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Positive Impacts of DevOps, CI/CD, AWS/MS Azure on Digital Transformation

Positive Impacts of DevOps, CI/CD, AWS/MS Azure on Digital Transformation

The success of today’s technology companies depends on their ability to quickly offer new products that are of considerable value to customers. “But we know it’s hard to deliver consistently positive results in an uncertain and continually shifting global marketplace,” says Mark Langley, president and CEO of the Project Management Institute. In a world in which customers are always demanding products or services that are not only cheaper but also better than what competitors are offering, forward-thinking businesses cannot afford to be complacent about growth. Rather than trying to maintain the status quo, brands need to constantly sense new opportunities to retain or expand their market share.

However, according to Professor of Family Business and Entrepreneurship Peter Vogel, the identification of business opportunities alone does not translate into business success.  In his words, “ideas are not the same as opportunities.” Most technology startup leaders have remarkable IT ideas that can disrupt the market, but they lack the financial resources to accelerate their software development life cycle faster than competitors. While some tech companies have the financial power to finance their supposedly game-changing projects, they hardly have all the tools to automate and digitize their workflows and infrastructure on a large scale.

So, how can enterprises achieve digital perfection or achieve greater software efficiencies? The answer is simple. It is by adopting DevOps, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft (MS) Azure. With DevOps, CI/CD, AWS, and MS Azure, tech startups can quickly scale up their businesses and compete with rivals monopolizing market share.

Meaning of DevOps

DevOps has become a household name in the software development industry ever since Patrick Debois mentioned the word in 2009 in a conference held in Ghent, Belgium. Yet this term means different things to different individuals, admitted Scott Carey in his interview with Gene Kim, the former CTO of Tripwire. Some people understand DevOps as the combined use of Git, Gradle, Selenium, Jenkins, Nagios, Docker and other software tools to build, improve and automate IT operations. However, some folks regard DevOps as an advanced agile methodology in which IT projects are broken down into several iterations. Such views, though compelling, do not provide a full picture of the meaning of DevOps.

DevOps involves a series of steps, but it is not complicated as many people think. In simple terms, DevOps can be defined as a collaborative culture characterized by the use of software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) practices to achieve business goals. This cultural shift places much emphasis on shortening software lifecycle by shattering the wall of confusion that slows down the productivity of the software development team and the IT operations team. This is done through the continuous integration, continuous source code management, and continuous delivery.

On the surface, DevOps seems like an idea that was conceived in one fell swoop. But the idea did not come from one project management source. Many of the concepts fundamental to a DevOps culture are derived from or inspired by the Lean model, the Toyota approach, the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, and the Agile model. Without these practices, software engineers would still be in the lurch about how to enhance their productivity without compromising the quality of their software applications.

What are the differences between DevOps and CI/CD?

People often use DevOps and CI/CD interchangeably. This is probably because both methodologies are used simultaneously to make the building and deployment process of applications smoother, easier and quicker. Nonetheless, DevOps and CI/CD do not mean the same thing.

Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) are collections of software development practices used by software developers to build, test, and automate all software development steps. Teams also use CI/CD to revise their codes and fix coding errors continuously, thereby making the release of applications into the market less risky. Regardless, the main purpose of CI/CD – apart from creating a consistent way of building, automating, and testing applications –  is to accelerate the turn-around time for fixing bugs and releasing products into the market.

Asking about the difference between DevOps and CI/CD is like inquiring about the difference between an automobile factory and an assembly line. In other words, CI/CD is a subset of DevOps that emphasizes automation and code changes. CI/CD focuses on the process of integrating, revising, and automating codes, while DevOps encompasses CI/CD and other processes that require the collaboration of the IT operation team and software development team. However, just because a company is adopting a CI/CD approach does not mean it is using a DevOps model. In some cases, brands may adopt some DevOps practices while ignoring CI/CD approaches.

