DevOps as the Minimum Entry Requirement

By Flux7 Labs
June 29, 2017

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Berry Christ, Chef CEO predicted at Chef Conference 2017 that Web and mobile will eventually become table stakes, the lowest bar to market entry. Taking his prediction one step further, we see a day where DevOps will be the minimum entry requirement needed to become and remain market competitive. That may sound aggressive given the fact that only 20% of businesses have adopted DevOps, according to research last October by Gartner. Yet, for organizations that have implemented DevOps, 66% saw faster realization of business value. And, according to McKinsey, firms with high performing IT organizations were twice as likely to exceed their profitability, market share, and productivity goals.

DevOps: no longer optional

Clearly, DevOps is driving productivity and efficiency gains that are quickly becoming mandatory. Without it, businesses lack the process improvements to transform IT and compete effectively. To this point, we increasingly hear businesses that have transformed with DevOps call themselves technology companies, regardless of the business they are in — retail, transportation, manufacturing, etc.

While there are a variety of challenges companies face in moving to DevOps, in working hands-on with more than 100 leading enterprise organizations to establish and sustain successful DevOps and IT modernization, we have found a seven step DevOps methodology that leads to a successful DevOps transformation. While you can read the steps in detail here, the process begins with defining where you want to go and choosing a pilot that will quickly illustrate the impact of DevOps in the organization.

The benefits of adopting DevOps as a foundation for IT transformation are numerous. Marc Holmes, VP Product & Revenue Marketing at Chef, pointed out several in his talk at ChefConf, in the form of high performing IT organizations as benchmarked by McKinsey. These organizations  were found to have:

  • 200x more frequent releases
  • 3x lower change failure rate
  • 24x faster at recovering from failures
  • 255x shorter lead times

Automation & DevOps  

Making it even more important to adopt DevOps as a competitive toehold is automation. High performers are adding automation to their DevOps foundation as a way to propel their productivity even further. Indeed, advanced tools and technologies that facilitate automation will become the real competitive differentiator as it is through these tools and processes that companies are able to facilitate true transformation.

While DevOps is clearly about process and automation is about technology, the two complement each other exceedingly well. Let’s take Infrastructure as Code as an example. In DevOps, service teams own not just code, but also things like configuration, infrastructure, and everything specific to the services they create. And automation in the form of solutions like Chef allow service teams to efficiently deploy and manage their environments in a safe, compliant and repeatable manner. By automating the process of building, managing and provisioning through code, teams speed the development and deployment process, eliminate human error and establish repeatability. Thus, this level of automation delivers efficiency and productivity gains that result in real business value through faster throughput and more frequent releases.  

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know that our DevOps consultants rely on AWS as a cloud platform of choice for our clients. As such, to bring this example home, let’s look at how we can pair Chef automation with AWS for advanced benefits like those listed above. Specifically, Chef allows IT to define, create and manage the technology stack within AWS. Using recipes (configuration elements) and cookbooks (a collection of recipes), users can manage and orchestrate an entire AWS stack – e.g. an application that rests on AWS VPC, EC2, ELB, S3, Aurora and more. Using Chef, organizations can migrate existing workloads to the cloud and standardize environments across the cloud, getting rid of snowflakes (different yet beautiful environments) that can cause security issues and extend problem resolution times. 

For example, one customer we’ve worked with, who spoke at Chef Conference 2017, wanted to use Chef in combination with AWS to migrate to the cloud, giving them the ability to move even faster, meeting (and beating) their customer demands for speed. At the same time, the company was instilling DevOps into the organization, giving developers direct access to infrastructure for the first time.

Flux7 consultants helped migrate this company’s automation platform from Chef to AWS Opswork for Chef Automate, helping it develop recipes and cookbooks for AWS automation. Moreover, Flux7 consultants taught this firm the ins and outs of AWS Opswork for Chef Automate as it relates to their environment, developing standard definitions, and mentoring the firm in best practices such as how to effectively manage cookbook versions across multiple environments.

At the end of the day, there is an increasingly blurry line between business and technology with technology becoming truly core to business success. Yet, successful organizations don’t do technology for the sake of technology alone, but rather in full pursuit of business objectives, helping the business align to its goals like a compass to true North. DevOps is an important step to achieving IT transformation that helps the business achieve its goals and when coupled with automation, it will be the difference between those transform and survive and those who transform and thrive.

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