The Value of DevOps

Podcast DevOps

HOST: Lisette Diamant, Digital Brand Manager 

GUESTS: Richard Stanley, Digital Enterprise Architect; Dave Stewart, Transformation Coach 

DESCRIPTION: Richard and Dave guide a conversation on DevOps practices, and how they integrate into your greater enterprise transformation. They talk through the basic principles, as well as the benefits and value that DevOps can bring.  

Lisette Diamant  00:00 

Welcome to Digital Reimagined, a podcast packed with insights from Apex Systems, a world class technology services leader working to reimagine value for our clients. We'll bring you the voices of industry experts to showcase our proven solutions that span across digital innovation, modern enterprise and workforce mobilization. 

 

Lisette Diamant  00:25 

On today's episode of Digital Reimagined, I have two guests here with me in our virtual podcast recording studio, who are passionate about the work that they do in DevOps. Welcome here Richard Stanley, Digital Enterprise Architect here at Apex Systems.  

 

Richard Stanley  00:41 

Morning. Happy to be here. Thank you so much.  

 

Lisette Diamant  00:43 

And welcome Transformation Coach, Dave Stewart! 

 

Dave Stewart  00:46 

Happy to be here as well! 

 

Lisette Diamant  00:48 

Wonderful. So to start our listeners off with a foundation, what is the definition of DevOps?  

 

Richard Stanley  00:54 

Well I would say the recorded definition is, it's a set of practices that combines software development and IT operations with an aim to shorten the systems development lifecycle and provide continuous delivery and high software quality. Well, I like to maybe change that a little bit and say that for me, it's any process, cultural change,  or tool, which removes impediments between development and operations with the result of increasing velocity and or quality.  

 

Lisette Diamant  01:22 

Hmm, and Dave in your practicality of the work as a coach, where have you found DevOps to weave into your work?  

 

Dave Stewart  01:29 

Sure. So I work a lot with Agile teams who help refine the process, so they're actually getting to the meat of the work and getting it out there quickly, closing feedback loops. The one thing that I see is DevOps is really integral to this, because it's what enables these teams to work in these modern ways.  

 

Lisette Diamant  01:45 

And now building on a bit further, Richard, I'd love for you to talk about the key components and build on some of the key concepts of DevOps.  

 

Richard Stanley  01:53 

Well, generally speaking, when you're trying to put together a successful DevOps practice, it does end up being a combination of three things. One being tools, and everybody tends to jump forward with that. The second one being a cultural change of the company, understanding what the benefits are of it. Just like Agile, people have a tendency to have their preconceived notions about success in that arena. So really having an open dialogue and having upper management understand and support the concepts behind it is very important. And the last one is training. And typically, that's another one that gets fallen behind the wayside, is this notion that once you say, "we're going to do DevOps so we've bought these tools", people individually and on a larger scale have a tendency to say to themselves, "well, why aren't we getting the value that we wanted?" Because there wasn't a lot of preparation that goes into it. So I would say, for me, definitely those three pillars. What about you, Dave?  

 

Dave Stewart  02:43 

Yeah, so I would say that a lot of times, we tend to focus on the tools. But a big part of what DevOps does for companies and really enables them is that shifting left of the ownership of some of these tools and processes, it's very much about culture. And you can get tremendous benefits out of it by sharing the ideas and those concepts across the whole enterprise.  

 

Lisette Diamant  03:05 

So I'd love to talk a little bit about how DevOps is best integrated. So whether you're starting with a new strategy, or finding a way to reimagine or re-engineer your DevOps strategy.  

 

Dave Stewart  03:17 

One of the things that I think is really fundamental, when you're looking at re-engineering DevOps strategy is trying to break down the silo. That somehow there's two sides of the house, right? There's your engineering side, and then there's this infrastructure side, and there's this firewall between them, I think you need to take that down. Because you also have to sell the fact that a lot of these DevOps things actually are value added services to the organization, and the business side needs to understand that as well. So you have to break down the silo and say, "this is not just a purely a tech play", right? It's not just about getting things faster or better, right? There's actually a lot of value here that enables you to be more competitive. And ultimately, at the end of the day, what is all this about? It's about being more competitive in the marketplace and being able to adapt faster. So take down those silos, right? Make DevOps something that is across the organization.  

 

Richard Stanley  04:10 

And one of the things that we talk about too, and this is one of our key points when we keep returning to the idea of being prepared, of knowing what you're getting into, knowing what you're trying to achieve. Some of those may not be concepts that you know right away. They might be things that happen down the road. You won't know those benefits until you're in that space.  

