Helping companies develop a dynamic DevOps structure
(Abstract: This article originally appeared in the Sunday Business Post on July 1, 2018)
Codec knows a thing or two about improving processes. The company has been working with high-growth IT companies and large enterprises across all sectors for the past 33 years. Through its approach to DevOps – the practice of applying agile, architectural and operational best practices to software delivery – it helps businesses develop shorter development cycles, reduce security and compliance risks, and improve IT efficiencies. This is bolstered by its close relationship with Microsoft. It recently won Microsoft Country Partner of
the Year for the second year in a row – and the third time in four years.
Moving businesses away from legacy systems and approaches is the first challenge, says Eoin Barry, Codec’s DevOps Practice
Lead. “One of the things we see quite often when we go out to customers, is that their organisational structure is a legacy to using dated software development methodologies such as waterfall.
“When you’re working in a waterfall way, you have a lot of functional silos within your IT departments. So you have guys who are responsible for doing the planning, you’ve guys responsible for doing some architecture, you have front-end, and back-end integration teams. “Over the years, we’ve found this division of labour is extremely costly. You have high communication latency between the teams and heavy dependencies between them. Getting software out to production becomes extremely costly.”
One example of this is a large Fintech company which worked with Codec. Having used the same architecture and infrastructure it first had when it was set up almost a decade ago, it was constantly working in an ad-hoc fashion, usually fire-fighting ongoing production issues. By working with Codec, the company was able to introduce lean, agile development practices and embed a DevOps culture within its teams. It was able to achieve this by implementing changes like tracking cycle time lead time, making delivery teams cross-functional and market-orientated, and ensuring that TDD (Test-Driven Development) is actively being introduced. Part of the path to implementing a DevOps strategy is to break down functional silos, so that you have cross-functional teams that are assigned a single role and responsibility for the company. This removes any delays caused by inefficient communication and waiting for approval from other teams. While DevOps does prioritise connectivity and breaking down silos, it works when there are clear definable roles for teams to follow. One of the examples Barry gives is of an online retailer that has a sales division.
This business function for Sales should have a corresponding delivery team called Sales. Once this delivery team has a clear single responsibility is – to carry out the business’s sales function – and has all the capabilities it needs to deliver the software, they don’t really need to communicate with anyone else. This allows each team to release software independent of each other. If one team has a problem releasing something, the setup means they won’t delay the other teams “You don’t have these interconnected teams that have to rely on each other to deliver something,” he says.
“They have direct access to the sales department and deliver the software directly for the sales department. So that has a massive impact on how quickly you can deliver your software.” Codec takes a twopronged approach when implementing a DevOps strategy: it looks at a company’s existing delivery process to identify bottlenecks while bridging the gap between IT and the business, enabling
the business to generate new revenue quickly. IT is ubiquitous in almost every business now, but Barry says some people overlook it during these transformations, despite the fact that it is integral to a business’s success.
“A lot of people still go with this mentality that, we’re the business, they’re IT, we tell them what to do and they do it,” he says.
“Whereas in the modern day, your IT department is your business. Most companies are generating revenue through their IT function, so if you’re ignoring that or abstracting that, it’s at your peril. “We look at the existing business and get the development team to learn the business inside out. From that, you can get them to optimise these processes and work on generating additional revenue streams. “The other thing we do is look at the existing delivery process and see where the bottlenecks are. It’s two things you need to do in parallel.” Adopting a DevOps approach will continue to be a challenge for any business yet with the likes of Codec helping out, that transition will be more straightforward.