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While the benefits are many, the DevOps journey for an established organization can be filled with surprises and challenges

Seven Steps to Successful and Sustainable DevOps Transformation

While the benefits are many, the DevOps journey for an established organization can be a long one filled with surprises and challenges. To avoid as many of both as possible, learning from those who have gone before you can help you apply best practices to ensure a smoother path to success. As a result, in this article, I will outline the seven steps to a DevOps transformation as learned through working hands-on with more than 100 leading enterprise organizations to establish and sustain successful DevOps and IT modernization.

Step One: Exploration
The first step is to have a clear understanding of your starting point before you even begin your journey. At this stage, successful organizations raise their situational awareness through better logging and monitoring of their current processes.

The next step is to define your end business goal, i.e., know what you want to achieve from your DevOps transformation. Many organizations feel pressure to transform without a specific end-goal in mind. If this describes your business, I would encourage you to set aside your fear of missing out and instead inspect the following list of common business drivers to see which might benefit you most:

  • Reduce time-to-market
  • Reduce maintenance
  • Increase Information Security
  • Reduce cost of infrastructure
  • Eliminate downtime
  • Increase scalability
  • Increase global reach

With a goal in mind, you will be able to examine the business impact ! both positive and negative - on potential technology decisions, which will act as a guiding principle. With answers to these questions in hand, you should then choose a pilot and build a roadmap.

Step Two: Choose a Pilot
When starting on a journey, the first steps must be impactful but small. Impactful is critical because it creates something that has business value and gets the attention you want this first project to achieve. For example, building a best-practices network architecture may seem to be an obvious starting point but it's not impactful by itself as it does not add business value. It is analogous to building an airport without having any planes to land. You need the planes to demonstrate the value. Small is important because quick wins lead to the buildup of momentum internally. Large, complex pilots face more resistance and can cause the initiative to lose momentum.

When choosing an impactful pilot, the selection criteria for the pilot should tie into the motivation you have for deploying DevOps. For example, if your motivation is to reduce time-to-market, a project with a tight deadline that can't be met in a traditional framework will prove to be a good pilot. If your motivation is to improve security, a project that enables a previously unattainable security posture (e.g., PCI compliance) can make for a powerful pilot.

Once you have identified a set of candidate pilot applications that can be impactful in the right direction, the next step is to scope the pilot project such that it is small and attainable in a short period of time. While DevOps has many elements, it's not necessary to implement all of them in the pilot. In fact, our experience is that it is best not to implement more than three or four concepts in the pilot. Which concepts get priority should stem from the motivation you laid out in step one.

Following the selection of your pilot, you'll want to blueprint the desired state; out of which should come a detailed sprint plan for execution. With a blueprint and sprint plan in hand, teams can begin building their pilot DevOps architecture.

At Flux7 we have built an Enterprise DevOps Framework, or EDF, (seen here) which calls out the technology that should be included in every DevOps blueprint. Think of it as building an execution engine to operationalize your pilot - and future infrastructure.

This DevOps Framework differs from a traditional development and IT framework, calling on developers to accumulate everything needed for a service to execute, and the IT team responsible for assembling and managing service-agnostic landing zones for these services. Traditional tasks like QA are automated with Inspectors (automated tools to monitor services) and service information that may have been previously manually added is now automatically added via Injectors (e.g., secrets management).

Step Three: Design a Solution
Implementation of this framework and the deployment of your pilot requires people, process, and technology. We will address the people in the next step, but process and technology must be defined up front, but only for the pilot.

A critical next step is tool rationalization. To implement the components from the EDF, we typically refer to the tools we call the 4Cs - Cloud, Containers, Configuration Management, and Continuous Integration/Delivery. Each of these ‘Cs' helps formulate the components in EDF, e.g., CI/CD of code is a part of pipelines. Cloud provides services that allow for the creation of a landing zone, automated infrastructure provisioning through infrastructure as code, and services to inspect the infrastructure. Containers provide a powerful way to package services in a service-agnostic manner and makes it easy to land them in a Landing Zone. With a strong foundation in these elements, teams will be able to begin extending their infrastructure and DevOps culture.

