Using DevOps to Win With IT

Peter Jobst, DevOps Consultant and Author
12/02/2015, 02:58pm

There’s a lot of talk these days about the ‘new concept’ of DevOps. When applied to IT, in particular, it can be a remarkable way to revolutionize your business. DevOps is a new way of thinking – it’s a method of planning, managing and executing workflow in the most efficient way possible.

In the past, I’ve seen that businesses fall into one of two distinct mindsets when it comes to IT. One includes IT as a valuable resource, and the other counts IT as a necessary expense. The first are the companies filled with forward thinkers. They tend to be more progressive and have a clear understanding of the value that IT provides. By applying DevOps concepts, you can systematically improve your business’s efficiency, become more resilient, and exponentially increase the speed at which you can deliver your products and services to market or to your clients and customers. This outlook is one that gives the forward-thinkers an advantage over their competitors.

The second are more old-fashioned companies, who have a difficult time understanding that investing in IT will help their businesses grow at a continuous and sustainable rate. These businesses are often plagued with unexpected challenges such as outages, loss of data, and increases in costs associated with recovery and rework, not to mention failing to deliver to customers on time or on budget.

In order to for a business to function at its most productive, IT must be looked to as the innovator. This is why I’m a huge advocate of using DevOps. To put it simply, your IT department can now help your business improve overall, including increasing your bottom line, extending your longevity, and creating a happier, more productive workplace.


So What is DevOps?

According to software analytics company New Relic, the definition for DevOps is “born of the need to improve IT service, delivery and agility. The DevOps movement emphasizes communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and IT operations. Rather than seeing these two groups as silos who pass things along but don’t really work together, DevOps recognizes the interdependence of software development and IT operations, and helps an organization produce software and IT services more rapidly, with frequent iterations.”

My definition of DevOps is: “DevOps is a method of thinking taken from the Toyota Production System and LEAN, that when applied to IT Development and Operations can dramatically impact productivity. DevOps is a practice of that views IT development and operations as similar to a production line, where you are monitoring work in progress, identifying constraints and employing automation to continuously improve the flow from development into operations.”


Kanban: A Roadmap to Efficiency -

There are many concepts associated with DevOps, however one of my favorites is Kanban. In Japanese, the word kanban roughly means “card you can see.”  In DevOps, Kanban is a visual signal that’s used to trigger an action.

The idea of using visual tracking is immensely useful for IT departments. Kanban, which can also be called “just in time pull signalling” in the IT world, is a means of using ticketing systems and Kanban boards to see progress of projects and tasks in real time. This means, anyone, techie or not, can glance at the Kanban board and have an understanding of current status of workflow.

The Kanban board is a simple grid that has columns and lanes with tasks in them. The tasks should always move from left to right, going from work-in-cue to work-in-progress to work completed. If you are working on a Kanban board and ever find yourself moving to the opposite direction, from left you are experiencing Muda (waste or rework). Visually seeing this reduces this occurrence, thus saving time and money.

Once you are using a Kanban board to literally see your workflow, you will understand that DevOps is a smarter way of thinking. It is also one simple example of how your IT department can help you grow, thrive and transform your business!  




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