 

Lisette Diamant  04:29 

Now, what are some things to consider with specific key benefits? You know, I think we've talked a bit about the concepts of DevOps, how to integrate. Now building on that, what are some benefits that you can look for and seek out?  

 

Dave Stewart  04:41 

Sure. So working closely with a lot of Agile teams, one of the things that I've seen is a faster turnaround to get things into production, right? So there's some real benefits there to speed. You know, there's QA, right. Better integration testing, and that reduction of communication overhead is a huge thing. Just that ease of making sure that a smooth development pipeline exists. That's a big, big thing. I've seen teams lose weeks of productivity, trying to move things from QA into production.  

 

Richard Stanley  05:09 

Well, that's one of the things I've heard you say before, right? Is that monitoring isn't just for production. It's an overall philosophy. It's the idea that if you know that you have secure concepts and secure tools in place that make sense to you, and they were planned out, then it's easier to pinpoint breakdown points that are in the development cycle and say, "Okay, we're going to start tracking this one particular issue or this one particular KPI that's new." And that can be anything from the development lifecycle itself within the team, within sprints, whether that's within your innovation center or whether that's within what's happening within production itself, obviously, right? So finding different ways to harness all of the capabilities of your own data after it's consistently able to be collected, and understanding it and evolving that feeds the innovation process, feeds the proper capability for you to effect positivity. If you can't find concepts where you can markedly say, "we've tracked how we did things before, we tracked how we did things now, and it has created value." Without creating value, we're just creating process. And process should not exist without value. 

 

Dave Stewart  06:16 

Exactly. I think one of the things that I think about with you mentioning value there is our whole approach to testing, right? Value is found between good product design and technical execution, right? Testing is a huge part of DevOps, that integration testing. And software application is becoming more and more complex. We're relying more and more on platforms, we're relying more on API's that are built somewhere else in your organization being consumed. Hey, how should we approach testing? How should we automate testing so it reduces the overhead on developers, right? So they're not building hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of test cases? Right? You know, is there something they missed? DevOps really helps with that, when you look at how you test and build value in your product as well.  

 

Richard Stanley  07:00 

And it's interesting to mention, if you think about the concept of what DevOps is trying to accomplish, testing comes up a lot. And I think it's worth saying that there's its own conversation, and that there's things that are integrated and interwoven. But DevOps has started to, from an automation perspective, expand itself. So now more than DevOps, we've got AIOps, and ArcOps and TestOps, and DataOps, and WebOps, and DevSecOps. And so I do have a tendency to really like to talk through what the targets are for testing a little bit separate from DevOps. Which isn't to say that they don't work together. They do, and one enables the other. But I'd be curious, Dave, when you think about DevOps and how you plan for testing, how do you see classical DevOps in that scenario be different from how someone might use testing without it, in the modern day? 

 

Dave Stewart  07:51 

When I think classical DevOps, the idea was, developers don't have to worry about infrastructure, it just works. That is not true. You know, developers, they're the frontline defense of service and maintenance. So giving them the ability to monitor, the ability to spin up an environment real quickly. We have to get those shifted into the development side of things. It's about giving them the power to help shape what we're going to be doing in the future, right? You have to have a dialogue between people who are helping facilitate the capabilities of the team and the development team itself, right?  

 

Lisette Diamant  08:24 

Some great points! Richard, this has been so wonderful having you here, leaving all of our listeners wanting a little more about this rich discussion. What's your final thought?  

 

Richard Stanley  08:35 

I would say, just make sure you define value for yourself and your organization. Know what that means. And know that there's a lot of ways out there to get at that value. Keep an open mind and be able to track it. That's the most important thing.  

 

Lisette Diamant  08:50 

Absolutely. And Dave, how about you?  

 

Dave Stewart  08:53 

So I'm constantly in the transformation space. A lot of times that is involved with like, "Hey, do you understand your customer? Are you building a customer centric organization?" DevOps has to be part of that conversation. It's really the capability building. It's not just talking about technological capabilities, but that DevOps culture permeates through everything. You're breaking down silos in communication. It's really valuable. Don't leave that out of your conversations when you're talking about what you need to do to transform.  

 

Lisette Diamant  09:19 

Wonderful. Thank you both for coming in today, and sharing all of your thought leadership with everyone. 

 

Lisette Diamant  09:28 

Please be sure to subscribe to Digital Reimagined, wherever you listen to podcasts. We'll be sharing out a new episode every Monday. To learn more about Apex Systems' offerings, visit us at apexsystems.com/insights. You'll find our podcast here, along with success stories, articles, news, and trends. Digital Reimagined is a podcast brought to you by Apex Systems, produced by Taylor Hawkins. The music you heard was Do Ba Do by Otis Galloway.