3 Advantages to Embracing the DevOps Movement (Plus Bonus Pipeline Info!)

What is DevOps?

As a result of the increase in cloud adoption across all industries, understanding practices and tools that help organizations’ software run efficiently is essential to how their cloud environment and organization operate. However, many companies do not have the knowledge or expertise needed for success. In fact, Puppet’s 2021 State of DevOps Report found that while 2 in 3 respondents report using the public cloud, only 1 in 4 use the cloud to its full potential.

Enter the DevOps movement

What is DevOps

The concept of DevOps combines development and operations to encourage collaboration, embrace automation, and speed up the deployment process. Historically, development and operations teams worked independently, leading to inefficiencies and inconsistencies in objectives and department leadership. DevOps is the movement to eliminate these roadblocks and bring the two communities together to transform how their software operates.

According to a 2020 Atlassian survey, 99% of developers & IT decision-makers say DevOps has positively impacted their organization. Benefits include helping advance their career, and better and faster deliverables. Given the favorable outcome for these developers and IT decision-makers, adopting DevOps tools and practices is a no-brainer. But here are three more advantages to embracing the DevOps movement:

1. Speed

Practices like microservices and continuous delivery allow your business operations to move faster, as your operations and development teams can innovate for customers more quickly, adapt to changing markets, and efficiently drive business results. Additionally, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) automate the software release process for fast and continuous software delivery. A quick release process will allow you to release new features, fix bugs, respond to your customers’ needs, and ultimately, provide your organization with a competitive advantage.

2. Security

While DevOps focuses on speed and agile software development, security is still of high priority in a DevOps environment. Tools such as automated compliance policies, fine-grained controls, and configuration management techniques will help you reap the speed and efficiencies provided by DevOps while maintaining control and compliance of your environment.

3. Improved Collaboration

DevOps is more than just technical practices and tools. A complete DevOps transformation involves adopting cultural values and organizational practices that increase collaboration and improve company culture. The DevOps cultural model emphasizes values like ownership and accountability, which work together to improve company culture. As development and operations teams work closely together, their collaboration reduces inefficiencies in their workflows. Additionally, collaboration entails succinctly communicating roles, plans, and goals. The State of DevOps Report also found that clarity of purpose, mission and operating context seem to be strongly associated with highly evolved organizations.

In short, teams who adopt DevOps practices can improve and streamline their deployment pipeline.

What is a DevOps Pipeline?

What is a DevOps pipeline

The term “DevOps Pipeline” is used to describe the set of automated processes and tools that allow developer and operations teams to implement, test, and deploy code to a production environment in a structured and organized manner.

A DevOps pipeline may look different or vary from company to company, but there are typically eight phases: plan, code, build, test, release, deploy, operate, and monitor. When developing a new application, a DevOps pipeline ensures that the code runs smoothly. Once written, various tests are run on the code to flush out potential bugs, mistakes, or any other possible errors. After building the code and running the tests for proper performance, the code is ready for deployment to external users.

A significant characteristic of a DevOps pipeline is it is continuous, meaning each function occurs on an ongoing basis. The most vital one, which was mentioned earlier, is CI/CD. CI, or continuous integration, is the practice of automatically and continuously building and testing any changes submitted to an application. CD, or continuous delivery, extends CI by using automation to release software frequently and predictably with the click of a button. CD allows developers to perform a more comprehensive assessment of updates to confirm there are no issues.

Other “continuous” DevOps practices include:

  • Continuous deployment: This practice goes beyond continuous delivery (CD). It is an entirely automated process that requires no human intervention, eliminating the need for a “release day.”
  • Continuous feedback: Applying input from customers and stakeholders, and systematic testing and monitoring code in the pipeline, allows developers to implement changes faster, leading to greater customer satisfaction.
  • Continuous testing: A fundamental enabler of continuous feedback. Performing automated tests on the code throughout the pipeline leads to faster releases and a higher quality product.
  • Continuous monitoring: Another component of continuous feedback. Use this practice to continuously assess the health and performance of your applications and identify any issues.
  • Continuous operations: Use this practice to minimize or eliminate downtime for your end users through efficiently managing hardware and software changes.

 Embrace the DevOps Culture

We understand that change is not always easy. However, through our Application Modernization & DevOps Transformation process, 2nd Watch can help you embrace and achieve a DevOps culture.

