John Guido | February 17, 2021
Operations and infrastructure have become more complex than ever, and the combination of technology has meant there is a need to improve how services are developed and delivered. Even if you’ve heard of DevOps, you may not be fully aware of the entire scope of what firms with DevOps skills are capable of doing. By understanding the importance of the work, you can then easily see how partnering with them can add tremendous value when it comes to delivering and scaling projects.
What Do DevOps Teams Do?
DevOps bridges the gap between development and operations. By integrating the two teams, which are usually siloed, DevOps helps developers and operations teams build, test, deploy, and monitor applications with speed, quality, and control. This, in turn, improves the efficiency of the entire application lifecycle. By having engineers work with operations teams in all stages from ideation and building to testing and deployment, DevOps enables organizations to deliver products more reliably and quickly while staying bug-free. This, in turn, shortens the development lifecycle and allows them to improve products at a faster pace. Ultimately, the goal is to increase speed, efficiency, and reliability, all of which can help clients gain a competitive advantage and better serve their customers.
We spoke with Brian McDonald, Director of DevOps Engineering at Lightwell, and Sharan Gurunathan, VP of Engineering at Presidio for more info about what DevOps is, how it is different from traditional application development, and why it’s important.
Brian explained, “DevOps has always existed, but people are just now understanding what it’s about. DevOps takes a lot of the automation and consistency that was evolved in IT operations and applies it across the IT lifecycle and process.”
When discussing the key differences between DevOps and traditional app development, Brian said this:
“Traditional SDLC has very distinct phases of project delivery – phases where you’re discovering, solving solutions, developing, testing, and then releasing. In DevOps, you’ve taken that vertical slicing of what’s going on and flipped it horizontally, where everything is going through the same steps, but at a much smaller scale, meaning the pieces are much more manageable. That way, if an issue is discovered early in the process, it doesn’t require a huge amount of work to fix because there isn’t as much in the future that depends on where you are in that moment. By using that horizontal “plan, implement, release, repeat” cycle, you are much more agile and able to be responsive. You are more reactive as an organization, and you are able to reduce the amount of rework that has to happen over the course of the project, therefore increasing its chances of success.”
Sharan added, “As the name signifies it, DevOps is a combination of culture, practices, foundational tools that are intended to break silos between the traditional application development, infrastructure, operations through automation, transparency with a goal to accelerate outcomes. In a DevOps model, the traditional application development and the operations teams are brought together to eliminate silos. While still, the specialized skills that are needed for each of the roles are different both these roles work together as a single team.”
Trends Influencing DevOps Adoption
The global DevOps market is projected1 to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22.9% and generate a revenue of $23.4 billion between 2020 and 2027. This is due to the following trends:
- Architecture shifts. Most systems are moving from inflexible systems to more agile software. This has catalyzed the adoption of DevOps to shift to microservices architecture, which has the benefit of being able to quickly install, run, and maintain systems. The exponential increase in cloud adoption has also rapidly increased the need for DevOps services.
- Infrastructure changes. The widespread adoption of Kubernetes and container architecture have had a big impact on DevOps. This open-source software is designed to orchestrate management, deployment, and scaling of containers, which in turn leads to enhanced resource management, shortened work cycles, the ability to detect and repair bugs more quickly, and facilitate automation and reduce human error.
- Tech advancements. Release and deployment have typically been a manual operation, and it has always been inefficient. Tech that automates release and deployment boosts efficiency and increases reliability. With the evolution of automation, AI, and machine learning, processing data and making reliable predictions has increased systems’ speed, autonomy, and accuracy. As this is DevOps’ primary function, their services implementing and managing these technologies are invaluable.
If you are seeing a consistent pattern of need for the above across your projects, it may be time to consider adding a DevOps partner to your ecosystem of solution providers.
Sharan from Presidio analyzed trends he’s recognizing in the industry:
“In the next two years, DevOps is likely to become table stakes for every IT organization and the principles are expected to be adopted by most organizations. With any technologies, we expect organizations will have different levels of DevOps adoption and maturity and will continue to evolve.”
He also noted some of the trends he sees maturing and increasing over last year and expecting to continue this year:
- Continued Rise of DevSecOps
- Infrastructure as Code, Maturity of Tools
- Organizations taking a platform approach for accelerating adoption
- Focused investment in training and enablement of teams
- Focus on capturing metrics behind the evaluation of various DevOps initiatives
Brian from Lightwell also spoke to the trends and customer priorities affecting the need for DevOps:
“A lot of it comes down to customers needing to move fast. One example from our clients is the California Protection Act that went into effect last year – customers had one year to respond to a relatively large amount of change within the organization. We had a client who began the project with only three months left to complete it once they had decided to move forward. By using our DevOps delivery process, we were able to move their project into the system as fast as possible. The implementation needed some small refinements to polish it, but the client was compliant, and ultimately, it helped them focus on the core of the project. That kind of speed to resolution would not have been practical under the SDLC methodology, as you would have had to constantly be rebuilding the target environment when it was done.
