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Business and Technology Insights

DevOps – key to survival in an always-on connected world?

 
August 30, 2016

Customers want it all – the latest features, ease of use across platforms, and everything working 24×7. In an always-on digital world, even a one-second increase in application response time is reason enough for users to abandon or switch apps. To stay and succeed in business, companies must adapt and accept this reality, by responding to changing customer demands and competitive pressures.

Let's analyze some not so distant instances. Just a few years back, in June 2012, Blackberry had a peak global user base of 80 million. In less than 18 months, by September 2014, its user base was reduced to 46 million. According to experts, this fall is attributed to the company's inability to anticipate emergence of the app economy, and the resulting large scale adoption of iPhone and Android devices. A company that once led the mobile revolution couldn't keep pace with user demand for continuous feature improvements.

In the non-tech industry, Borders and The San Jose Mercury News are examples of companies that couldn't retain their market leadership, despite being dominant forces in their respective domains.

On the other hand, companies such as Netflix and Amazon have adopted DevOps, and tasted unprecedented successes. No wonder then that these instances of combining speed with quality are also excellent case studies on DevOps implementation. In both instances, DevOps enabled not just accelerated delivery, but also created new revenue streams and business models. In the always-on connected world, DevOps is clearly the key to survival, and the only way forward.

Understanding the need for a DevOps culture is only half the story. The other half – risks and challenges, is also important. This viewpoint is substantiated by TCS' DevOps research, ‘Winning in the Digital Marketplace: Assuring Software Quality in a Fast-Moving DevOps World’. The report shows how the smartest companies are adopting DevOps to retain their competitive edge. With interesting case studies and interviews, we list out DevOps challenges, particularly in deploying frequent top-quality feature and product updates, sometimes even multiple times per day. Our report also contains a set of questions that CIOs must ask before embarking on the DevOps journey.

However, many enterprises still view DevOps and Agile as the unicorn – that cannot be achieved in the day-to-day business world. Large businesses appreciate the need for continuous, high frequency, top quality production releases, and as a result, developers often rush to deliver new features using the latest technologies. But these businesses also have legacy systems, which were built within a complex ecosystem of internal, market, and regulatory forces. These legacy systems could pose risks and challenges to the accelerated releases deployed using these latest technologies. So what's the solution? Can DevOps co-exist with large, monolithic legacy infrastructure?

It sure can, but not in isolation. While ensuring continuous functionality, performance, and usability, DevOps releases must also be in line with the organization's long term vision, business goals, and market demands. This calls for establishing (or deep rooting) collaborative aspects of DevOps strongly into work ethos. In a DevOps world, built on Agile methodologies, all stakeholders – lines of business, development, quality assurance, and operations – must collaborate to deliver software. And we Quality Assurance (QA) professionals know too well that a collaborative work environment requires not only a shift in behavior, but a dramatic shift in the organizational culture as well.

The TCS DevOps report touches upon this aspect, through interviews of QA leaders from two companies Woolworths and Comcast. Richard Lewis of Woolworth's shares challenges and business benefits of – Woolworths DevOps journey. In the second interview, Anant Subramanian of Comcast discusses the organizational and cultural impact of DevOps on his company's QA function. For me personally, these interviews are some of the best sections of the report. For now, I'll leave you with a copy of the TCS DevOps research. In my next post, we'll discover the DevOps ecosystem, discuss success factors, bust a few myths, and explore a few best practices. Stay tuned.

Rekha Natarajan, a Delivery head for Telecom at TCS Assurance Services, has around 14 years of IT experience in Maintenance and QA delivery for Telecom service providers across different geographies. Her primary focus has been on QA and has delivered various types of testing projects successfully. She is passionate about creating an innovative work culture to promote added value to the customer.