As an example, in its move to DevOps, Rent-A-Center initiated a pilot based around a partner ecommerce portal. Their motivation was to reduce time-to-market and maintenance costs. For it, they created an infrastructure that used the AWS Cloud to provide infrastructure as code, Docker for containers, Ansible for Config management, and Jenkins for CI/CD. This pilot has served as a template around which they have extended their DevOps technology, processes and team culture.

Step Four: Build COE
DevOps is not only a technology and process transformation, but it's also a cultural transformation, changing how technology teams in the business operate. As a result, having an internal Center of Excellence (COE) is a key to long-term success. A COE should be a small team hand-picked to build the foundation for the DevOps transition and instill DevOps knowledge into the company.

Moreover, the COE is responsible for teaching others in the organization how the new enterprise DevOps framework works. For example, equipping developers with the new knowledge to assemble everything they need to deliver a service - from code and configuration, to libraries and pipeline definitions.

Organizations that begin their COE with a small team of DevOps engineers are most successful. Take for example the case of Verifone, which needed to ensure development, was able to deliver high quality, secure solutions against tight deadlines. In its transformation, it built a COE from a small team of dedicated DevOps engineers who oversaw the unprecedented launch of a brand new line of business in less than one year due to its success in navigating the DevOps journey.

Step Five: CoE Summit
At this stage, CoE organizations should begin evangelizing their success and should ensure they present the concepts and key skills needed for ongoing success to relevant technology teams. One tactic many successful organizations take at this phase is to hold a CoE Summit where they evangelize the importance of and make sure to pass along the important skills needed to support the new infrastructure, applications and culture. Through a summit, these organizations enable change through collaboration and facilitating discussion across key stakeholder groups including executives, operations, development, lines of businesses and other functional leaders to air concerns, establish options, agree on a strategy and manage culture change.

Step Six: COE Helps Dev and IT
This next phase begins the effective transfer of knowledge from the COE to broader development and IT teams. Learnings from successful organizations tell us that knowledge transfer at the end of each sprint is an effective strategy, instilling necessary skills for these teams to manage and expand on the infrastructure moving forward. For example, it is at this stage that the COE should be training IT to effectively manage landing zones.

A large manufacturing organization created a dedicated team, which it called the Cloud-Crafter Team, responsible for hand-holding development and IT in the initial sprints of its DevOps transformation. The team created a development factory based on self-service elements, such as a service catalog, from where development and IT could begin participating in the DevOps transformation.

Step Seven: Modernization
These six steps culminate here with IT modernization. A virtuous cycle of constant learning should be adopted to ensure ongoing success. Just as technology constantly changes and advances, so too must your COE and broader organization. Effective COEs work on the leading edge, leveling up their best practices and tooling when advantageous to ensure the business maintains its modernized architecture and culture.

Having built a business case for DevOps within the organization, effectively piloting it and building a COE for knowledge transfer and ongoing learning and improvement, the organization has established the fundamental steps for ensuring a successful DevOps transformation. Now, this success can be scaled. Whether to new initiatives or other parts of the company, the organization has created a template for successful and sustainable DevOps transformation.

For established enterprises, DevOps transformation may seem daunting. However, organizations can adopt DevOps rapidly by following these seven steps. Effective assessment, solid pilots built on strong foundational technologies and a core COE that spearheads training and ongoing improvement is a time-tested formula for sustained success.

@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, and is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.

DevOps at Cloud Expo / @ThingsExpo 2017 New York 
(June 6-8, 2017, Javits Center, Manhattan)

DevOps at Cloud Expo / @ThingsExpo 2017 Silicon Valley
(October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA)

Download Show Prospectus ▸ Here

The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.

