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Guest View: Understanding DevOps (Part 1): Empowering Asian CIOs by taking the pain out of application development and delivery

Sumal Karunanayake | Feb. 4, 2014
In this first of a two-part article, CA Technologies Asia Pacific & Japan VP, Sumal Karunanayake uses the Malaysian scenario to discuss the concept of DevOps and how it can help IT organisations deliver higher quality applications at a faster pace without having to spend more money.

Sumal Karunayake - CA 

Photo - Sumal Karunanayake, Vice President, Application Delivery, Asia Pacific and Japan, CA Technologies

 

There is no denying that mobile devices are at the center of how we live and work today. According to IT analyst firm Gartner, consumers worldwide are expected to purchase more than 1.2 billion smartphones and tablets in 2013.

For example, in Malaysia, this smartphone purchase trend proves to have grown at an even faster speed. According to the Citrix Workplace of the Future report released in 2012, Malaysia is ahead of its global counterparts in the number of devices used in the workplace, with an average of six devices per person, higher than the average of 4.43 devices globally and 4.39 devices in Asia Pacific.

As a result, mobile apps stemming from the pervasive adoption of mobile devices have become an important conduit for global organisations and even small and medium-sized businesses in interacting with their internal and external customers.

This mobility megatrend is placing increasing pressure on IT organisations to push out higher quality applications at a faster pace than ever before. A survey conducted by Symantec earlier this year revealed that Malaysian enterprises are leaning more towards embracing mobility in the workplace but the motivations for doing are as divergent as night from day. Within the banking and finance and telecommunications sectors, for example, a delay in delivering applications, or sacrificing on quality for speed, can make a significant difference between high customer churn and increased Average Revenue per User (ARPU).

In addition to this, the proliferation of Cloud and the increasing role of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) in the supply chain of enterprise application development contributes significantly to the changing role of the CIO.

The CIO is now performing the role of a "broker" of technology services to the business. As a result, most CIOs are under increasing pressure from the business to provide applications which are more robust and address customer experience requirements, in a faster and more cost effective way.

 Single biggest challenge

The single biggest challenge a CIO faces in delivering on this charter is converging the traditionally demarcated lines between Development and Operations. The recently announced "State of Mobility Survey" revealed that 65 percent of Malaysian organisations surveyed said that they are motivated to pursue mobility because of business drivers which include shoring up revenue, increasing profitability, and boosting productivity while reducing the cost of operations.

This zone of demarcation is quite often what contributes to defects, slowness in app delivery, misalignment in business requirements and ultimately, costs associated with running an efficient Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC).

To this end, the concept of DevOps (tighter collaboration between Development and Operations) and practices around this will go towards achieving the goals of the CIO. Although the movement of DevOps is a relatively nascent one, enterprises in Asia are rapidly embracing and hedging a lot of its application development strategies around it. Countries such as Australia, India, Korea and China are more aggressively adopting the principles of DevOps - fundamentally due to the technology-centric cultures and markets.

In Malaysia however it is a relatively new concept but it is one that is picking up momentum. Its value is definitely seen though few properly understand its true potential.

So how does DevOps translate to operational outcomes? This is not a simple "plug and play" approach. As with most process oriented concepts, it comes down to a mixture of qualitative and quantitative initiatives.

Specific to DevOps, there needs to be strong leadership espousing the value and benefits (not just IT, but also from the CEO down), and cultural programs which leverage the communication channels such as social media, internal events, cross functional join ups, social gatherings etc. In addition to these qualitative elements, there also needs to be a heightened focus on automation within the SDLC (from a technology perspective), and collaboration from the planning phase within a typical SDLC. So now, instead of development meeting with the business to determine requirements, the requirements gathering phase will also involve operations as well.

As with most doctrines of this kind, the success of this is fundamentally transformational to a business. However, gauging success and putting in place a plan or strategy to achieve success are entirely different challenges. The initial findings from markets who have been early adopters of this approach, are encouraging and certainly validate the hypothesis that DevOps will be a transformational play.

In my interaction with CIOs daily in this region, they are increasingly identifying DevOps as one of their top IT priorities this year. DevOps presents a win-win-win proposition-for application developers, IT operations, and your organisation's business. As disruptive trends continue to pile pressure on organisations to deliver everything faster, better, and more cost effectively - adopting DevOps will likely become a necessity, and not a nice to have.

In the next part to this article, we will discuss some of the best practices in implementing a DevOps strategy as it relates to SDLC and some of the pitfalls based on our experience to avoid.

In Part 2 of this article, I'll introduce five best practices that every organisation should consider when exploring the deployment of DevOps.

- Sumal Karunanayake is Vice President, Application Delivery, Asia Pacific and Japan, at CA Technologies.

 

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