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DevOps - Development/Operations

OK so you’ve cracked Agile and want to move on to the next step….DevOps. Seems logical, why speed up delivering business value to have it stuck in the treacle of ITSM?  When starting to look into DevOps, all the material I have seen looks at this opportunity from the perspective of the Development function and/or is little more than general advice about managing change. There is surprisingly little information on the impact on Operations, (Service Delivery as they are more generally known).

The first point to make is they and their ITSM processes are running the IT systems that keep the business going today. You wouldn’t want to throw that away in the process of moving to a better new world. So moving forward they are going to have manage two ‘operational’ environments, it’s probably best to accept that at the start and give them exactly that.

The impact on Service Delivery is huge. The first challenge for them in the new ‘DevOps’ world is the scope of change control. Who can change what, when, with who’s approval, and what notice? A free for all with the potential for everything being changed at once does not seem a good idea , (applications are not the only thing that get changed in the operational environment). Equally an Agile DevOps project implementing an essential business function does not want to wait for a change window sometime in the New Year.

The next challenge is the fact that the two functions have at best been at arm’s length, and commonly openly at war, with little understanding of each other’s perspective. So just ‘involving’ Service Delivery in your DevOps project is not going to work, chances are, they won’t have a clue what’s going on and what you expect from them. Similarly, in a DevOps project it is the development team that are responsible not only for the application but also the ongoing quality of service to the business user. For most developers, service quality has historically been someone else’s responsibility and is an alien concept, so you need to make them care/think about it.

So what to do about the opportunity that DevOps offers?  The case for at least ‘some’ DevOps seems to be conclusive but all the pressure is coming from Development, Operations functions are pretty silent about the benefits. Four things to check before launching into your first DevOps project:

  • Does the sponsor have both functions reporting to them?
  • Have you recognised that Service Delivery need to protect the current operation, it runs the business, and have you given them the resource to do so?
  • Is there anyone in the Development function with a Service Delivery background and/or the reverse? If so get them involved in the project. If not swap two of the best people between the functions, and then wait six months before you start.
  • Understand that this is a ‘hearts and minds’ project as much as a test of the technology and approach. Treat it as such and at least set up a steering group which includes senior representatives of all interested parties.

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