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The Role of DevOps in Averting Digital Transformation Chaos

By Michael Segal June 02, 2017

Today’s business environment has proven ripe for disruption, and, in the face of fast-growing market entrants, most enterprises have begun shifting strategies to align with the new business paradigm – Digital Transformation (DX). Underpinning DX is the global conversion towards an information-driven economy where data is the new currency and almost all aspects of business are rooted in software. While most enterprises are at some stage of the DX journey, there is still a great deal of uncertainty. This is largely because DX requires multiple IT technologies, processes, applications, systems and protocols to be adopted and updated on a regular basis, which causes significant disruption.

 This challenge is compounded by the fact that the pace of digital service development continues to accelerate, largely due to increased automation, leaving IT operations teams having to constantly play catch up. While automation of processes such as planning, delivery, integration, and testing, and also the deployment of applications and services, offer tremendous benefits for continuous delivery, it shifts constraint to the production environment that now gates the overall flow of the value stream to customers.

Finally, when you add additional services and systems to an already complex enterprise IT environment, boasting legacy systems and hybrid infrastructures, complexity only increases. All this combined can lead to chaos in the enterprise when it comes to DX, and it is crucial that an element of control is brought in to manage this, otherwise enterprises risk a catastrophic DX failure.

Understanding Chaos

As the demand for continuous service development and delivery only increases, enterprises will turn to DevOps principles more than ever before and the DevOps Chaos Theory will become an important consideration for any enterprise.

Looking in-depth at this theory, the pace of innovation is measured as the Velocity (V) or the number of new software releases deployed in a production environment in a defined time period. The Scale (S) factor is measured as the overall number of IT staff involved in service delivery and management in production environments, such as DevOps, SecOps, QA, system architects, DBAs, NetOps, and help desk. Interaction between these team members brings the potential for miscommunication, which will increase the overall chaos. The maximum number of interactions between these IT members is × (- 1)/2 and for high scale organizations it approaches S²/2.

Based on these considerations, a logical hypothesis would identify the system-level Chaos (C) in production environments as C=××S². K is the normalization factor that may change based on the overall adoption of DX in a specific industry and the effectiveness of collaboration and communication between the IT team members.

Controlling the DX Journey

While automation tools play a crucial role in continuous delivery and, as a result, the DX transformation, they do indirectly also contribute to the chaos within the enterprise, particularly in the production environment. In addition, the DevOps paradigm from delivering “failsafe” applications to expecting a “safe-to-fail” production environment increases this chaos even further. Close collaboration and communication between the IT team members responsible for service development and delivery will be vital in controlling, or at least minimizing, the resulting chaos, and with this in mind, effective management at a human level should form an important part of a company’s DX strategy. In the meantime, service performance management technology must also be introduced, to prevent operations from becoming a bottleneck to the continuous service delivery cycle inherent to DX.

The key for enterprises to manage the chaos is an effective instrumentation and monitoring strategy to facilitate exactly that effective collaboration across IT teams. Since service delivery combines application and infrastructure into a single system, telemetry of key performance indicators (KPIs) of this system is critical. Monitoring system-level KPIs requires access to reliable data sources, such as network traffic and application communication with the operating system (OS) in virtualized environments.

An effective instrumentation of these data sources will play a key role in proactively identifying the root-cause of application and service issues and thus reining in chaos. Enterprises must be able to effectively analyse the monitored data to gain insight into all the infrastructure subsystems and applications interdependencies with these subsystems to establish a comprehensive view of their services, accessing both real-time and historic information.  

The demand for continuous service development and delivery is only set to increase as industries become more competitive and consumers more demanding. As a result, enterprises must act now to mitigate the potential chaos they face.  

If you’d like to learn more about the digital transformation, be sure to check out TMC and Crossfire Media’s newest conference and expo, Communications 20/20, happening July 18-20 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The event will focus on the next wave of technology and innovations that will transcend the importance of person to person contact, disrupting the future of the entire communications industry. Find out more HERE.

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