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Despite the proven benefits of DevOps, many enterprise organizations are either still not adopting it or see it as a technical fix that simply increases efficiency, rather than contributing to achieving overall business objectives, such as around digital transformation.
So, how can technical teams translate what they are doing, particularly around database DevOps, into business value that is understood across the organization?
The Changing Face of Business
The start point has to be understanding the current landscape. Most large enterprises have grown to be successful on the back of achieving scale and embracing a long-term approach. Internally, they are built on complex hierarchies and when it comes to technology, they have a mixed estate containing many legacy systems. They are generally risk averse — think of them as supertankers that are difficult to turn or maneuver quickly. Not all of this is a bad thing; long term stable growth is the right way to build a business when you have shareholders, employees and customers relying on you.
In the past, these companies competed with mirror images of themselves, but the rise of fast-paced, disruptive, tech-based businesses that embrace experimentation and aren’t afraid to take risks has changed all of this. These digital disruptors are everywhere, whether you’re a bank faced with the explosion of fintech as a result of open banking, or a bricks and mortar high street retailer dealing with the threat of marketplaces and in-app purchases.
What this means is that, whatever the sector, enterprise organizations everywhere are fundamentally re-examining their business and operating models. So, in many ways this is a golden opportunity for DevOps — it can help drive the digital transformation that established companies are going through and ensure that they can deliver more of what customers want, faster and more efficiently.
However, getting true value from DevOps is about going beyond the technical improvements it provides, such as faster, more efficient releases, to look at company objectives and how DevOps can help to achieve them. While these are different in every organization, they are likely to involve changing the internal culture to become more collaborative, growing the business into new markets, and becoming more agile and flexible. Showing that DevOps is intrinsically part of achieving these goals will get the C-suite on side and smooth the path to wider adoption.
The Blockers to Delivering Value
Simply identifying your company’s growth strategy is not enough to guarantee DevOps success. To elevate the business case for DevOps, in order for it to be relevant to the C-Suite, you need to examine the direct and measurable impact it can have on key challenges that are impeding your IT organization’s ability to innovate faster and at scale.
That said, let's take a look at four common blockers which you may recognise and how DevOps can reduce the associated pressure points.
1. The changing face of the workforce
According to the Hays 2019 US Salary Guide, two thirds of IT employers said they face a moderate to extreme skills shortage. This is part of a wider business trend — talent is now more vital to competitiveness, and how (and where) people work is now changing fast. Hence the rise of distributed working and the gig economy. Good employees have a choice, so businesses need to appeal to them if they want to benefit from their skills.
DevOps helps overcome these challenges in two ways. Standardizing on DevOps processes across your entire IT infrastructure, including the database, means that teams can collaborate together successfully, wherever people are located, to deliver error-free code, fast. At the same time, DevOps offers the chance for your people to use great tools and to be involved in faster innovation. This is a key factor in attracting and retaining talent.
2. The customer is king
Whatever the industry, consumers now have unrivalled choice when it comes to products and services. They want the latest innovations, personalized to their needs, and they aren’t shy about moving to rivals if your business doesn’t continue to deliver. Much of this innovation is being underpinned by technology.
Therefore, DevOps is really at the heart of business (not just IT) competitiveness. Speeding up development improves the availability of services, while automating database deployments removes bottlenecks in software delivery. All of these contribute to putting the customer — and their needs — at the heart of the business.
3. The tech landscape is changing
How companies buy and use technology is shifting, with the move to the cloud leading to hybrid infrastructures within many organizations. Keeping the lights on is crucial in a 24x7, fast-paced world. Successfully managing this greater complexity is therefore vital — we’ve all seen the negative impact of IT failures on customer relationships, loyalty, revenues and share prices.
That’s why you need to constantly monitor your server performance and availability, so that you spot potential problems before they develop, protect your end users, and ensure the database is not a blocker to agile DevOps delivery. Good feedback loops like this allow you to move towards becoming more proactive, instead of reactive, so you can optimize and de-risk your estate, which is essential when you need to grow and deliver faster.
4. Regulatory pressures are growing
Whether you are part of the IT department or a business manager, you’ll have seen the increasing focus on protecting sensitive customer data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU has now been joined by the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which will start being enforced from 1 July 2020, with both introducing strict rules on how customer data is used, stored and protected. At the same time, consumers themselves are more aware of their rights and want to know how their personal information is being handled.
Effective DevOps supports greater compliance needs. By automating processes and providing full audit trials it makes it easier to document and demonstrate to regulators that rules are being obeyed. Additionally, using data masking within development enables teams to create and test new code based on realistic data sets, all while protecting sensitive data.
The positive impact of DevOps reaches far beyond the IT department and enables organizations to respond to customer needs faster while keeping data safe. Linking its benefits to your business priorities will help adoption, widen its scope and strengthen its impact, delivering value across your entire organization.