The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

What's this thing called DevOps?

During a conversation last week with a Forrester senior analyst (Dave West) from the UK, I learned about a new term and a new industry "movement" - DevOps.  He said that there has been recent interest in this topic which combines, both literally and figuratively, the terms "developer" and "operations".  So of course when our call ended, I did some searching on the term and learned that there is indeed a fledgling "DevOps" community of developers and sysadmins who have recognized - as many of us - that applications should get built with full knowledge of the operational environment in which they will run. This group of primarily UK/Northern European IT professionals has collaborated on recommendations to remove some of the silos between those who build and those who run applications. This represents a cultural change as much as a need for integrated teams and processes. Two years ago in this space I spoke of the need for developers to use ITIL practices "to understand the real impact of new applications on the run-time environment and how they need to be designed differently for the complex, distributed environments we have today".  Perhaps not much has really changed, but at least the conversation has broadened.

The DevOps community sees agile and lean teams better suited to collaborate and drive DevOps thinking because of their matrixed approach, but I don't see why two-way communication, which is both the bridge needed and the current barrier, should be limited to small teams. We need to see push and pull of information equally from both developers and operations.  Silos within the IT organization or even when traditional outsourcing and multi-vendor partners are engaged are challenges but not insurmountable. 

Just as one example, when developing a web application I really do need to understand the capacity (network, servers, storage, database) of the current run-time environment as well as the security levels, and I need to work with both sysadmins and service management personnel to have them understand the service level, security and run-time requirements, work out conflicts, and also engage them as necessary for integration and other testing. EDS had the right idea with an initiative called Designed for RunTM that has continued to evolve towards what I believe the DevOps folks envisage, but there is still work to be done.

I do really agree with the recommendations of the DevOps gang that a multi-disciplinary approach must be taken between developers, testers, change and release management, and operations engineering groups such as system administrators and those who manage system capacity and availability. They suggest that team members might gain expertise across the divide.  Understanding the best practices from both CMMI and ITIL would help, as well as having the IT skills and experience to go along with them.  I've studied this "CMMI & ITIL" process integration area fairly deeply and have spoken at several conferences on the need for integrated application development, service management and infrastructure engineering processes. Drop me a line if you would like to discuss further or pick up a presentation. 

IT Outsourcing: Single source or multi-sourcing??

As the economy improves, I see an emerging
trend in outsourcing business

  • Smaller deal size - from billions to millions

  • Shorter duration - from 7-10 years to 3-5 years

  • Functional/niche areas versus the complete

  • From "Outsourcing
    single source deal to Multi-sourcing

  • Client playing the "integrator" role

What I do not see is the reduction cost in responding to an
RFP or the time a client takes to make final decision!

The shorter, lower value outsourcing deals, and, at times in
the industry verticals or niche areas, open up doors for smaller suppliers
including low cost Indian competitors like Wipro, Infosys, and TCS are  creating a different level of competition
giving customers more leverage. As the cost pressure increases, I see large US
companies will focus on reducing costs by developing products in niches
specialties, and shifting work to lower cost onshore regions & other
countries. Large players seriously exploring the option of acquiring niche
players for increased speed to market. And that's not forgetting about the low
cost offshore competitors will expand their onshore capabilities &
resources - Indian
players, Infosys, Vipro and TCS have begun adding local staff in the Americas
and Europe to support this trend.

As the client opts for number of smaller, short
duration deals with number of suppliers, governance and end-to-end integration
will play key role to achieve the overall business value.


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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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