There is a breath-taking pace of change running through all aspects of business and technology. As hard as it may sometimes feel to keep up with it all, there’s no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. If anything, things are only going to become increasingly intense.
Being able to respond to change effectively and efficiently is beyond the scope of many legacy approaches to development and deployment. Newer approaches, such as ‘DevOps’, which put agility at the heart of everything, can revolutionise the way innovation and improvement take place across organisations.
DevOps – a word formed from the combination of development and operations – is the interface between development and IT operations, and ensures that these two business units communicate and collaborate so that new products and services are rolled out faster and more smoothly.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is working with Virgin Atlantic Airways, one of the world’s leading airline brands, to help introduce the concept of DevOps to the wider organisation and explain how new approaches can deliver great outcomes.
This will help to establish a wider understanding of what DevOps is, getting away from the idea of it being purely about the tools and technology, and putting people, culture, and collaboration at the center.
Bradley Rees, DevOps Technical Lead and Coach at TCS, explains how getting away from the common misconception that DevOps is a technology issue is fundamental: “The tools and technology are important, of course. They’re what make the outputs possible. But when working with businesses like Virgin Atlantic to introduce the concept of DevOps, we aim to get everyone involved.
“From finance to operations, right across the business – we want everyone to see the importance of coming together. We run a great series of workshops where we give teams of people hands-on tasks to complete. Throughout the session we change lots of the factors affecting how they’re working together, so they can start to see how the concepts of DevOps and continuous delivery work and what it can mean to their part of the organisation,” he says.
Nic Whittaker, Head of Platform Engineering and DevOps at Virgin Atlantic, also believes the interactions, behaviours and collaboration between people are key to understanding DevOps: “I think it’s important to give as many people as possible exposure to ideas like agility, so they can start thinking about how these ways of working could potentially improve their team’s performance,” he explains.
“The workshops with TCS are a really engaging way of doing this, as we get people working with chocolate and with Lego – it makes it more approachable and easier to get to grips with.”
In no small part, much of the pressure for change is being driven by customers. In particular by evolving customer expectations. Which is precisely how it should be; businesses ought to be seeking to keep up with the needs of their customers, working hard to delight them at every turn.
Increasingly, customers expect to be able to operate in a 24/7, omnichannel world. They want easy to use, frictionless apps and platforms that allow them to buy, sell, browse, share, and transact anywhere and at any time. And they expect the same levels of service and experience whether they’re on your website, in your store or office, or using your app. They want a seamless, omnichannel experience, with an abundance of value and excellence visible at the point of origin, all the way through to delivery – whether you’re a bank, a retailer, an insurance provider or an airline. But if these products and services fail to innovate they are likely to falter, sooner or later.
To win in this era of high-pace, high-stakes, customer-driven change the successful business puts speed, quality, and innovation at the top of its list of priorities, then investigates the necessary internal process changes needed to bring DevOps to life.
Unblocking the bottlenecks
The premise of DevOps is that it will enable an organisation to respond more quickly and more effectively to change. But those responses need to be carefully aligned with the overall goals of the business. That calls for separate line-of-business teams, quality assurance, delivery and operations to collaborate productively. Teams left to work in silos may deliver work that might be perfectly adequate in many respects, but which fails to contribute to the wider business needs.
Larger organisations may find the idea of agility appealing in theory, but while they understand the importance of continuous, high volume, top-quality production releases, they may also feel constrained by legacy architecture and processes. Much of that legacy may have grown in line with a particular ecosystem or to cater to the needs of market regulation. But it should not be left to become bottlenecks to progress.
This is why it’s so important to ensure a whole organisation is exposed to DevOps thinking, so that every aspect of the business can be refreshed and reenergized where appropriate and necessary.