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True agile software development requires DevOps

Clint Boulton | Nov. 16, 2016
Fannie Mae has doubled its software output in the last 18 months thanks to agile software development and DevOps, which enables continuous integration and application deployment.

Fannie Mae is seeing productivity gains ranging from 28 percent to 40 percent at nearly a third of the cost, Veron estimates. The software is also rolling out at 12 times the speed of pre-DevOps deployments and at a 30 percent to 48 percent improvement in quality. In the past 18 months, the company has more than doubled its number of software releases, Veron says.

How DevOps mitigates risk

Based on those statistics you'd be tempted to think that speed is the biggest impact DevOps has had on Fannie Mae. But Veron says Fannie Mae also mitigates the risk of software failure. By continuously tweaking and deploying software, Fannie Mae can find out what products or feature sets test well with mortgage brokers, homeowners and other parties.

DevOps enables it to quickly walk back buggy code or ineffective products for revision; sometimes Veron's team can push out fixes overnight. “You get a better product because it’s better aligned with requirements and you get the value you expect from the software faster,” Veron says.

Veron says Fannie Mae's move to agile has been a decade-long process, with some product groups embracing it earlier than others. But he's also noted something of a sea change. Initially, IT pushed agile and DevOps at the product managers, pitching it as a way to solve some of their delivery challenges. But once the business lines saw the nimble nature with which their peer groups were getting software to market, they came to IT with fresh demands. "In 2016 we turned the corner and the business is pulling us more than ever before," Veron says. And that's just fine with Veron.

"What is important is the connection between IT and the business," Veron says. "I feel that at Fannie Mae it is here to stay because the value is really visible, people are embracing it and we're making tremendous progress."


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