From a comprehensive assessment that measures your current software development and operational maturity to developing a strategy for where and how to apply different DevOps approaches to ongoing management and support, we will be with you every step of the way. Following is what a typical DevOps transformation engagement with us looks like:

Phase 0: Basic DevOps Review

  • DevOps and assessment overview delivered by our Solutions Architects

Phase 1: Assessment & Strategy

  • Initial 2-4 week engagement to measure your current software development and operational maturity
  • Develop a strategy for where and how to apply DevOps approaches

Phase 2: Implementation

Phase 3: Onboarding to Managed Services

  • 1-2 week onboarding to 2nd Watch Managed DevOps service and integration of your operations team and tools with ours

Phase 4: Managed DevOps

  • Ongoing managed service, including monitoring, security, backups, and patching
  • Ongoing guidance and coaching to help you continuously improve and increase the use of tooling within your DevOps teams

Getting Started with DevOps

While companies may understand the business benefits derived from DevOps, 2nd Watch has the knowledge and expertise to help accelerate their digital transformation journey. 2nd Watch is a Docker Authorized Consulting Partner and has earned the AWS DevOps Competency for technical proficiency, leadership, and proven success in helping customers adopt the latest DevOps principles and technologies. Contact us today to get started.

-Tessa Foley, Marketing

 

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4 DevOps Myths Debunked

DevOps is a set of cultural values and organizational practices that improve business outcomes by increasing collaboration and feedback between teams. Of course, there are industry best practices, but a DevOps transformation will look different and yield different results for each organization, depending on its business and strategy. With a lot of options and moving parts to a DevOps transformation, don’t let these myths delay beginning your transformation.

Myth #1: Tools will solve your DevOps problems.

Unfortunately, even the best tools are not going to solve all your DevOps issues. Tools are enablers that assist in removing unnecessary toil, but they can’t magically make things perfect. For instance, implementing an automation tool sounds like a great time and resource saver at first glance. However, the tool can only produce those results if the structure around the tool can accommodate the action. If your team isn’t ready for that speed, you’ll likely just speed to failure.

Don’t put the tools before the structure. Instead, think long-term and comprehensively when constructing your DevOps transformation map. Otherwise, roadblocks will slow down your ability to achieve speed.

Myth #2: You should start with CI/CD.

Typically, people begin their DevOps transformation with continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). A CI/CD pipeline enables fast code changes through automated deployment steps that create a more consistent and agile environment. While the results of CI/CD are the goal, starting there doesn’t take into account the support necessary for successful implementation.

Today, the DevOps transformation is being refined to include discussions and planning around the evolvement of production support, application monitoring, and automated dashboards. When you start with CI/CD, you’re focused on development speed, but operations might not be ready to accommodate. In true DevOps fashion, you need to bridge the gap between development and operations first to produce a streamlined feedback loop. Operations must have their tools ready to feed into the CI/CD pipeline to break down barriers early on and avoid stopping points in the future.

Myth #3: DevOps transformation and cloud transformation can’t happen at the same time.

Promises of more speed and lower costs motivate businesses to jump into the cloud quickly, with the expectation that those benefits and return on investment (ROI) are delivered immediately. The issue with this way of thinking is not enough forethought prior to action, with a fracture resulting between departments. Teams need to be trained on new cloud procedures, security must be implemented, legal has to update contracts, and company culture, from the top down, needs to be onboard for adoption.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of overlap between a DevOps transformation and a cloud transformation. In fact, DevOps can be the support you need for a successful cloud transformation without any roadblocks. Instead of waiting on DevOps because you’re not agile yet, start with it at the beginning of your cloud transformation. Utilize DevOps best practices as you migrate to the cloud to help transform how your teams work with a well-constructed plan for company-wide implementation.

Myth #4: The role of security is for vulnerability scanning.

Waiting until you’re finished with development to include security is a DevOps anti-pattern. As an essential part of the business, security can contribute more than just vulnerability scanning before you go live. When you only look to security for the last line screening, you’re inviting a significant bottleneck into your process.

Of course, getting security involved and excited about DevOps can be a struggle because they’re inherently at odds. The goal of DevOps is to increase speed with new tools. The goal of security is to decrease risk, which can slow processes and releases. But when you apply speed and change with new implementations, you are increasing risk. Instead of asking, “How do we get security involved before vulnerability scanning?” consider the benefit of getting development to include security as part of the CI/CD pipeline. Automate steps like vulnerability scanning, secrets detection, license checks, SAST & DAST early in the development cycle so that issues are found and addressed early on. This removes the security roadblock to production.

In addition, cross-training between DevOps and security invites both teams to understand their colleagues’ goals, responsibilities, roles, expectations, risks, and challenges. Give each team real life examples of how the gap creates conflict for each side. Once they have a better understanding of the other side, they’re more likely to consider one another during product planning and development.

One well-known and widely accepted truth to a successful DevOps transformation is the benefit of an expert partner in the process. 2nd Watch offers packaged service offerings to help you get the most out of your DevOps transformation with start to finish essentials that deliver the results you expect. Contact Us to see how you can gain more leverage with less risk.

-Stefana Muller, Sr Product Manager, DevOps & Migration

 

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Inside our Minds: Avoidable Security Issues

We picked our cloud security experts’ brains to find out what the biggest security hole they’ve ever had to patch was, what one of the worst security risks they’ve found and resolved was, and what the most avoidable security issue they see often is.

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What is DevOps to Us?

What is DevOps to us? Our experts talk automating deployment of applications and infrastructure, including CI/CD pipelines, and the most popular DevOps tools.

