Is your organization ready for DevOps? It should be coming to System z data centers almost any day now, riding in on newly announced IBM cloud-based DevOps services, software, and infrastructure designed to help large organizations develop and deliver quality software faster.
Launch of the Bluemix Garage in London
DevOps streamlines enterprise workflow by truncating the development, testing, and deployment process. It entails collaborative communications around the end-to-end enterprise workflow flow and incorporates a continuous feedback to expedite the process. DevOps evolved out of Agile methodologies over a decade ago.
Agile was intended to streamline the traditional waterfall IT development process by putting developers and business unit people and the deployment folks together to build, test, and deploy new applications fast. Agile teams would deliver agreed upon and tested functionality within a month. Each deliverable was short, addressing only a subset of the total functionality. Each was followed by the next containing yet more functionality. In the process, previously delivered functionality might be modified or replaced with a new deliverable.
IBM is streamlining the process further by tapping into the collaborative power of the company’s Cloud portfolio and business transformation experience to speed the delivery of software that supports new models of engagement. To be clear, IBM definitely is not talking about using DevOps with the organization’s systems of record—the core transaction systems that are hallmark of the z and the heartbeat of the enterprise. The most likely candidates will be systems of engagement, systems of innovation, and analytics systems. These are systems that need to be delivered fast and will change frequently.
According to IBM software-driven innovation has emerged as a primary way businesses create and deliver new value to customers. A survey of 400 business and IT executives by the IBM Institute for Business Value showed businesses that are more effective at software delivery are also more profitable than their peers nearly 70 percent of the time. DevOps provides a way for businesses to remain competitive, applying lean and agile principles to software development to speed the delivery of software that meets new market requirements.
Agile represented a radical departure from the waterfall process, which called for developers to take a full set of business requirements, disappear to two years, and return with a finished application that worked right. Except that it often took longer for the developers to return with the code and the application didn’t work as promised. By then the application was well over budget and late. System z shops know this well.
DevOps today establishes a continuous, iterative process flow between the development team and the deployment group and incorporates many Agile concepts, including the active involvement of the business people, frequent testing, and quick release cycles. As the IBM survey noted DevOps was spurred by the rise of smartphones and mobile computing. Mobile users demand working functionality fast and expect frequent updates. Two-year release cycles were unacceptable; competitors would be out with newer and better apps long before. Even six-month release cycles seem unresponsive. This is one of the realities DevOps addresses. Another reality is extreme scaling, something z data centers understand.
According to IBM, the company’s new DevOps Innovation Services help address the challenge of scaling development, enabling enterprises to shorten their software delivery lifecycle. The hybrid cloud services combine IBM’s industry expertise from hundreds of organizational change and application development projects with the industry’s leading application development portfolio, especially Bluemix, IBM’s open DIY cloud PaaS platform. They also apply the flexibility of IBM’s enterprise-grade, hybrid cloud portfolio, which was recently ranked by Synergy Research Group as the leading hybrid and private cloud for the enterprise. These services are based on SoftLayer, IBM’s cloud infrastructure platform.
In a second DevOps-related announcement last month IBM described an initiative to bring a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix. The new initiative enables developers to build applications around their most sensitive data and deploy them in a dedicated cloud environment to help them capture the benefits of cloud while avoiding the compliance, regulatory and performance issues that are presented with public clouds. System z shops can appreciate this.
Major enterprise system vendors like IBM, EMC, Cisco, and Oracle are making noises about DevOps. As far as solid initiatives IBM appears far ahead, especially with the two November announcements.