For a growing number of businesses, DevOps—a practice that emphasizes collaboration and communication between software developers and other IT professionals, while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes—is essential to becoming a more agile organization.
DevOps adoption and the emergence of a DevOps culture “is being driven by competitive pressures and the need to be more responsive to customers,” says Kurt Bittner, principal analyst, application development and delivery at Forrester Research. “DevOps practices enable organizations to increase their speed of delivery and, ultimately, the rate at which they can innovate.”
Businesses that start to adopt DevOps can benefit from faster responses to changing market conditions and customer sentiments, as well as from the higher quality and lower costs that result from spending less time building solutions, he adds.
“We see DevOps as a culture that encompasses people, practices, tools and philosophy,” says Tom Cabanski, director of software development at Blinds.com, an online provider of shade and drapery products that is owned by retailer Home Depot. “In that sense, it has become central to everything we do to develop, maintain and operate our e-commerce sites,” which include Blinds.com, JustBlinds.com, AmericanBlinds.com and Home Depot custom window coverings.
DevOps has been embraced by the company’s agile development teams and operations group, as well as by those responsible for the IT infrastructure.
Blinds.com is relying on a number of DevOps tools and vendors. They include Git and GitHub for source control, Puppet to help roll out and manage servers, Octopus Deploy to roll out code, Splunk to manage logs, Nagios for infrastructure monitoring, and NewRelic for an app monitoring tool and to alert managers to problems with user experience.
Organizational Culture Drives DevOps Adoption Strategy
A move to the agile development methodology drove the adoption of DevOps. “Our adoption of agile was driven by our organization’s culture more than anything else,” Cabanski explains.
“One of our key values is ‘experiment without fear of failure.’ Another is ‘improve continuously.’ Over the years, our whole IT process had gotten into that uncomfortable place where limited resources led to a difficult relationship with the rest of the business.”
Agile helped break down the walls that had developed and created a sharing environment, which eventually resulted in a true partnership for innovation. “DevOps is a necessary part of the agile process,” he says. Surveys show that it enables agile, which allows the company to continuously improve. But it’s also a big part of how the business delivers on the promises of its new e-commerce platform, which led directly to the acquisition by Home Depot.
DevOps “has allowed us to continue to innovate and thrive inside a Fortune 50 corporation and take on new challenges to help drive innovation outside of the custom window coverings business,” Cabanski reports. “DevOps is like oxygen for the agile process. Without it, it’s very possible that we would have ended up with agile in name only—where agile terminology is used, but nothing really changes, and the organization doesn’t see the kind of exponential increase in innovation that we’ve benefited from here.”