Changing customer behavior and market dynamics mean that business agility is now more important than ever. To gain an edge over competition, providing the right response at the right time is important.
The demand for flexibility and agility is not only from external stakeholders, but increasingly from the employees as well. With the influx of the 'Millennials' into the work stream, employee expectations are changing fast. The need to stay connected added to the always-on mobile devices mean that employees today are looking for flexible ways to work.
So how can this level of agility be accomplished? For an enterprise to be agile, many components have to become agile as well, and IT is one of them. In addition to the traditional dependencies, IT must also keep pace with business trends, and, to a large extent, drive the business to leverage market opportunities, and overcome threats. In other words, to align to the business, IT has to inject agility and flexibility, either at the architectural level, or within development, deployment, or usage.
Traditionally, in an enterprise, the IT organization was viewed as a cost center, to support businesses and business processes. The key demands on enterprise IT were robustness, high availability, and cost efficiency. IT strategies were never drawn alongside business strategies and forced to align with business priorities. IT, as a result, trailed business demands.
However, this has to change, and IT must be able to provide business with that leading edge. Cloud computing, BPM, SOA — various methodologies and new technologies are supposed to help increase IT agility. And I must admit that it is not easy for IT to quickly respond to the enterprise's demand for agility. For one, IT is handcuffed by legacy environments that represent heavy investments. Traditional ERP systems demand high costs of upgrade and maintenance. Siloed systems further prevent cross-leveraging, innovation, and exchange of ideas.
In addition, there is a mismatch between the development team and the operations team. While developers are driven by the urge to deliver new features, the operations team, through their process driven approach, is focused on the more traditional aspects of availability, robustness, and cost efficiency. These differing sets of priorities often lead to longer project timelines, thereby reducing the ability of IT to deliver business value, and ultimately impacting business agility.
DevOps can help bridge this gap. By bringing development and operations staff together to manage an end-to-end view of the software development life cycle, DevOps is a step towards bridging the development and operations divide. Barriers are broken by enabling trust, shared ownership, building a culture of innovation, and encouraging collaboration across teams.
The move to the DevOps paradigm will not be easy. But, by putting a change management program in place and incentivizing collaborative mindsets, DevOps can not only benefit the IT organization, but also the business organization by delivering agility.