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Microservices Expo: Article

Measuring the Positive Impact of Devops

Linking collaboration to business agility and outcomes

Fostering application collaboration between development and operations should be a cornerstone any business agility strategy.  The amount of rework developers have to do to fix deployment rollbacks and application performance problems determines the upper limit on business agility.  The more deployment and production problems your developers must fix the less time they have to  develop new applications.

One way to drive down the amount of developer rework is to improve how applications are designed and engineered for the production environment.  This improvement is also a key motivation driving the culture of collaboration that permeates the devops movement.

But how do we measure the benefit of that devops collaboration?  More specifically how do we measure the devops benefit in terms of business agility and business outcomes?

These measurement questions are important, particularly in large enterprises, because professionals who want to continue their employment hone their skills to exceed the metrics on which they are judged.   If enterprise developers get bonuses based on delivery speed then they'll find all sorts of short cuts to deliver the code faster.  If they get rewarded for code reuse then they are going to get really good at code reuse. So it follows that if enterprises want to implement more application changes faster without sacrificing the performance or quality then they must use operational and collaborative metrics to reward their developers.

The same is true for operations teams charged with deployment and problem management that are rewarded solely on change process cycle-times or mean-time-to-repair.  Without some metrics related to business agility, they have little incentive to hone their collaborative, devops skills.

The problem I see with many current measures of business agility and application delivery is that they fail to capture the positive impact of collaborative devops behavior. While, it is possible for a solely grass-roots movement to grows strong enough to overcome organization silos and disincentives, it is a much easier journey when technology executives can lead support with a metric-based reward system. Without some metrics to prove the positive impact, technology executives trying to encourage devops in very slioed organizations are in for a long hard journey.   Smoothing the road starts with some critical thinking about how to:

  • Incorporate operational considerations into how business outcomes and business agility are measured.
  • Use that expanded set of business outcome and agility metrics to reward different software design choices and solution options.
  • Use that expanded set of business outcome and agility metrics to reward effective collaboration between development and operations teams.

More Stories By Jasmine Noel

Jasmine Noel is a founding partner of Ptak, Noel & Associates. She has over 15 years experience analyzing and consulting on IT management issues. She currently focuses on technologies and processes that organizations require to design, engineer and manage the performance and service quality of business applications, workloads and services. Noel served previously as director of systems and applications management at Hurwitz Group, where she formulated and managed the company’s research agenda. She was also a senior analyst at D.H. Brown Associates, where her responsibilities included technology trend analysis in the network and systems management space. Noel is regularly quoted in and contributed articles to several leading publications and content portals on various IT management topics. She holds a bachelor of science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master of science from the University of Southern California.

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