@DevOpsSummit will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide sharing of knowledge, and educate delegates and technology providers alike. Recent research has shown that DevOps dramatically reduces development time, the amount of enterprise IT professionals put out fires, and support time generally. Time spent on infrastructure development is significantly increased, and DevOps practitioners report more software releases and higher quality. Sponsors of @DevOpsSummit will benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities through:

  • Featured on-site presentation and ongoing on-demand webcast exposure to a captive audience of industry decision-makers.
  • Showcase exhibition during our new extended dedicated expo hours
  • Breakout Session Priority scheduling for Sponsors that have been guaranteed a 35-minute technical session
  • Online advertising in SYS-CON's i-Technology Publications
  • Capitalize on our Comprehensive Marketing efforts leading up to the show with print mailings, e-newsletters and extensive online media coverage.
  • Unprecedented PR Coverage: Editorial Coverage on DevOps Journal
  • Tweetup to over 75,000 plus followers
  • Press releases sent on major wire services to over 500 industry analysts.

For more information on sponsorship, exhibit, and keynote opportunities, contact Carmen Gonzalez by email at events (at) sys-con.com, or by phone 201 802-3021.

The World's Largest "Cloud Digital Transformation" Event

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2017 New York 
(June 6-8, 2017, Javits Center, Manhattan)

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2017 Silicon Valley
(Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA)

Full Conference Registration Gold Pass and Exhibit Hall ▸ Here

Register For @CloudExpo ▸ Here via EventBrite

Register For @ThingsExpo ▸ Here via EventBrite

Register For @DevOpsSummit ▸ Here via EventBrite

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsors of Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo will benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities through:

  • Featured on-site presentation and ongoing on-demand webcast exposure to a captive audience of industry decision-makers
  • Showcase exhibition during our new extended dedicated expo hours
  • Breakout Session Priority scheduling for Sponsors that have been guaranteed a 35 minute technical session
  • Online targeted advertising in SYS-CON's i-Technology Publications
  • Capitalize on our Comprehensive Marketing efforts leading up to the show with print mailings, e-newsletters and extensive online media coverage
  • Unprecedented Marketing Coverage: Editorial Coverage on ITweetup to over 100,000 plus followers, press releases sent on major wire services to over 500 industry analysts

For more information on sponsorship, exhibit, and keynote opportunities, contact Carmen Gonzalez (@GonzalezCarmen) today by email at events (at) sys-con.com, or by phone 201 802-3021.

Secrets of Sponsors and Exhibitors ▸ Here
Secrets of Cloud Expo Speakers ▸ Here

All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.

With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo@ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.

Track 1. FinTech
Track 2. Enterprise Cloud | Digital Transformation
Track 3. DevOps, Containers & Microservices 
Track 4. Big Data | Analytics
Track 5. Industrial IoT
Track 6. IoT Dev & Deploy | Mobility
Track 7. APIs | Cloud Security
Track 8. AI | ML | DL | Cognitive Computing

Delegates to Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo will be able to attend 8 simultaneous, information-packed education tracks.

There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content.

Join Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA for three days of intense Enterprise Cloud and 'Digital Transformation' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indispensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and (IIoT) Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) Digital Transformation in Vertical Markets.

Financial Technology - or FinTech - Is Now Part of the @CloudExpo Program!

Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech, which will incorporate machine learning, artificial intelligence, deep learning, and blockchain into one track.

Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expensive intermediate processes from their businesses.

FinTech brings efficiency as well as the ability to deliver new services and a much improved customer experience throughout the global financial services industry. FinTech is a natural fit with cloud computing, as new services are quickly developed, deployed, and scaled on public, private, and hybrid clouds.

More than US$20 billion in venture capital is being invested in FinTech this year. @CloudExpo is pleased to bring you the latest FinTech developments as an integral part of our program, starting at the 20th International Cloud Expo June 6-8, 2017 in New York City and October 31 - November 2, 2017 in Silicon Valley.

@CloudExpo is accepting submissions for this new track, so please visit www.CloudComputingExpo.com for the latest information.

Speaking Opportunities

The upcoming 20th International @CloudExpo@ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA announces that its Call For Papers for speaking opportunities is open.

