The pace of business change is limited by IT’s ability to create and release new capabilities. IT leaders are realizing that change is not a one-time activity; it’s a paradigm shift that requires a continuous delivery model along with agile development and a DevOps structure.
In a session titled “Living the DevOps Dream of Continuous Delivery: Modernizing Release Management to Increase Agility” at the Gartner Data Center Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit, Gartner managing vice president Ronni Colville and research director Colin Fletcher pointed to the relevance of the continuous delivery model in the context of a “system of innovation”—business leaders exploring new markets, new engagement platforms, and new features. By definition, that exploration requires shorter iterations to validate key assumptions about technologies, products, and the business to achieve a product-market fit. To make it work, businesses need to account for multiple development pivots (change = lots of risk) built on a continuous delivery model.
The idea is that through constant iterations, “systems of innovation” can more successfully address difficult business problems: Improved product-market fit increases user adoption, which in turn makes the system more relevant to its users and the business. Stability and reliability eventually become dominant attributes of the new approach. To be successful, however, this innovation lifecycle requires development and IT operations to work closely to bridge the gap between constant change and stability.
During the presentation, Fletcher emphasized that, “DevOps success depends on people truly collaborating, so barriers must come down.” This is incredibly hard for traditional IT organizations, where development is typically incentivized to make changes quickly while IT operations is focused on minimizing the impact of change.
Realizing the DevOps dream of a continuous delivery model requires dev and ops to collaborate in new ways. In the early stages of innovation, IT ops folks need to enable continuous delivery by codifying infrastructure. In the later stages, ops needs to keep a keen eye on how this constant change affects customer/user expectations.
The critical role of tools and automation
The final takeaway? Automation and common tools across the development and operations stages are also critical to help achieve the DevOps dream. Continuous delivery is a shared journey built on trust that both development and operations have to undertake to truly enable business agility and achieve significant business outcomes.
At New Relic, we have seen both born-digital and traditional enterprises realize the DevOps dream by first focusing on creating the right culture that fosters trust and collaboration between development and operations. Our customers use a combination of tools including infrastructure as code, release automation, and cloud provisioning to help automate continuous delivery.
New Relic’s software analytics platform can be a key driver of DevOps success by enabling data-driven conversations through a common language. Objective data on new feature adoption for every release helps guide product managers in their journey towards achieving product-market fit. Application performance baselines, deployment markers, and code performance enable developers and IT ops to identify the impact of change on application performance and stability.
Keeping up with constant change is seldom easy, but with the right tools and a focus on collaboration, it is possible to live the dream of continuous delivery.