DevOps is like Climate Change

goats

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

Time to “fess up” about ServiceNow or “Why I fell for a tool!”

SNOW

OK, so most of you got to know me via my consulting and leadership roles at Pink Elephant (the Dutch one ’98 to ‘01) and Lucid IT. Both organisations were clearly independent of the ITSM tool vendors. There was a simple but strategic reason for this:

As a trusted advisor and educator in the emerging ITIL/ITSM market
you couldn’t be an advocate for ITIL and specific tool vendors

But then… ITIL…. slowly…. commoditised over 10 or so years. There’s no need to be so precious about it anymore. The real question is how to best deliver capability that drives service value for the business.

And while on the topic of value, I’d like to point out a fundamental disconnect between the consulting process used by most ITSM process consultants and delivering business value from investments in ITSM.

When you separate the process design from the
tool implementation ……. you leave a lot of gaps

The gaps are as simple as “the tool can’t do that” or “that process design is not practical or is too expensive to build” or “we can’t capture & report those metrics”.  Sound familiar?

Often the consultant has already gone on to their next ITIL maturity assessment and is blissfully ignorant of the “value leakage” that occurred (get your buzzword bingo cards out). The tool integrator then has to do a “best” fit approach that often works best for them. The goals and business case for ITSM are subsequently squandered and we are stuck with the old world of Incident-Problem-Change according to <insert vendor here>.

Unfortunately, this is amplified by many consultants’ and IT managers’ mental-models (sic) based on the heady days of Business Process Re-engineering when we were taught by Hammer and Champy (among others):

“First Process design then tool/automation requirements”

In 2014, I find that a bit old hat (in fact I’ve found it silly for a long time…it leaves waterfall as the only option). This is the sort of thinking that led to the huge overruns in SAP projects in the late ‘90s (I appreciate there were a lot of other factors). Stakeholders need to know what the tools can do out of the box before you lock in the process design, otherwise bring on the customisations, lifecycle costs, yada yada….

Bottom line: The tools and processes are joined-at-the-hip and
should be part of an overall IT Operating Model design
(See http://valueflowit.com.au/who-needs-an-it-operating-model/)

For example; many modern IT tools incorporate chat, live feed, remote access and some even have visualizations that enable Kanban and scrum. Your ITSM consultant may still be working from the ITIL V3 concepts from 2007 and will not guide you to the improved customer experience, IT user experience and efficiencies available on new Cloud based platforms.

Having worked on the IT Operating model concept with customers for a while, I don’t believe that you can achieve the outcomes the business needs without a high level of automation.  Improvement needs to be driven by:

  1. Visualization of process and visibility of team performance to drive behaviour
  2. Correlation between the process design and service performance to drive capability improvement

You can’t do all this with pencil and paper, especially in a digital, hybrid-cloud and increasingly multi-sourced technology world.   IT has been constrained by the upgrade cycles and costs of monolithic traditional vendors.  This cannot be how we manage our IT capabilities of the future.

Perhaps most importantly, the processes don’t stick if they are not embedded and enabled by a tool that people work in every day – we can’t just be dusting off the docco when the consultants or auditors are coming! (In my experience many don’t even dust it off, especially if there’s been staff turnover )

Automation is central to developing IT capability
in line with the pace of change in the IT ecosystem

This is underscored in the recently developed IT4IT Reference Architecture and ValueChain models. The IT4IT consortium has developed an approach for articulating the IT Operating Model and how the various information artifacts should traverse the lifecycle. This is a fantastic frame of reference for IT capabilities and the way tools work together across the lifecycle and the Value Streams therein. https://collaboration.opengroup.org/it4it/ If you have Open Group Membership you can explore the documents (if not, the enterprising among you will find the dcco somewhere I’m sure.  It is in the public domain ;-])

So why ServiceNow in particular?

