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FCW : August 15, 2015
RAJ ANANTHANPILLAI is CEO of InfoZen. Commentary | RAJ ANANTHANPILLAI DevOps is certainly not new, but it is becoming more important every day. This is especially true in federal IT. The private sector has embraced DevOps, and it has changed the way businesses operate. It’s been six years since the first DevOps Day in Europe, and its influence has spread around the world. In that time, the end of iso- lation between development and operations teams has paved the way for commercial organizations to turn out better software more quickly and to achieve new levels of quality and efficiency. Unfortunately, those successes have not translated to federal agen- cies. The 18F program, with its support of agile software delivery, is an enormous step in the right direction, but there are still critical barriers to overcome if agencies are going to adopt true DevOps cultures. Here are three keys to making that vision a reality: 1. Change the culture of fear. As with the cloud, the biggest fed- eral barrier to DevOps is the fear of change. It isn’t unique to the government, but it’s amplified in this market because the stakes are so high. When you’re responsible for protecting national security or public health, trying something new can be daunting. That type of change comes only with buy-in from leaders at the highest levels, so how do you get them on board? The best way is to start small. Move forward with a low-risk pilot program. Get the developers and operations teams in the same room working toward a common goal, and track the benefits. When agency leaders see the reduced turnaround time, efficiency gains and cost savings, they’ll be ready to build an agencywide DevOps culture. 2. Find and build talent. DevOps is a culture shift that requires tal- ented people with unique skills and experience. However, the “right” people are scarce and in high demand. To overcome the talent gap, agencies must implement a two-pronged strategy that incorpo- rates recruiting and training. The private sector has a role to play in providing educational sup- port programs to agencies with the goal of building the next genera- tion of federal DevOps leaders. In parallel, agencies must get more aggressive about recruiting top tech talent from our universities. A commitment to implementing emerging IT strategies that include DevOps, agile software develop- ment and cloud computing will make federal IT a more attractive place for our most talented gradu- ates to find employment. 3. Measure, measure, measure. One of the best aspects of DevOps is its ability to deliver return-on- investment metrics. You never have to guess whether or not it’s making an impact. The first step is to record the baseline metrics. Agencies must know how efficient — or inef- ficient — their existing software development processes are at the outset. Then it’s time to start track- ing the improvement. Based on our experience, soft- ware builds will be three to four times quicker, and deployment will be eight to 10 times faster, with a 50 percent uplift in quality (mea- sured by a reduction of incidents and incident duration). We’ve seen enterprises institute a DevOps structure and reduce release win- dows from 2 days to 2 hours, just through repeatability and scalability. There is a saying I hear repeated often: “To err is human. To err on 10,000 servers in 10 minutes is DevOps.” It’s good for a laugh but, at its core, DevOps is the realiza- tion of a more productive, efficient organizational model. It’s time for the government to break down the barriers, build a modern IT culture and deliver better software in shorter cycles. n 3 keys to building a federal DevOps culture Government lags behind the private sector in breaking down the wall between the development and operations teams. Here’s how agencies can close the gap. With DevOps, software builds will be three to four times quicker, and deployment will be eight to 10 times faster. August 15, 2015 FCW.COM 11 0815fcw_011.indd 11 7/27/15 2:47 PM
July 30, 2015
August 30, 2015