How SMEs can benefit from DevOps tools and culture

With the fourth industrial revolution, the explosion of data is disrupting conventional business models and the way technology impacts the decision making process of people. As digital transformation brings the complexities of new IT developments, more and more organisations are realising the importance of collaborating through data.

The challenge for SMEs is finding the right technology and processes to achieve just that. By promoting and implementing a DevOps culture across a SME’s business, the developers and operational teams align more closely and can better share in-between knowledge. Traditionally the domain of the IT team, its benefits from a business perspective may be unclear. In this article, we’ll unpack DevOps and why it’s more accessible for SMEs than it might seem.

Backing DevOps processes with data

DevOps, based on ideas around measurement and sharing, is becoming mainstream. Companies are looking to scale their DevOps “culture” beyond IT operations, to reach across their entire business. While maintaining its core principles – agility, speed, velocity and quality – businesses are taking the next step by implementing a data-first process. For example, when a company puts out a new feature on its website or mobile app, no one knows how the features are being used or what aspect of the feature is garnering interest.

The challenge is that some developers and operations get “lost in translation” where developers have one set of tools and languages, and operations teams are using entirely different approach. Using insights from data to drive DevOps decisions provides a common ground so organisations can achieve greater visibility, faster, and with better results.

MindTouch, the provider of cloud-based customer success software, is a good example of a medium-sized company using a data-driven DevOps strategy to provide a seamless user experience. It uses a DevOps team to ensure the performance of its software as a service (SaaS) solution, which resides on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. The team combines software development with IT operations for an integrated approach to updating and delivering applications quickly. If there is a customer service issue, Dev and Ops team members collaborate to quickly identify the problem by correlating logs across different data sources. DevOps teams also view historical data to determine trendlines and proactively address potential problems.

Breaking down IT complexity with DevOps

DevOps is the collaborative workplace for IT – it breaks down the silo between developers and operational teams. The next step is ensuring that DevOps and the rest of the organisation align on delivering critical services that sustain business outcomes. To properly achieve this, employees must feel empowered and enabled.

Whether you’re an employee or a manager, working with your team is critical because you each bring a different perspective to how the business operates. Sharing information between teams empowers people to make their own decisions. Developers understand the impact of those decisions and they know what’s important for their business. Team members must have accountability with each other: “Why did I choose that? Was it the wrong decision?” These ideas coming together change the way people cooperate.

As we’re entering a new era where a shift in collaboration is critical to success, the driving force behind this isn’t only a shift in workflow, but a shift in mindset. Data is the key to unlocking a common DevOps language, to foster collaboration between tools and people. Now is the time to ensure your SME is well positioned to architect an agile and reliable DevOps strategy.

Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate, Splunk

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