Devops: changing face of development
The DevOps approach to software development aims to create a close alignment between IT operations and development teams, and foster a culture that balances the agile, fast and flexible approach of developers with the secure and stable demands of operations
The methodology of ‘DevOps’ — combining development and IT operations into a closely aligned, fast-moving, application producing machine — has gained a lot of attention in recent years, but new research from CA Technologies shows that the Middle East may be lagging behind in adopting this new approach to software development.
DevOps emphasizes a strong integration between the software development and IT operations teams in an organisation, to improve time to market, decrease risk, and reduce operating expenses in creating and releasing new applications and services. The approach, which has its roots in Agile software development, also aims to shift from big, standalone development projects, to a more services-based approach. By closely aligning the two halves of Dev and Ops, and balancing their respective requirements and cultures, organisations aim to launch new services more quickly, while maximizing the predictability, efficiency, security and maintainability of operational processes.
While the approach is still gaining traction in the most developed markets, it is still in its early stages in the region. A study conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of CA Technologies, found that from 50 senior IT decision makers in large organisations in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, only 22% had already implemented DevOps, while one quarter claimed not to know what DevOps is. Thirty-two percent of respondents planned to adopt in future.
The study, which surveyed 25 respondents in each country, across organisations with a revenue of $1 billion, operating in a range of verticals, found that while two thirds of respondents (64%) thought there was a greater need for DevOps than before, there is still a very wide range of approaches adoption and investment in switching to a DevOps approach.
Simon Poulton, Application Delivery and Mobility Business Lead, EMEA Emerging Markets, CA Technologies commented: “Awareness of DevOps and intention to act are certainly not as high as areas such as western Europe or South Africa where the maturity is very high, however when you consider that over half of the organisations we surveyed either have a DevOps strategy in place, or are actively engaged in deploying such a strategy then you can see that the momentum is there. In some parts of the world the response we find is that over 95% of organisations already have or will deploy a DevOps strategy.
Poulton said that the region may lag because of a delay in organisations transforming their application environments to SOA, which, while SOA is not a pre-requisite for DevOps approach, the pressures SOA creates, such as the need for frequent, small, agile changes to applications, are relieved by a DevOps approach. The high penetration of outsourced application development in the region may also mean that many organisations are already tapping DevOps through their outsourcing partners.
“Ultimately we’ve seen in other regions that the influence of multinationals with a global DevOps approach will influence the regional discussions and trends, so given the existing majority are taking this approach we fully expect that the snowball is well and truly on it’s way down the slope. As with many other IT trends, the Middle East will swing later, but faster,” he said.
Organisations responding to the survey cited a number of different drivers for DevOps adoption, which could also suggest a lack of clarity over DevOps, Poulton said. The DevOps movement has grown organically, he added, which may mean the need for more education and discussion on the topic in the region.
“If we look at how this has evolved elsewhere — Europe, the US — DevOps has, and continues to be a revolution led from the trenches. Despite vendor specific approaches, one of the keys to the movement is education via discussion, local chapter creation and groups online discussing their approach between organisations. This is why DevOps has become such an organic term and adaptable to all organisations large and small. We are looking to help lead this in the region as we believe the value of community projects is significantly higher than those which are driven in isolation,” he said.
Of the survey respondents, on average, each respondent gave three different driving forces behind the increased need for DevOps. There was no majority answer, but the need to develop and deploy cloud-based apps, greater internal collaboration, greater simultaneous platform deployment and an increasingly complex IT structure were cited by over two fifths of respondents.
The importance of DevOps to the cloud can be seen by the fact that leaders in cloud applications and technology, including Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix and so on, have all taken a thorough DevOps approach from the ground up.