DevOps is like Climate Change


Yes indeed, DevOps is a pressing reality for IT survival

… we all know we need to do something about it, but there are a few entrenched deniers, a lot of people looking the other way and those would like to do something but don’t know where to start!
This blog is for those wanting tips on where to start…

But first, a few thoughts on the how and why this came about!
(Can’t help myself it’s been too fascinating watching this emerge ;-])

I’ve been doing IT review/assessment work since the late ‘90s in various forms (ITIL, ISO 20000, COBIT etc). When it came to Testing/Release/Change processes, the bulk of organisations struggled to fund and manage enough hardware to do testing in “production like” environments. So we all shrugged and said “ah well”… and added more controls ;-]

We struggled like this for 20 years then…
Enter Cloud computing IaaS ….

  • AWS, Azure, VMWare, OpenStack. Etc

So, the environments problem is solving itself one stack at a time. The trajectory is abundantly clear on this. Market demand is driving change.

Meanwhile, in the battle for the consumer, digital disruption has emerged. A bunch of software based technology services companies decide that they want to take on traditional business models and do it as fast and cheaply as they can e.g. Uber, Netflix, RealEstate.com etc. These businesses are pure Value Stream structures…no silos!!

For the disruptors, it’s all about how to get the features to the customer.

Enter DevOps tooling & practices which could be summarized as:

  • Infrastructure as Code for environments… Puppet, Chef, Ansible
  • Containerisation to simplify architectures and improve flow….Docker,
  • Test automation to “shift left”, reduce labour & increase velocity…Jenkins, Cucumber etc
  • Codification of DevOps into books and conference presentations… DevOps days, DevOps for Dummies, Gene Kim’s “The Phoenix Project” and soon to be released (hopefully) DevOps Cookbook

Traditional business models are under siege!

In reaction, traditional businesses and government are latching on to movements like Lean Startup and what’s this thing called Agile? They decide on a “Digital First” strategy and start throwing effort into building software to “Digitalise” the business. Expectations and “need for speed” are through the roof.

So now we have Demand side pull from the business, we have Cloud computing resources and we have DevOps capabilities. It must be time to sort out the Supply side of Enterprise IT.

And that is what DevOps is…it’s how we get the Supply side of IT in synch with Demand.  Essentially Ops becomes part of a value stream that joins external Customer – to the Business – to the Developers – to the Operators.  If we get this right it is a huge enabler for the business.

I can’t tell you how energising it was to chair a DevOps conference in Melbourne recently where RealEstate.com and Domain spoke about how they get features to market to compete with each other on a day to day basis.  And even Gene Kim was impressed with how one of our Aussie banks can now make changes to banking systems in business hours!  It’s already happening here in Australia while you read this.

So how do we go about this transformation in enterprise IT?

Fortunately there are a lot of great – free – resources

(Unlike when we started with ITIL with no benefits data, no implementation guidance and no clear business driver…but in the end that was just about getting our act together on the Supply side.)

DevOps people like to share.  Here are some of my favourite sources:

As an IT Operating Model advisor, I get to talk to a lot of clients and practitioners around the traps and as an avid Goat, I absorb and synthesise a lot of content!

So, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up around the traps over the last couple of years:

  • Don’t just get Dev and Ops to sit together and hope for osmosis. – it just feels weird ;-] Put some serious thought into it before you start. Be clear on your objectives and create a plan, starting small first and engaging your early adopter “goats” (see link above)
  • You will need environments and tools to get this happening so you may need seed funding. Hence the start small. On the other hand, the business is driving digital and your developers are almost certainly doing/exploring agile so you will find that there is an appetite. It won’t be a hard sell..ummm would you like us to do IT better, faster and cheaper?
  • It is not necessary to set up different Operating Models for DevOps and traditional ITSM. These capabilities can co-exist. You need to come off a strong, business focused ITSM footing and work on higher velocity in Change and Release processes.
    This from Gene Kim:  “It is my firm belief that ITSM and the DevOps movement are not at odds. Quite to the contrary, they’re a perfect cultural match.” From http://www.theitsmreview.com/2014/03/trust-devops-movement-fits-perfectly-itsm/
  • Bring DevOps into the mix in selecting your tools. Your ITSM tools should be able to cope with the “fast lane” i.e. the CMDB should be able to integrate with Infrastructure as Code tools. Your new Apps services need be internally instrumented so you know what’s going on and integrated with monitoring tools
  • Evaluate your Infrastructure partners, in particular Managed Service Partners, on their ability to provide DevOps services. Can they move at DevOps speed? Can they provision environments, provide tooling and integrate with the agile development practices?

It’s clearly time to get cracking on this before our Islands of IT go under (re-read title please ;-])! All the resources are available, now it depends on leadership to take on the cultural change challenge and make a plan to get this done so your business can get on with competing in their markets without the constraint of a “heritage IT” department.

I guess I should end here and leave more for another day. Just on that, I’ll be running DevOps Foundation (http://devopsinstitute.com) training with long term Partners:

ALC http://www.alctraining.com.au/course/devops-foundation/

HDAA https://www.hdaa.com.au/TrainingDevelopment/Calendar/3050/DevOps-Foundation-Training

Drowning in Support? Go Social & Multichannel

I’ve recently completed a series of Social and MultiChannel IT workshops for the Help Desk Association of Australia (HDAA).   Aside from having a great time with the HDAA fraternity, we validated the use of Social in IT support and shared some stories about what’s happening out there already! I was pleased to hear that chat and live social feeds are already in use in some IT support organisations.  Presentation is available at: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidFavelle/social-it-multichannel-support

It is, however, apparent that it’s early days and there is not much guidance around.  I thought I’d pen a few thoughts based on the workshops and see what you all think. Mature services businesses have been using multiple channels for many years.  For example, the banks provide several channels to trade equities and move money around.  Similarly, retailers have online, physical and mobile channels.  So how might IT take advantage of these ideas?

Firstly I must admit that when I first considered the application of this to IT, I had a “moment”.  Wouldn’t social and mobile channels for IT simply add to a the deluge of support requirements – more “stuff to manage”?  Maybe this thought stalls a lot of us who put the now conventional “Single Point of Contact” service desks in place through the 1990s to early 2000s.

My emerging view, based on the successful models in business and Service Design thinking, is that we need to deliberately design a multi-channel model for IT.  We’ve already commenced this journey through the introduction of Self Service portals and email channels.  What we need to do now is introduce the concept of Service Experience Design to support the profiles and preference of our business users.  We need to apply some management discipline to ensuring that we have the right mix of resources and skills that match the desired in fact required services our business users need. To deliver the right Service/Value proposition we need to design with the following in mind:

  1. Users work context, channel preferences and skill levels
  2. Business model & business operational attributes
  3. Service Vs cost tensions in the organisation and the overall “service posture” of the business
  4. Service Portfolio attributes and levels of skill required for each service
  5. Sourcing Model and the attributes of each provider including those in the “build”
  6. Device profiles that the users use to consume IT whether or not there is a BYOD policy

The multi-channel model below is a high level view of the interactions between business users and IT and how the various interactions might best be channelled. With the right design effort we can provide a new approach that benefits IT by “left shifting” the simple stuff towards automated knowledge management solutions.  And we can ensure that IT fully engages the business users with the right skills in those interactions that require the human touch.

MultiChannel Support Model

To make all of the above work I suggest that organisations should draw upon:

Very interested in your thoughts as always.  Please comment below or email us on info@valueflowit.com.au

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