Three Keys for Integrating Partnerships in a DevOps Platform
April 13, 2021

Leonid Belkind
StackPulse

A platform is something that provides its users a value that is greater than just the functionality it delivers. Trying to create a software platform in a silo won't cut it as software development practices have matured through continuous improvement, testing, and delivery.

For developers, building a platform means creating one link in a larger pipeline. Continuous delivery, monitoring tools, and elegant user interfaces are useless if they can't integrate with infrastructure, cloud services, or other developer tools.

Working in concert with industry partners is a critical step in the software development lifecycle. Collaboration with partners is just as important as analysis and design, but often gets short shrift. Without industry partnerships, both at the technical and business level, the platform will never achieve the necessary velocity and adoption.

To help organizations meet their goals, I'd like to highlight three strategies that software teams should consider to strengthen partnerships in the development cycle.

1. Remember: You're Part of a Toolchain

When you're building for software developers, reliability engineers (aka SREs), or anyone in the application lifecycle, you're actually part of a toolchain. In other words, you're a member of a broad ecosystem. You have a responsibility to your end users beyond the product, and this responsibility has two major components:

■ Ensuring the product blends in with your users' existing processes, workflows, and tools.

■ Teaming with other vendors to extend value and avoid outages and disruption.

2. Focus on the API

Fitting in seamlessly with an ecosystem starts with ensuring that your product is built to integrate. You can deliver services faster and increase value with attention to how you consume assets and reuse artifacts. That's where an API strategy comes in.

First, build the API and focus on how to make integration easy. After all, you want teams to reuse, repurpose, and consume existing assets instead of building services from scratch. This strategy leaves you with more time to focus on the value you can deliver to the toolchain.

Second, since you invested in tools and infrastructure to kickstart operations, you must be able to extract value from the product integrations. APIs can help. For instance, you can scale by building monitoring and automated reporting tools based on APIs. Reusing APIs can also free up scarce resources and allow more consistency and innovation. Plan to integrate APIs both internally within your organization and externally with partners.

3. Plan Holistically for Tech Integration and Go-To-Market

Your partnership strategy should be comprehensive, encompassing the technical integration and go-to-market campaign. Building on the APIs, you can start with product integration, but it's not enough. Without an equal investment in business development, you'll lose in the long run.

The goal is to ensure the platform is always integrated to deliver value faster, and that teams can test and deploy code in minutes not days. The benefit is scale. Even the largest enterprise software organizations have resource constraints and alliance priorities. Partners help every business extend their capabilities, providing expertise, relationships, engineering know-how, and sales or marketing reach you might not have today. They bridge gaps across security, issue detection, reporting, compliance, and cost management to deliver on the promise of continuous testing and reliability for end users.

Too often, building an application in isolation means individual organizations determine the type of testing that is done without taking partners into consideration. Collaboration needs to be end-to-end. Integration partners must communicate roadmap changes so they can plan feature rollouts and set expectations for testing future releases. This process is critical because, by design, integration testing will help shake out errors and evaluate the behavior and performance of the platform. More importantly, integrated testing provides confidence to partners on delivery, and in turn, provides consistency and cohesion in the communication of updates to end users.

After all, technical partnerships and product integration are wasted if the partnership stops at testing. Part of our responsibility to our customers is to work with our partners — with the companies that make the other tools customers use — to deliver education and awareness. If a customer isn't taking full advantage of the integrations you've built, then the value you've invested in building is for naught. Business development and marketing alliance managers need to conceive joint go-to-market campaigns that explain the joint value proposition. Look for intersection points in the business challenges and how customers can expeditiously overcome issues with advanced automation in every part of the software lifecycle.

Getting Started with DevOps Partnerships

Automation as well as collaboration, monitoring, and tool-chain pipelines are all at the heart of DevOps best practices. Along with the best tools, development and engineering teams have the opportunity to bring together a mindset change to build a better mousetrap. This means embracing the partner model as part of, not separate to, the DevOps culture. The payoff is a continuous approach to software services reliability that removes chaos and overhead, leads with automation, and achieves the scale that modern enterprises need to thrive today.

Leonid Belkind is Co-Founder and CTO at StackPulse
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