Discover Performance

HP Software's community for IT leaders // July 2014

Delivering DevOps to enterprise IT

HP Software Professional Services experts Shamim Ahmed and Kees van den Brink talk about how large enterprise organizations can embrace DevOps.

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DevOps can help organizations address competitive challenges by extending the most valuable aspects of Agile development (improved time to market, higher quality, and lower costs) through to operations. But for large enterprises with entrenched traditional systems, DevOps can present a challenge.

While Agile software development has taken root in many organizations, few large-scale enterprises have embraced it—though many, notes HP Software Professional Services consultant Kees van den Brink, are now considering undertaking that transformation.

It’s about culture more than anything else—and is not necessarily driven by Agile development, notes Shamim Ahmed, CTO for application solutions and a longtime Agile proponent. Stakeholders from both the business and the technology side, he says, need to collaborate and become more responsive to change.

Discover Performance asked both men what they’re seeing as they visit with customers, and how enterprise-level IT operations can embrace the advantages of DevOps.

Q: So, have you seen successful DevOps projects at the enterprise level?

Kees van den Brink
Kees van den Brink: Yes. Just to give an example, recently I witnessed a large financial institution that is transforming to pure DevOps successfully creating many DevOps teams and organizing the IT department using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). In HP Software Professional Services, we call this Enterprise Agile, since it’s not just dev and ops that need to align; the business needs to, as well.


Q: Presumably, any Agile development team will want that agility to continue through to operations. Is that how DevOps enters the enterprise, in discrete teams that then grow and spread?

Shamim Ahmed: Many customers approach DevOps from this perspective. However, DevOps does not have to be driven by Agile development; it works with other lifecycle paradigms as well. For many customers, the key drivers are repeatability, predictability, quality, and business assurance. The focus here is on collaborative practices that enable better systems engineering in support of repeatable processes, predictable outcomes, and high-quality systems.

Q: It seems like a real challenge to take DevOps or Agile from the team level to the enterprise level.

Kees van den Brink: It can be a challenge. There are various ways to establish this. Another interesting view on what is needed to establish DevOps in an organization is related to the three principles underpinning DevOps, as defined by Gene Kim.

Q: If your Agile teams are pushing to introduce DevOps, how should an ops leader react? Why embrace it, and how do you embrace it wisely, or miss the common pitfalls?

Shamim Ahmed
Shamim Ahmed: The ops leader should welcome the change. DevOps does not mean that the ops organization goes away. (That’s the extreme left, "NoOps" view that we don’t agree with.)

DevOps helps increase the prominence and effectiveness of the ops organization, since ops will be embraced earlier in the lifecycle through systems engineering, rather than apps engineering. Apps will be "built to run" (rather than "fixed to run"), and releases will be smoother.

Also, with DevOps, dev will jointly share accountability for the key metrics that keep ops up at night: release rollback rate, release velocity, mean time to failure, mean time to recovery.

Q: How does IT ops have to change to make DevOps work? 

Kees van den Brink: Ops needs to accept a new way of working and, as Shamim indicates, ops engineers need to participate in Agile projects. They are responsible for the user stories and the non-functional requirements needed to automate the operations management environment.

Q: Where do people go to start understanding how to bring DevOps into a larger enterprise?

Kees van den Brink: An interesting read on how Agile can work in a large organization is a book by former HP exec Gary Gruver, A Practical Approach to Large-Scale Agile Development. It describes the journey that HP’s LaserJet firmware development team went through to become Agile. [Gene Kim holds up Gruver’s work as a prime DevOps example in this issue.]

Shamim Ahmed and Kees van den Brink consult with enterprise IT leaders around the world for HP Software Professional Services, helping to drive successful IT transformations.

For more on DevOps transformation, read the Professional Services white paper, "DevOps: Unify AppDelivery" (reg.req’d).               



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