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DevOps: Ready to Shift to Continuous Delivery?

The shift in approach to providing infrastructure for critical and value-generating applications, from on-premise and leased data center hardware to cost-efficient and secure cloud providers, has made the value of cloud deployment clear.

But as McKinsey notes, taking full advantage of the opportunities in the cloud requires evaluation of an organization’s current processes and workflows. Integrating both agile practices and a DevOps culture into your development and operations teams will maximize the value and return from your IT investments.

 

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Continuous Deployment Is the Cornerstone of Agile DevOps

Maintaining high standards of quality for a team’s software product requires a lot of work that only begins when developers finish new features or bug fixes. While unit tests can be run on workstations to provide quick feedback to developers, full testing can slow staff down as they wait for results.

Security vulnerabilities identified by static analysis and code coverage reporting require hefty hardware to perform. Style standards, performance assessment, smoke testing, and even profanity checking are often desirable steps to standardize and verify for compliance as code moves from developer to production. Continuous integration products automate this pipeline, ensuring consistency as your product evolves and matures.

Even with sturdy continuous integration (CI), acceptance testing, and production teams in place, feature freezes and long release cycles are common in many release management setups. The 2020 Annual State of Agile Report indicated that 45% of companies weren’t using automated build and unit testing tools, and only 54% had adopted continuous integration tooling in their release management process.

The answer to moving faster involves, in part, establishing continuous delivery (CD) of your product to customers. Rather than handing off your software at a set point in time to the release process after tests, code coverage, static analysis, and other tasks are completed in your CI workflows; CD picks up where CI leaves off.

Combined with Infrastructure-as-Code practices, continuous delivery is able to build your software artifacts and deploy them automatically to testing environments that closely mirror your production architecture. Thanks to this approach, previously manual release tasks like integration and acceptance testing can be performed by the system with real-time feedback to your team if any problems are encountered.

Once the product’s release checklist goes green, the same build artifacts used in testing are reused to generate a production build with development and testing dependencies removed. Continuous delivery gives you the confidence that while every commit in the development process may not be released to production, they will only be dependent on your business needs.

How You Can Improve IT with DevOps Services

While continuous delivery is an important aspect of implementing a true DevOps workflow in your organization, maximizing potential benefits from cost-reduction and faster feature deployment requires more than deploying a few tools to your operations workflow.

DevOps represents a change of mindset for both developers and systems administration staff. Research involving six organizations who have adopted DevOps shows that while all felt the change was highly beneficial to their organization, they all struggled to establish consistency of practice and shared expectations across teams.

Just as Agile workflows can either genuinely enhance your key KPIs or hinder everyone who hasn’t fully bought into the process, DevOps often requires outside expertise to help your team grow into their new responsibilities and opportunities. Operations staff are often uncomfortable with developer processes such as managing their infrastructure configuration in version control systems and working in a code editor rather than maintaining a collection of scripts to perform their tasks.

The same code quality practices that developers have put to good use over the years are just as relevant to systems administrators’ work output. Conversely, developers often fear introducing costly mistakes into infrastructure deployments and even breaking production. One goal of DevOps is to end the isolation of operations teams from product development teams.

Elevating Company Culture with DevOps

The organizational and cultural benefits to adopting DevOps practices are apparent to most people who’ve dug into it and considered how this methodology might fit into their own companies. Product teams who currently work in isolation become part of a greater team, with resources shifted as needed to address immediate business needs and wants.

Developers are delighted that they have the chance to contribute across a variety of fronts to their employer’s success. Operations people are happier as their skill set is enhanced and fears of being left behind in technology are cast aside. A reduction of complexity in day-to-day development and operations work, earlier defect detection that catches errors before they hit production, and timely and fast roll-out of features raises everyone’s satisfaction level across the board. Happiness is directly quantifiable too, as developers are 1.3 times likely to take on additional responsibility, and 1.6 times as likely to encourage friends to join their organizations.

This cultural shift can also induce cultural stress; especially in regulated industries like automotive software, healthcare software, and financial software, and others. For businesses where mistakes in production can easily result in seven-figure losses like e-commerce software, extensive controls are normally in place to prevent errors. Compliance practices have been established over time in these industries, often in response to problems that came to light only through experience won in the school of hard knocks.

DevOps asks us to throw out that deep-seated cultural aversion to risk, trust the process, and move fast. It can take a massive cultural shift to overcome that caution. But rather than being at odds with each other, risk management and DevOps can be complementary approaches to sharing mutual problems. Control functions that exist to ensure regulatory compliance can be refactored, just as software is, and having an experienced and professional partner with deep expertise in these industries can help.

Move Faster and Safer with Fortech DevOps Services Teams

It’s clear that adopting continuous delivery and DevOps would benefit your organization internally.

  • The shift can drive improvements in your staff’s work/ life balance, reducing burnout and staffing costs.
  • Customer satisfaction with your product is certain to improve with streamlined workflows, leading to market share gains.
  • Automating formerly manual processes will result in reduced infrastructure spend and greater leverage in your IT investment and cost-efficiency.

However, realizing these benefits can be a challenge without the right development team supporting you. Fortech’s expertise in DevOps and cloud professional services can help you to take advantage of this growing technology to help you remain agile and respond swiftly to changes in the market, elevating the value of your business.

Our dedicated team at Fortech helped to provide ongoing software testing and DevOps services for a client in the healthcare industry after the successful implementation of speech recognition technology. Learn more about it in our Speech Recognition Platform case study.

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