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DevOps: the digital business accelerator

Jessica Twentyman — April 2015
The fusion of software development and IT operations teams is needed to satisfy growing customer expectations for robust, rapidly evolving applications, says CA Technologies’ Mike Gregoire.

With its focus on rolling out new software faster and with fewer errors, it’s no surprise that many CIOs are keen advocates of DevOps.

In a recent poll of technology leaders conducted by IT management software company CA Technologies, 82% of CIOs and CTOs claimed they’d already adopted some elements of the DevOps approach in their own organizations, with a further 15% planning to do so.

The reason for their enthusiasm is clear, as Mike Gregoire, CEO of CA Technologies, highlights in our exclusive video. In short, technology leaders are increasingly finding that established, tried-and-tested ways of building and deploying new applications are simply too slow in a fast-moving digital world.

In the days when developers spent months building and testing new software, he explains, IT operations staff could comfortably spend the same amount of time carefully prepping a production environment where that software would run.

“Now fast-forward to where we are today,” he says. “You have a developer writing code for Android or iOS, where they’re taking product data, pricing data, customer marketing data, mashing up an application and using APIs, and doing all that in the course of a day or two and then wanting to put that out on the website.”
High speed, low risk

In other words, today’s software is built quickly, released quickly and frequently updated. Moving at that kind of speed leaves a business open to all kinds of risks. What happens if the application doesn’t work as planned? What happens if the application is flawless but proves so popular that the company’s data center is overwhelmed by incoming web traffic? Either way, the business’s reputation could take a battering.

On the other hand, a slower approach could be equally risky if it means that the fleet-footed competitors outpace the business. “Nobody wants to slow things down,” says Gregoire. “You’ve got an application that you think is going to drive economic value for you, but you also want to make sure you don’t break the franchise in the process of [pursuing] that.”

It’s a tricky dilemma, but DevOps is all about introducing speed, “but with adult supervision,” says Gregoire. In other words, it’s about controlled velocity.

For example, DevOps encourages developers and IT operations staff to work closely together on software projects from inception through to launch, pooling their skills and experience so that they can anticipate and pre-empt delays before they arise. Close collaboration also means shorter feedback loops, so unanticipated issues are dealt with more promptly. And automation technologies are frequently deployed to handle time-consuming tasks, such as configuration management, that were previously performed manually by IT staff.

It means that companies who master DevOps are able to reap the rewards of digital innovation while simultaneously reducing the risks involved, says Gregoire.

“When you think of the companies that are doing this, these are some of the biggest companies in the world. They want to be innovative but they don’t want their brand damaged. And the whole concept of DevOps allows a process that used to take days, weeks and months [to be] compressed into hours, and still provides the same level of quality. When the new application is in production there is a belief that the security’s OK, that you’re not going to saturate the usability of the data center or the cloud service that you provide, and that the application is going to perform as expected.”
First published
April 2015
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About: Mike Gregoire
A 27-year veteran of software and services, Mike Gregoire has been leading the resurgence of $4.3bn IT management giant CA Technologies since 2012. As competitive on a racing bike as in the tech arena, the Canadian was earlier CEO of SaaS talent management pioneer Taleo.
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