Doing more with less remains a fact of life for government agencies in an era of continuing budget cuts and fewer employees. As organizations seek the most cost-effective yet efficient way to deliver meaningful services to constituents, part of a recipe for success will hinge upon how well IT operations adapt to this environment.
“I look at the budget challenges we have today as a change agent for the government,” Keith Trippie, executive director for enterprise system development at Department of Homeland Security, said in a GovDataDownload interview late last year.
Trippie believes this atmosphere will force agencies to innovate more quickly than ever. “It’s part of the healthy IT diet where we’re looking at DevOps, we’re looking at continuous assurance on the security side, (and) we’re looking at cloud and commodity IT to enable services that used to take a long time to do. And now our time-to-value for citizens I think is going to be cut significantly which in essence is going to provide better value to our customers.”
Few doubt DevOps is poised to play a significant role in the changing face of IT. This process aims to help foster tighter collaboration between the teams that create and test applications with those that maintain them in production environments.
Such a methodology combines what used to be the separate and sequential processes of development and operations into a continuous process of understanding a market need, refining an application or service to meet that need, and testing and deploying the solution. Ultimately key IT trends – people, processes and technology – are addressed through such an approach.
Research commissioned last year by CA Technologies found the results from implementing a DevOps strategy in an enterprise environment are real and quantifiable yielding a 17 to 23 percent improvement in key business metrics such as revenue, time-to-market and new customer acquisition.
Agencies face many similar pressures with a number of issues driving DevOps including the need for simultaneous deployment across different platforms, the need to improve the end customer experience, and increased use of mobile devices.
The CA Technologies study notes several key components are critical to DevOps such as IT automation, agile development and collaborative teaming between development and ops. But success with DevOps requires more than just technical skills. Organizations must have a solid understanding of priorities, strategies and metrics; a knowledge of processes; and, solid communication skills.
Agencies, however, must avoid becoming their own worst enemy in order for DevOps to fully blossom. By designating a DevOps evangelist, or appointing DevOps-focused team members from each required domain and streamlining processes to incorporate input across all major stakeholders, agencies can begin to quickly realize the benefits of DevOps.
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