The IBM Rational 2013 IT and EM Spring Launch story

Adopting a DevOps approach to application development and delivery helps organizations align development resources to satisfy your customers like never before - faster and with less risk. Mike Perrow describes IBM's vision for extending DevOps principles beyond the domain of IT, to include customers and business leaders in a cycle of software delivery and feedback.

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Mike Perrow, Editor, Brand Marketing and Strategy, IBM

author photoMike Perrow is a writer and editor for the brand strategy team within the IBM Rational organization. His current focus is assisting thought leaders and subject matter experts as they explain the business value of Rational products and services through white papers, journal articles, blog postings, and other media. He served for eight years as the founding editor of The Rational Edge online magazine.



03 June 2013

In every industry throughout the world, innovations made possible through software are yielding high impact and high consumer benefit. From online banking to GPS capability in our automobiles, from robotic surgery to advanced telecommunication systems, software is providing the value that's driving the world's economy. This is giving businesses an unprecedented opportunity to become both niche players and industry leaders.

Put it this way: Software innovation equals business innovation. But getting an organization to the point where its innovations help them consistently leap ahead of a competitor or capture a new business opportunity, well, that can seem out of reach.

Software innovation equals business innovation.

The rapid rise of empowered customers and consumers is creating expectations for higher-quality user experiences and that these improvements be delivered NOW, in real-time, which means continuous updates to software. Volatile economic and regulatory environments are another global factor that is requiring businesses to either adapt quickly or watch their competitors take the lead. And the biggest technology trends — mobile, cloud, big data, social, agility, and new development models such multisourcing — are all increasing application complexity as companies try to embrace these marketplace disruptions. (Multisourcing refers to the blending of internal and external business and IT services for an optimal mix to work toward business goals.)

In the most successful companies, the software development organizations are playing a greater role in the IT decision-making process. They are striving for closer collaboration with customers, yielding faster requirements definition and time to value for their IT investments. The key is using technology so that customer needs are closer to the development team's latest delivery, both in terms of time and accuracy. And with better agility, they are able to deliver faster to meet those customer needs.

DevOps: An approach to continuous delivery of software innovation

To do this, we at IBM believe that organizations need to deliver software and gather feedback from customers more quickly and efficiently by adopting the capability known as is DevOps, which integrates application development and IT operations. We believe that teams can use a DevOps approach to expand beyond the scope of development and operations handoffs to include customers, lines of business, development, testing, and operations. We define DevOps as an "enterprise capability for accelerated and continuous software delivery that enables clients to seize market opportunities and reduce time to customer feedback."

Adopting a DevOps approach will help you align development resources to satisfy your customers like never before — faster and with less risk.

This broader vision for DevOps unites customers, business owners, and IT teams (development, testing, and operations) in a continuous loop of feedback and improvement. This balances quality, cost, and speed for greatly improved business performance. The scope of this DevOps approach includes collaboration, integration, and automation across the entire software delivery lifecycle, from idea to delivery to monitoring and optimization.

By adopting this expanded concept of DevOps, organizations can seize new opportunities and gain several competitive advantages.

  • Get and respond to customer feedback continuously:
    • Differentiate and motivate more engaging customer experiences
    • Increase customer loyalty
    • Increase market share
  • Return quicker time to value:
    • Gain fast-mover advantage
    • Capture markets with software-based innovation
    • Improve predictability and success
  • Reduce waste and rework in software delivery:
    • Increase capacity to innovate
    • Shift resources to higher-value activities

By now, you might have seen the announcements that we made on June 3rd. If not, or if you'd like a more general view of the new capabilities that we're announcing, read on.

Putting DevOps in perspective

Historically (no more than 30 months ago, actually), DevOps referred to practices that improve the hand-offs between development teams who build software for the business and operations teams who put the software into production for running the business. As you probably know well, in most traditional organizations, the development and operations teams exist in separate silos, and efforts to improve efficiency and collaboration focus largely on software build and deployment automation.

DevOps benefits include business agility and customer responsiveness. In other words, business benefits. Increasingly, software innovation is how the organization delivers business innovation in this new era of computing. That brings this discussion back to where it began.

You might already be on a DevOps adoption path

DevOps, as an approach to more efficient, rapid, continuous delivery of software, is consistent with the IBM Rational organization's essential founding principles. These include iterative, incremental development; early integration; agility; and broad stakeholder collaboration across the development and delivery lifecycle. If your team has already adopted one or more of these principles for software development and delivery, then you're on your way toward a DevOps approach to your organization's objectives.

Involving all stakeholders in the software delivery process can help you create a continuous delivery cycle, which speeds customer feedback, as well as your team's ability to release more frequently. Whether or not you are a current IBM client, we encourage you to consider the DevOps lifecycle that Figure 1 illustrates.

Figure 1. The IBM approach to DevOps, stakeholders and four major stages
green boxes show four adoption paths, or stages

DevOps adoption paths and practices

Continuous software delivery includes key intermediate stages that embody specialized tasks in the workflow, shown by the green boxes in Figure 1. We call these stages DevOps adoption paths. They define the various tasks that most teams need to accomplish for successful software delivery. We outline four adoption paths for DevOps: Plan and Measure, Develop and Test, Release and Deploy, and Monitor and Optimize.

Please check the link at each of the DevOps adoption paths described below for more information.

Plan and Measure

Continuous business planning
Identifying the outcomes and resources needed to test the business vision and value, adapt and adjust continually, measure progress, and learn what customers want.

Related software: Rational® Focal Point™ (see Resources for a link)
 

Develop and Test

Collaborative development
Enables collaboration among business, development, and QA organizations — including contractors and vendors in outsourced projects spread across time zones — to deliver innovative, high-quality software continuously. Includes the practice of continuous integration.

See Collaborative Lifecycle Management.
 
Continuous testing
Reduces the cost of testing while helping development teams balance quality and speed. Eliminates testing bottlenecks through virtualized dependent services and simplifies the creation of virtualized test environments.

See Service virtualization.
 

Release and Deploy

Continuous release and deployment
Provides a continuous delivery pipeline that automates deployments to test and production environments.

See SmartCloud Continuous Delivery.
 

Monitor and Optimize

Continuous monitoring
Enterprise-class, easy-to-use reporting that helps developers and IT operations teams understand the performance and availability of their applications. Early feedback lowers costs of errors and change and helps steer projects toward successful completion.

See Application Performance Management (APM) solutions and SmartCloud Monitoring.
 
Continuous customer feedback and optimization
Provides the full context for analyzing customer behavior and pinpointing customer challenges. Feedback can be applied during both pre- and post-production phases to maximize the value of customer visits and transactions.
 

Related software announced Q1 2013:

  • IBM Tealeaf Customer Behavior Analysis
  • IBM SmartCloud Control Desk (see links in Resources)

Many of these capabilities use the IBM® Rational® Jazz™ open lifecycle integration platform to deliver specialized services for the intermediate stages and tasks. These capabilities also enable feedback, automation, collaboration, data sharing, and task flow. And they can be enabled or enhanced through the integration of our partner ecosystem of complementary software and services capabilities.


Conclusion

It's an old story: Companies move to capitalize on market shifts. But here's what we believe is the news for organizations relying on application development and delivery to achieve business innovation: Adopting a DevOps approach will help you align development resources to satisfy your customers like never before, faster, and with less risk.

The IBM organization has been a leading vendor in this arena for years. Let us help your organization as you explore the right tools and available expertise for using software delivery as a path to competitive advantage in the marketplace.

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