Submit your speaking proposal today! ▸ Here

Our Top 100 Sponsors and the Leading "Digital Transformation" Companies

(ISC)2, 24Notion (Bronze Sponsor), 910Telecom, Accelertite (Gold Sponsor), Addteq, Adobe (Bronze Sponsor), Aeroybyte, Alert Logic, Anexia, AppNeta, Avere Systems, BMC Software (Silver Sponsor), Bsquare Corporation (Silver Sponsor), BZ Media (Media Sponsor), Catchpoint Systems (Silver Sponsor), CDS Global Cloud, Cemware, Chetu Inc., China Unicom, Cloud Raxak, CloudBerry (Media Sponsor), Cloudbric, Coalfire Systems, CollabNet, Inc. (Silver Sponsor), Column Technologies, Commvault (Bronze Sponsor), Connect2.me, ContentMX (Bronze Sponsor), CrowdReviews (Media Sponsor) CyberTrend (Media Sponsor), DataCenterDynamics (Media Sponsor), Delaplex, DICE (Bronze Sponsor), EastBanc Technologies, eCube Systems, Embotics, Enzu Inc., Ericsson (Gold Sponsor), FalconStor, Formation Data Systems, Fusion, Hanu Software, HGST, Inc. (Bronze Sponsor), Hitrons Solutions, IBM BlueBox, IBM Bluemix, IBM Cloud (Platinum Sponsor), IBM Cloud Data Services/Cloudant (Platinum Sponsor), IBM DevOps (Platinum Sponsor), iDevices, Industrial Internet of Things Consortium (Association Sponsor), Impinger Technologies, Interface Masters, Intel (Keynote Sponsor), Interoute (Bronze Sponsor), IQP Corporation, Isomorphic Software, Japan IoT Consortium, Kintone Corporation (Bronze Sponsor), LeaseWeb USA, LinearHub, MangoApps, MathFreeOn, Men & Mice, MobiDev, New Relic, Inc. (Bronze Sponsor), New York Times, Niagara Networks, Numerex, NVIDIA Corporation (AI Session Sponsor), Object Management Group (Association Sponsor), On The Avenue Marketing, Oracle MySQL, Peak10, Inc., Penta Security, Plasma Corporation, Pulzze Systems, Pythian (Bronze Sponsor), Cosmos, RackN, ReadyTalk (Silver Sponsor), Roma Software, Roundee.io, Secure Channels Inc., SD Times (Media Sponsor), SoftLayer (Platinum Sponsor), SoftNet Solutions, Solinea Inc., SpeedyCloud, SSLGURU LLC, StarNet, Stratoscale, Streamliner, SuperAdmins, TechTarget (Media Sponsor), TelecomReseller (Media Sponsor), Tintri (Welcome Reception Sponsor), TMCnet (Media Sponsor), Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium, Veeam, Venafi, Violin Memory, VAI Software, Zerto

About SYS-CON Media & Events
SYS-CON Media (www.sys-con.com) has since 1994 been connecting technology companies and customers through a comprehensive content stream - featuring over forty focused subject areas, from Cloud Computing to Web Security - interwoven with market-leading full-scale conferences produced by SYS-CON Events. The company's internationally recognized brands include among others Cloud Expo® (@CloudExpo), Big Data Expo® (@BigDataExpo), DevOps Summit (@DevOpsSummit), @ThingsExpo® (@ThingsExpo), Containers Expo (@ContainersExpo) and Microservices Expo (@MicroservicesE).

Cloud Expo®, Big Data Expo® and @ThingsExpo® are registered trademarks of Cloud Expo, Inc., a SYS-CON Events company.

More Stories By Aater Suleman

Aater Suleman, PhD, is CEO and Co-Founder at Flux7, an award-winning Austin-based IT consulting company recognized by AWS for its expertise in DevOps. Contact Aater on LinkedIn, at www.Flux7.com and Twitter: @futurechips

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