64% of organisations will be using DevOps by the end of this year, according to research from Gartner.
And it’s easy to understand why, given the potential of DevOps to vastly increase the frequency and speed of code deployments, while significantly reducing the change failure rate. Any organisation looking to scale its processes and systems – while safeguarding security and enhancing quality – needs to be planning some form of DevOps adoption.
All of which is making DevOps a key focus for the IT community, and encouraged our guests – senior representatives of a range of well-known financial services organisations – to pay no heed to the inclemency of the weather in order to participate in our DevOps Breakfast Briefing, held in conjunction with Peru Consulting on 11 October at the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall.
Following a welcome from Ian Robinson, Peru Consulting’s Principal Consultant, the scene was set by IndigoBlue’s Head of Public Sector, John Wright.
John explained that the importance of optimising IT infrastructure had long been appreciated. However, it was the emergence of cloud and the consequent increase in consumer demand for continuous product improvement that had thrown its importance into sharp relief. To be responsive to business and consumer needs, IT organisations needed to become capable of faster release cycles – even within legacy environments – while remaining committed to quality and security. A DevOps approach was needed, and this required an evolution in skill sets, culture and ways of working.
IndigoBlue’s leading DevOps expert, Brett Delle Grazie, then took the floor and started by describing the traditional perceptions of Development, Operations and Architecture, with silo working causing chronic delays and inefficiencies. Drawing on his work in supporting DevOps transformations at the Metropolitan Police and the Ministry of Justice, Brett set out the DevOps approach – one in which software engineering principles are applied both to software development and IT infrastructure, in which automation plays a central role, and in which specialist representatives of Operations and Security are embedded in Development teams.
Key to the approach was to “shift things to the left”, i.e. to deploy to production as early as possible, giving early visibility to the Compliance, Security and Architecture teams and ensuring that their integrations worked from the outset. In this way, DevOps acted as the “grease in the wheels”, helping to promote trust, communication and collaboration between the different disciplines.
Allied Irish Bank’s Technology and Business Change Director, Paul Kenny, led the guests along the steps of AIB’s journey towards Agile and DevOps maturity. Like all retail banks, AIB has found itself in recent years challenged by nimble and innovative non-bank companies that use the banking infrastructure to provide targeted value-added offerings.
In responding to this challenge, AIB has embarked on a three-year change programme to grow its Agile and DevOps capability to achieve the responsiveness it requires to meet and exceed its customers’ expectations. Following a year of ensuring that everyone is “brilliant at the basics”, AIB will continue to cultivate closer collaboration in the year ahead before fostering high performing teams in the third year and working towards DevOps maturity.
The discussion was thrown open to the floor and – no doubt fuelled by an excellent full English breakfast – a lively exchange of experiences and insights ensued.
Our guests had encountered a variety of blockers in driving forward the DevOps approach at their businesses – legacy environments, vendor capability issues, and traditional approaches to governance and compliance impeding the delivery pipeline, among others.
However, what was encouraging to hear was all of the enablers which guests had already employed to make real progress at their businesses. Very often, the solution was to bust myths with real evidence: proving that releasing smaller batches reduces risk and makes bugs easier to identify and solve; showing that deploying as early as possible increases transparency across the board; and demonstrating how DevOps enhances rather than impedes governance and control through its emphasis on automation and on standardising approaches, policies and tools.