You have undoubtedly been reading about the DevOps phenomenon, but do you appreciate how DevOps can impact your business? As we adopt new networking strategies such as virtualization and software-defined networking, solution providers are being challenged to move further from installing off-the-shelf enterprise software. It’s no longer a matter of adopting someone else’s code; IT departments are writing their own code in tandem with operations.
The good news is that DevOps shortens the sales cycle and increases demand for more IT technology. The bad news is that it requires solution providers to bring more coding expertise to the table.
DevOps is a new term that represents the latest approach to network operations, bringing together agile software development with agile systems operations. This new collaboration between development and operations is creating new, more resilient systems that are evolving faster than ever before. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2016, DevOps will mature from a niche concept to a mainstream approach that will be adopted by 25 percent of Global 2000 companies:
“Gartner believes that rather than being a market per se, DevOps is a philosophy, a cultural shift that merges operations with development and demands a linked toolchain of technologies to facilitate collaborative change. Gartner views DevOps as a virtual (and likely temporal) market and has focused the scope of the definition on tools that support DevOps and practices associated with it in the context of continuous delivery, continuous improvement, infrastructure and configuration as code, and so on. Gartner categorizes these tools as DevOps-ready, -enabled and -capable tools.”
In order to stay ahead of the game, solution providers have to become part of the DevOps movement to support this new mashup of software development and systems operations, both by supporting DevOps tools and the DevOps infrastructure.
A New Approach to IT Projects
DevOps has emerged in order to meet the need for speed in today’s IT environment. The old methodologies for implementing an IT development project called for a project plan, definition document, testing, reviews, etc. It typically would take up to 18 months to complete a project. Today’s business doesn’t have the luxury of that kind of time, which is why agile software strategies are ideally suited to IT operations. With DevOps, a project takes weeks rather than months.
DevOps also allows development and operations teams to work together to create faster implementations. Developers test new applications as they go in a working operations environment, making adjustments to shorten time to completion. It’s a much more efficient strategy than the old “build and hope it doesn’t break” approach.
This type of collaboration breaks down the old silos of software development and operations. Now they are working together, which means that they are using automated, collaborative tools in order to move a development project through testing and into runtime. Projects are implemented in smaller segments in a much shorter timeframe.
DevOps collaboration also drives the need for more cloud-based apps and services. Moving from monolithic applications development to smaller code segments means reusing code and data sets. Testing is carried out using parallel implementations in the runtime environment using virtualization. Copies of databases can be set up to run against virtual machines in order to test DevOps code and then tested against network loads in order to assess performance. Once testing is complete, the application is easily switched over to the live database. The cloud is ideal for storing data sets, testing and deployment.
New Opportunities for Solution Providers
So how can you take advantage of the DevOps movement? There are various strategies:
Provide the DevOps infrastructure – The DevOps development environment requires more cloud services, virtualization, data storage, mirroring and other elements. Work with the DevOps team in order to get a better understanding of what the team needs and provide the necessary development and testing infrastructure. Broker the appropriate cloud services and assist with virtualization and other support strategies.
Offer DevOps toolsets – Many of the DevOps toolkits are open-source, but there are quite a few that are offered by specific vendors. Successful DevOps needs revision control tools, monitoring tools, testing tools, etc. No one set of tools is typically enough to do the job. Value-added services can include providing and supporting DevOps toolkits, brokering cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and providing the additional tools needed to make those services more productive.
Offer DevOps support – If you have the right expertise, you can offer DevOps consulting and coding services. If you are offering hosting services, for example, chances are that you already have a lot of infrastructure expertise. As with any new technology, there is a shortage of expertise, so bringing your own development and infrastructure consulting services can help fill the gap for customers that need help with their own DevOps programs.
Provide SDN support – DevOps and software-defined networking (SDN) go hand in hand and need to work tougher. Where DevOps promotes collaboration between developers and operations, SDN centralizes management and network provisioning using software control over the network infrastructure. Central control provides the means to analyze network applications and operations through a single lens, which is also goal of DevOps. SDN could be considered the ultimate DevOps toolset.
DevOps will continue to gain momentum, and solution providers who take the time to understand its impact will see new ways to profit from the DevOps revolutions. It’s all a matter of working with customers in order to identify their needs and offering the right value-added services to help them make the most of DevOps.