Another great example of speed of delivery is during a meeting with this same customer about the value of agile software development and rapid deployment through DevOps, they mentioned a minor change they wanted, but said they didn’t want to disrupt the project schedule. We quickly messaged the developers and by the end of our meeting, the change was already deployed. The client was able to see that rapid execution is possible, which takes a lot of pressure off them to feel like they have to get it perfect from the beginning.”
How Can Partnering with a DevOps Firm Add Value?
In a non-DevOps working environment, there is often tension when a new update or version release comes up, this is because the operations team usually doesn’t see anything until the development team is finished. This can cause major issues and delays. DevOps is designed to eliminate these hurdles, as the whole team is responsible for delivering a stable product or service.
1. Shared responsibility
DevOps creates a sense of shared responsibility as the whole team works on the project together at every stage, thus resulting in fewer errors as both sides are aware of all aspects of the project and can diagnose and fix issues together.
2. Saves time
By collaborating with a DevOps partner on projects, clients’ development cycle can be dramatically reduced – from months to just weeks, even days in some cases. Unbelievable? It’s been proven: DevOps teams can deploy 106 times faster and 208 times more frequently than non-DevOps teams.2
3. Faster bug fixing
Bugs aren’t always obvious until deployment, then it falls on the operations team to identify the issue and relay it back to the development team. This is not ideal when consumers are relying on your service to be up and running on-demand.
By following a Continuous Integration approach with DevOps, fixing bugs is faster than ever because of the improved communication between the teams, enabling clients to find the issue before the application even hits deployment.
Continuous Integration means smaller code changes more frequently. There is also continuous testing using automatic methods such as TDD (Test Driven Development) to help keep code issue-free.
4. Improved collaboration
A DevOps implements risk and trust-sharing culture between the two teams. Under the hood of DevOps is an agile, iterative approach, modular programming, and breaking the code base up into smaller elements. This means that everything is more manageable for both development and operations, making the entire process more streamlined.
5. Increased Customer Satisfaction
Arguably the most important aspect is making sure that the people using your clients’ services and applications are happy. DevOps is designed not only to make things easier for your team but to benefit the customer with a robust and reliable product.
While it’s always helpful to have a bug report from users, why even let it go that far? DevOps can prevent bugs and issues from even making it into the final release and causing clients’ end-users to have a bad experience.
Brian spoke at length about some of the major benefits to your customers of partnering with a DevOps firm:
“Previously it wasn’t uncommon for someone to deliver an application project to an operations group with some serious architecture problems that needed to be fixed before it could actually be put into production. With DevOps, the process ‘shifts left’ so to speak, so that the operations team is more involved earlier in the deployment and development cycle, which gives them a look forward in how it will perform, be deployed, and how it will scale once it hits an actual environment.
The other piece of it is the actual speed to implementation, which helps you overcome the ability to shift fast. The classic example is having a project that took nine months to develop and then once it was delivered is nine months out of date, meaning the customer no longer wanted it. By being able to rapidly iterate not only the code but the environment that is delivering the code, you can stay much more in-tune with the customers’ needs.”
Sharan also broke down the types of DevOps firms businesses can partner with:
“Over the last few years, there have been a lot of tools that have come to market with the DevOps bandwagon. This has led to firms in two kinds of camps:
Firms with a focus on a particular set of tools (example – Implementing Vault for secrets management). These firms are great for addressing a small need and it is good to look for appropriate certifications and focused credentials of the team members.
Firms with a broader focus on various tools, experience, and expertise across the different practices such as building web and mobile applications, deploying analytics solutions, infrastructure automation, etc. These types of firms are ideal to partner with to bring transformation to the entire organization. We would recommend evaluating these partners based on the combination of the demonstrated expertise, how they have adopted DevOps practices within their organization boundaries and validate on the outcomes that they have achieved.”
How Partnering With DevOps Promotes Growth
From a business standpoint, one of the biggest benefits is the faster delivery of clients’ products or services. Since there is an increased frequency in releases, there is a monumental 2604 times3 faster recovery rate from incidents or bug issues, which means less worry about the frequency at which releases are deployed.
Collaborating with DevOps firms who are experienced on your projects allows your company to provide clients with quick returns on your investments, as it enables them to release more new products and constantly improve existing products to maximize profitability. Furthermore, by reducing the number of time clients’ teams spend detecting and fixing issues, DevOps implementation provides clients with more time to innovate, and cuts cost by reducing speed to delivery.
Integrating DevOps into client projects also boosts productivity. By consistently delivering reliable products, DevOps can help clients save up to 60% of the time spent handling support cases. As you can see, partnering with a DevOps firm can provide tremendous value for your clients.
There is an extensive list of what a company can gain from partnering with a firm that has strong DevOps skills such as continuous software delivery, reduced complexity, faster problem resolution, productive and happier teams, higher engagement, fast feature delivery, more stable releases, improved team collaboration, and more time to work on new implementations without worrying about release stability.
If you think adding a DevOps partner to your ecosystem could be of benefit to your clients, and are interested in connecting with experienced, top-tier providers, P2P Global can help you find the perfect match. Contact us or request a demo today and discuss how we connect you with the perfect partner to complete your projects and provide value for your clients.