infoTECH Feature

July 09, 2015

How DevOps is Changing the Game for Enterprise IT

Traditionally, there existed the classic dichotomy between the IT department and the operations side of businesses. Development was handled by developers, who were subsequently surrounded by a layer of support staff that would deal with the day-to-day banter to keep customers happy and the service end of the company up and running.

The role of the developer for more than two decades has been to stick strictly to code-related issues, while traditional IT departments tended to take on a more maintenance-heavy role. Slowly, but surely, the landscape is changing and developers are growing in terms of reach and responsibility. We have arrived at a point in history that brings a new department to the table: DevOps.

Most businesses are still using the traditional IT model to secure their IT-specific resources and assets. Is there something wrong with this?

We first need to explore how DevOps changes the way in which an enterprise does its work.

The Problem with IT

In product development, there is practically no such thing as “being on time”. Projects get delayed, deployments take longer than anticipated, and when the project is finally delivered, it will perform somewhat below expectations.

There’s a bit of complacency when it comes to these factors concerning the IT department. More ambitious businesses will push their IT staff to trim the margins to pick up the pace, eventually reducing the delays and rushing to add features they’re not very sure customers need. IT is sluggish and frustrating at times, and it’s become just another part of the reality of getting something to market.

Along with this, the IT department responsible for launching a product often does not work alongside the developers who made it. This creates some discrepancy in both the support and distribution life-cycle of the product. Then there’s the fact that deployments sometimes require skill that is not within the range of your average IT staffer. Sure, many of them may have been versed in Ruby, Perl, C, or even assembly language, but you’d be stretching yourself far and wide to find a handful of them within a group of ten.

What DevOps Solves

To a DevOps team, everything about the product is their job. They’ll do whatever it takes to develop, deploy, support, and maintain any product. Teams like these usually come in small sizes, but the talent they bring to the table is hard to overestimate.

The IT department is much like samurai, a very heavily-armored and well-equipped soldier specializing in archery while handy with a sword. But a DevOps squad is more like a ninja: a minimalistic, agile, extremely practical soldier that is versed in the art of combat. It blends into its environment flawlessly and takes a tactical approach to every battle, making it a force to be reckoned with.

Allusions to Sengoku-era Japan aside, the DevOps team focuses on agility, releasing projects in small manageable bits that develop into something more customer-oriented over time. This is in contrast to the “big release” model used in most businesses where iterations usually add a great many features and take a long time to develop. Incremental and rapid iteration is where it’s at now!

ROI And DevOps Careers

The ROI is there, but if you need an exact figure, DevOps.Com puts it at a 19 percent improvement in revenue. The fact that you’re hiring a smaller team certainly plays a role in this, but you also cannot discount the amount of productivity and talent that comes from such a team. As for their careers, they ultimately reap benefits that many in the workforce would envy. Incapsula’s DevOps salary survey reveals that the average professional in this field gets paid $105,600. People with at least a decade under their belt can expect an average salary of $135,087. Remember, you’re not hiring a glorified IT engineer. What you’re actually getting is a developer, technical support, a software guru, and a communications expert in each person you hire. “Ninja” fits the bill neatly.

It’s Already Happening

DevOps is already taking the world by storm. This shift in perspective has helped AOL (News - Alert) deploy changes in only 45 minutes (down from 6 hours). PayPal (News - Alert) manages to get code shifted from an IDE to a live environment in just under an hour. Many of the large competitors have realized that DevOps is just one more thing they can use to become more efficient and businesses are saving up to 6 percent by cutting costs. In an environment that requires fast pace to keep customers happy, this new concept in computing infrastructure and project management has given them a new field to play on.

The Challenges

To a company that wants to hop right into DevOps, it’s easy to be frustrated from the very beginning. Completely changing the way you do business (at least internally) is not a matter to be taken lightly, especially considering you probably already have a very established environment that you’re comfortable working with.

DevOps demands that businesses shift their cultural understanding of how project life-cycle work. It also requires a lot of infrastructural changes not everyone is ready to make, such as migrating a majority of legacy systems into the cloud and creating the kind of environment that breeds rapid productivity.

Whether it’s worth it or not for your company is a decision left completely in your hands. But the signs tell us that it’s worth the overhaul.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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