How CIOs Should Approach DevOps
July 10, 2024

Alok Uniyal

DevOps is a software development methodology that combines software development and IT operations to speed up application development. Unlike the traditional "waterfall" model of software development, where planning, development, testing and implementation occur separately, under separate teams, DevOps uses multifunctional teams to run several activities in parallel. But beyond its development practices and tools, DevOps is also a culture, and a new way of thinking about application delivery.

It stands to reason then, that CIOs must also revise their view of software to succeed with DevOps.

Encourage Collaboration

A collaborative environment is the essence of DevOps culture. There should be no divisions or walls preventing development, operations, testing and other teams from working together seamlessly. CIOs should assemble cross-functional teams, a key step in breaking down silos and opening channels for exchanging knowledge, accommodating divergent points of view, solving problems jointly, and working on solutions in harmony. This also fosters openness, trust, and a sense of shared responsibility, so essential for successful collaboration.

Agile methodologies are very useful for improving collaboration between teams and especially for enabling iterative development; the teams work on smaller pieces of development, refining continuously, and adapting to changing demands with ease. Besides continuous improvement, agile enables continuous feedback, with the result that team members can help each other by identifying improvement areas, learn from one another, and work cohesively towards the same goals.

Apply Automation

Automation is a vital enabler of DevOps goals, such as speed and efficiency. It streamlines development and operational processes, lowers error rates and improves the quality of software. With routine tasks taken care of, employees can focus on creating value by coming up with innovative solutions to problems, working on strategy, etc.

For example, by automating integration to consolidate code changes made by different people within a common repository on a regular basis, enterprises can streamline workflows, fix integration issues early, and ensure that all teams work with the same, up-to-date version of the application. Similarly, automation of build and testing enhances consistency and efficiency of development.

Once the changes to code have been tested and verified, continuous deployment automatically puts them into production, without any manual intervention; thus, any new features or customizations become available to end-users much faster. Like automated (continuous) integration, continuous deployment improves consistency and reduces error rates.

‍CIOs must also consider another avenue of automation, namely, treating infrastructure as code, which is about provisioning, deploying, scaling, managing and supporting computing infrastructure (servers, operating systems, storage components etc.) through code, rather than physical hardware configuration and manual processes for more stable and efficient operations.

Go for Scale

CIOs should have a vision for scaling DevOps across the enterprise for unlocking its full range of benefits. A collaborative culture, automation, and technical skills are all necessary for achieving scale. Besides these, the CIO needs to think about the right team structure, security landscape, and technical tools that will take DevOps safely from pilot to production to enterprise scale. It is recommended to start small: dedicate a small platform team focused only on building a platform that enables automation of various development tasks. Build the platform in small steps, incrementally and iteratively. Put together another small team with all the skills required to deliver value to customers. Constantly gather customer feedback and incorporate it to improve development at every stage. Ultimately, customer satisfaction is what matters the most in any DevOps program.

Security needs to be part of every DevOps process right from the start. When a process is automated, so should its security and compliance aspects. Frequent code reviews and building awareness among all the concerned teams will help to create secure, resilient applications that can be scaled with confidence. Tool selection should favor low-noise, high-signal options, but importantly, also consider how the chosen tools will deliver on key metrics. Other selection criteria include cost, automation, ease of use, and business needs.

Future-proof it

The world of DevOps is dynamic and continuously evolving. CIOs need to be on top of key trends to keep their DevOps programs contemporary and relevant. Modern tools and technologies are important, but will not be effective unless deployed in a cultural environment, which nurtures collaboration, learning, and trust between teams. Finally, continuous improvement and adaptability to changing business and customer needs will help to future-proof the program.

Alok Uniyal is SVP and Head of Process Consulting at Infosys
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