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10 Ways Migrating to the Cloud Can Improve Your IT Organization

While at 2nd Watch, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a plethora of CIOs on their journey to the cloud.  Some focused on application-specific migrations, while others focused on building a foundation. Regardless of where they started, their journey began out of a need for greater agility, flexibility, extensibility and standardization.

Moving to the cloud not only provides you with agility, flexibility and extensibility – it actually improves your IT organization. How? In this post I will outline 10 ways migrating to the cloud will improve your IT organization.

  1. CI/CD: IT organizations require speed and agility when responding to development and infrastructure requests. Today’s development processes encourage continuous integration, summarized as continuously releasing code utilizing release automation. Using these processes, an IT organization is able to continually produce minimally viable products – faster.
  2. Organizational Streamlining: In order to implement continuous integration, an organization’s processes must be connected and streamlined – from resource provisioning to coding productivity. Moving to the cloud enables the IT organization to create sustainable processes; processes that track requests for resources, the provisioning of those resources, streamlined communication and facilitates the business unit chargeback in addition to the general benefit of working more efficiently. For example, the provisioning process of one customer took 15 days – from requirement gathering to approval to finally provisioning resources. By working with the 2nd Watch team we were able to automate the entire provisioning process, including several approval gates. The new automated process now deploys the requested systems in minutes compared to days.
  3. Work More Efficiently: Moving to the cloud returns the IT organization’s focus to where it belongs so your team can focus on the jobs they were hired to do. No longer focused on resource provisioning, patching and configuration, they are now working on the core functions of their role, such as aligning new IT service offerings to business needs.
  4. New Capabilities: IT organizations can focus on developing new capabilities and capitalize on new opportunities for the business. More importantly, IT departments can focus on projects that more closely align to business strategy.
  5. An actual Dev/Test: Organizations can now create true Dev/Test environments in the cloud that enables self-service provisioning and de-provisioning of testing servers with significantly lower cost and overhead. Something that was previously expensive, inefficient and hard to maintain on-prem can now be deployed in a way that is easy, flexible and cost efficient.
  6. Dedicated CIO Leadership: Moving to and operating within a cloud-based environment requires strong IT leadership. Now the CIO is more easily able to focus on key strategic initiatives that deliver value to the business. With fewer distractions, this ability to define and drive the overall strategy and planning of the organization, IT policy, capacity planning, compliance and security enables the CIO to lead the charge with innovation when working with business.
  7. Foster Stronger IT and Business Relationships: Moving to the cloud creates stronger relationships between IT and the business. No longer is IT relegated to just determining requirements, selecting services and implementing the chosen solution. They can now participate in collaborative discussions with the business to help define what is Moving to the cloud fosters collaboration between IT and business leaders to promote a cohesive and inclusive cloud strategy that meets IT’s governance requirements but also enables the agility needed by the business to stay competitive.
  8. Creation of a CCoE: Migrating to the cloud offers the IT organization an opportunity to create a Cloud Center of Excellence. Ideally, the CCoE should be designed to be a custom turn-key operation embedded with your enterprise’s existing IT engineers as part of its core level of expertise. This team will consist of an IT team dedicated to creating, evangelizing, and institutionalizing best practices, frameworks, and governance for evolving technology operations, which are increasingly implemented using the cloud. The CCoE develops a point of view for how cloud technology is implemented at scale for an organization. Moreover, by creating a CCoE it can help with breaking down silos and creating a single pane of glass view when it comes to cloud technology, from creating a standard for machine images through infrastructure builds to managing cloud costs.
  9. New Training Opportunities: Evolving the technical breadth already present in the organization and working through the cultural changes required to bring the skeptics along is a great opportunity to bring your team closer together while simultaneously expanding your capabilities. The more knowledge your teams have on cloud technologies, the smoother the transition will be for the organization. As a result, you will develop more internal evangelists and ease the fear, uncertainty and doubt often felt by IT professionals when making the transition to the cloud. The importance of investing in training and growth of employees cannot be stressed enough as, based on our experience, there is a strong correlation between investments in training and successful moves to the cloud. Continued education is part of the “Cloud Way” that pays off while preserving much of the tribal knowledge that exists within your organization.
  10. Flexibility, Elasticity and Functionality: Cloud computing allows your IT organization to adapt more quickly with flexibility that is not available when working with on-prem solutions. Moving to a cloud platform enables quick response to internal capacity demands. No more over-provisioning! With cloud computing, you can pay as you go – spin up what you need when you need it, and spin it down when demand drops.

As a whole, IT organizations need to be prepared to set aside the old and welcome new approaches to delivering cloud services. The journey to the cloud not only brings efficiencies but also fosters more collaboration within your organization and enhances your IT organization to becoming a well-oiled machine that develops best practices and quickly responds to your business cloud needs. Ready to get started on your cloud journey? Contact us to get started with a Cloud Readiness Assessment.

-Yvette Schmitter, Senior Manager

 

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