ValueFlow IT was given the opportunity to configure and implement ServiceNow for Staples (Australia & New Zealand). During the project I was introduced to the ServiceNow SaaS platform, the ITSM capabilities and most importantly, the Project Management (PPM) and Governance (GRC) capabilities that allow build out of a full operating model. I was suitably impressed and trotted off to meet ServiceNow for a chat about partnership!

Since then, ServiceNow have added Demand Management and Vendor Management capabilities among many other innovations.  There’s more Technology Business Management (TBM) coming in the Fuji release. (see the ServiceNow CEO Frank Slootman Knowledge14 video from minute 25 onwards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhcfoxolHwg )

Did I mention the DevOps, Orchestration, SDLC (agile and waterfall versions) and App development functionality also in the current Eureka release?  The recent acquisition of Neebula www.neebula.com is also strategic in bringing together the “single pane of glass” view we’ve been talking about for a long time.

SNOW

I guess my point is emerging …. finally you say ;-]

In my 16 years of IT Management consulting, I’ve not come across a platform that is such a high value enabler for the whole IT lifecycle and governance model. Some vendors have made that promise but haven’t come close to delivering.  Perhaps that’s why ServiceNow has moved past their historical ITSM rivals according to most recent research analyst reports.  Interestingly, those reports tend to focus on the ITSM functionality and miss the value of ServiceNow as a highly capable PaaS.  There is much more value than meets the eye…

With each release, ServiceNow comes closer to delivering the full capability required to automate the modern IT Operating Model. Of course we still need great people running the ship but we need a lot fewer pulling on the oars. This automation capability is potentially transformative for the IT function and the value it can deliver. ServiceNow’s Fred Luddy and team have a bit of a “build it and they will come approach” (good on them I say!) ] That’s often a challenge for technology visionaries.  They might find that it takes some leadership from partners and forward thinking customers to extract full value for both the client and ServiceNow as a business.  Working on that ;-]

From a selfish perspective, the ValueFlow IT team gets to do what we’ve been trying to do for our clients in various forms for many years; deliver change that is valued by both business and IT.  We get to see the fruits of our collaboration with our clients and can help them raise the bar on performance rather than the dreaded process maturity scales.  We’re also now developing non-IT apps.  The clients asked us to and we’re finding it a lot of fun!  Business processes are no more complex than IT in most cases.

There’s still a lot of work to do in the 9 dimensions of the IT Operating Model (as shown below) if you want to create a full system of IT capability. With ServiceNow as the enabling platform, the automation becomes eminently possible rather than a roadblock. You can then focus your precious discretionary efforts on Capability and spend a lot less time on documents.

Op Model

If I’m sounding like a fan, there’s a good reason for it. Now if only we could get a few more clients that aspire to do more than Incident – Problem – Change… C’mon, go for the IT Operating Model!

That’s better.  Confession made, let’s turn IT on ;-]

PowerOn

 

 

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

IT Operations Only Does 4 Things.


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What is it that IT does? What if I said that IT Operations does only 4 things, well more accurately, 4 types of work? And by understanding the types, their relative importance and how work flows through the organisation you will be better equipped to improve the delivery of projects, manage outages and compliance, and limit work-in-progress. I recently encountered this idea while reading the book “The Phoenix Project” and I must admit the concept has really sparked my interest.

So what are they? No, one of them is not email.

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Service Management as a Lifestyle.

New Year’s Resolutions.  Sometimes you achieve them, other times not, some years you don’t make any.  The ideas can be many-fold, but to make change stick, it must be habitual; you must live it.  Lifestyle begets Goal.

For example.  I’m incubating the idea of a return to karate to prepare for my second Dan ranking – a significant goal.  My lifestyle will need to adjust: making sacrifices to free up time, re-visiting diet, channelling energy to ensure my family relationships and work outputs actually get better – not suffer – as a result (inspired by Antifragile).  And to further the challenge; do I quit the lifestyle once my goal has been achieved, or is this goal just a signpost to the next?

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What Inspires Us?

If you are in business and not talking Lean, you are probably getting left behind.

How do you work without an office? The trick is to find the right approach.

This fictional tale applies constraints theory to the modern IT challenges