It’s very unlikely that someone in the IT Industry hasn’t heard about the word DevOps, but even CTOs don’t know if this is a position, a diploma you get in college, or a new IT subarea; let’s talk a little bit about it to get some insight about this topic.
As the DevOpsGuys describe it, DevOps is an emerging model of product delivery and full lifecycle management that emphasizes a holistic, end-to-end process. They view it as the “engine room of change” that allows new ideas to be delivered quickly. DevOps not only seeks to remove the silos between Development and Operations, but all of the key stakeholders in the application lifecycle.
It involves small teams from software and operational disciplines working collaboratively with each other and the business community to deliver deployable applications that will run and scale reliably, maximizing payback. DevOps also involves introducing software automation tools to improve the speed, quality and reliability of the software deployment process.
“DevOps” as a term was first coined in 2009 by Patrick Debois, who became one of its chief proponents. Simply put, DevOps is a combination of software development and operations—and as its name suggests, it’s a melding of these two disciplines in order to emphasize communication, collaboration, and cohesion between the traditionally separate developer and IT operations teams.
In a DevOps environment, cross-functionality, shared responsibilities, and trust are all promoted. DevOps essentially extends the continuous development goals of the Agile movement to continuous integration and continuous delivery. In order to accommodate these continuous releases, DevOps encourages automation of the change, configuration, and deploy processes.
Is it possible for an organization with a DevOps culture to outsource IT?
When outsourcing, it’s always important to find a provider you’re comfortable with and that you trust to get the job done efficiently and effectively. In most cases, the client allows the third party to handle what it has been brought on to do. But with DevOps, things get a little trickier.
As said by Tony Bradley, Editor-in-Chief for TechSpective.net: Taken by itself, adopting DevOps doesn’t necessarily alter the pros and cons that typically affect an IT organization’s decision to outsource elements of its processes. The primary difference is that traditional IT outsourcing is typically driven by a focus on cutting or reducing costs. An organization looking to implement DevOps is typically seeking to gain business benefit, such as agility and reduced IT costs through improved productivity. In order for an organization to succeed at DevOps, though, the initiative must start with a culture shift. DevOps relies on breaking down traditional silos and removing the bureaucratic hurdles that bog things down. There are tools and practices that are part of DevOps as well, but a successful DevOps transition begins with changing the core mindset of how things get done and working more seamlessly and collaboratively. While accomplishing that internally is challenging enough, it’s even more difficult to extend such a culture outside of the organization with outsourcing.
There are several Pros and Cons of outsourcing DevOps, it is definitely challenging, but according to the experience of some experts in the area, it is not impossible, maybe even less than that.
Micron Hering, an analyst at Accenture, says it’s not necessary for every company to try and reinvent the wheel but adds it’s important to be careful about how your cultures mesh. “The con is obviously the need to align culture and incentives across two different organizations, which is an extra challenge. If you are OK to use a PaaS [platform as a service], then you can leverage the vendor to create your own PaaS and you don’t have to worry too much about the cultural aspects.”
Martin Croker, Hering’s colleague at Accenture, describes DevOps as a spectrum rather than a binary black-and-white solution. He suggests that organizations consider DevOps as an aspect of how IT services are delivered rather than a stand-alone IT function. Hering adds that hiring third-party providers to deliver DevOps capabilities can also be a catalyst for adopting DevOps internally through the consultancy and services provided.
So, according to the experts, this can be achieved by using a provider that also embraces DevOps as part of its functions, and precisely that should be included as one of the criteria when selecting an Outsourcing partner.
DevOps comprises a large suite of practices, many of which can add value in isolation. But in general, the more teams involved in the DevOps approach, the greater the beneficial impact to the business. In other words, the client can buy some of the benefits of DevOps through outsourcing without adopting DevOps internally, but it’s sort of like trying to race a car with the parking brake on.
“When an organization doesn’t embrace DevOps culture internally, this is inevitably going to reduce the benefits realized,” stresses Croker. “In such cases, where an organization hasn’t embraced DevOps, there is an increased probability that the focus will be exclusively on cost reduction rather than on a wider set of business benefits. In many cases, this focus is reflected in the nature of the outsourcing arrangements. A focus from an organization exclusively on supplier day rate will not aid implementation of DevOps.”
“When considering the benefits of IT service outsourcing, it’s important to align the outsourcing agreement and commercials to your organization’s DevOps objectives,” sums up Croker. “DevOps describes a culture shift in the way in which IT services are delivered and the ways in which teams interact to deliver those services. When an organization outsources IT services, unless carefully managed [with] partner objectives aligned, this can create an organizational divide which works against DevOps.”
Seriously, I could use this one.
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– Ernest Mueller, Aug 2, 2010 – Last Revised Dec 7, 2016. https://theagileadmin.com/what-is-devops/
– DevOps – development and operations. Webopedia. http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/D/devops_development_operations.html
– What is DevOps?. New Relic. https://newrelic.com/devops/what-is-devops
– What is DevOps?. DevOpsGuys. https://www.devopsguys.com/what-is-devops/
– The challenges of outsourcing in the age of DevOps. TeachBeacon. https://techbeacon.com/challenges-outsourcing-age-devops.