in their digital transformation efforts.

[ Learn the non-negotiable skills, technologies, and processes CIOs are leaning on to build resilience and agility in this HBR Analytic Services report: Pillars of resilient digital transformation: How CIOs are driving organizational agility. ]

As Moogsoft's CTO & chief evangelist, Richard brings a keen sense of what is required to build transformational solutions. As a CTO and technology VP, Richard brought new technologies to market and was responsible for strategy, partnerships and product research.