Positive impacts of DevOps and CI/CD on digital transformation

Digital transformation is key to leveraging untapped opportunities in emerging markets. According to Gartner, companies that embrace DevOps are more likely to succeed in meeting customers’ needs than those organizations that continue to rely on traditional project management methodologies. Of course, some business executives may disagree with the findings of this global research company. For those who are not yet convinced of the power of DevOps, read on to learn about how DevOps is currently transforming the digital landscape:

Collaboration

Building modern applications and releasing them into the market is highly tedious and laborious as many IT professionals are involved in the process. A little communication gap between the software development team and IT operations team can cause complications that may take days to fix. However, businesses that embrace DevOps get more work done within a short amount of time as the developers and professionals in the operation team are forced to work towards the same objectives throughout the stages of a software development project.

DevOps makes collaborative practices highly effective in that the software development team and the IT operations team have access to the same toolchains. This allows the software development teams and IT operations teams to collaborate at all stages of the software development project. Apart from encouraging cross-functional mode of working, a DevOps culture also makes it easy for all the teams to implement their shared objectives.

Agility

A DevOps culture makes enterprises’ IT operations more nimble and more efficient. It ensures that the building, testing, and deployment of software applications are continuously scalable. From the concept stage to the production stage, DevOps creates integrated delivery pipelines, which make the whole IT operations agile. 

Before the emergence of DevOps, software developers used the waterfall model in which the design, implementation, testing, and deployment of software applications are performed sequentially. Many people don’t like the waterfall approach because it is not flexible. With the waterfall model, once an application is in the testing or deployment phase, developers need to go through the entire source of the application to fix bugs. This sequential process is quite time-consuming for users. Unlike the traditional waterfall model, the DevOps model is not sequential but agile in that it allows revisions to be made at any stage of the software development life cycle.

Automation

All companies around the world want the same thing – to keep their customers happy. After all, the more they keep their customers happy, the more customers will use and pay for their products and services. Any IT company that is desirous of meeting customers’ needs on time need to improve their speed of delivery using automation. This goal can be achieved with DevOps.

Speed and rapid delivery are all the hallmarks of a DevOps model, and they are facilitated by automation. Recent findings in the “State of DevOps Report” indicate that IT organizations that adopt DevOps practices experience shorter lead times and increase their pace of releases than those leverage traditional project management approaches. This is not surprising as such organizations make use of DevOps tools such as Gradle, Puppet Enterprise, Grit, Jenkins, Docker, SeleniumHQ, CHEF, and Nagios, all of which automate infrastructure management and the deployment of applications.

Mean Time To Recover (MTTR)

Production failures are a common problem that software engineers experience when they are working on software application projects. Even though automation, standardization, and testing can reduce downtime, IT systems will still break down from time to time. To prepare for system glitches, most developers use MTTR, a metric for measuring the amount of time required to recover from production downtime incidents. The good news is that with DevOps, IT teams can reduce their MTTR or repair time by using Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure services.

Transitioning fully to DevOps

The adoption of DevOps requires a change in attitude and mindset. Traditional methods of storing and analyzing data need to be replaced with IT systems that increase efficiencies and improve the quality of software releases. Simply put, organizations interested in DevOps, regardless of their organizational structure, need to take advantage of AWS and MS Azure services.

What are MS Azure and AWS?

AWS and MS Azure are the world’s two leading global cloud computing platforms that offer on-demand delivery of IT resources. They two platforms provide more than 100 services that span across infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and software as a service. With massive data centers and servers scattered around the glove, they control more than 50% of the global cloud computing market share. As of today, more than 80% of the 500 Fortune companies employ either AWS or MS Azure services or both to manage and host their IT infrastructure through the Internet. Nevertheless, there is more to AWS and MS Azure than meets the eye.

Over the years, these two cloud computing platforms owned by Amazon and Microsoft have become a hit for a good reason. They are cost-effective. By adopting an as-needed pricing model, AWS and MS Azure have helped enterprises to fulfill their digital mandates at a fraction of the costs of buying hardware and building IT infrastructure from scratch.

How AWS and MS Azure are facilitating digital transformation

In the last two decades, cloud computing has rapidly transformed the IT landscape. A recent McKinney report warns that “Leaders need to accelerate their journey to the cloud in order to digitize quickly and effectively in the wake of COVID-19.” Thanks to the efforts of AWS and MS Azure, businesses can easily migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud. These two cloud computing platforms have no doubt made cloud computing so successful that DevOps-oriented people now think it is preposterous to own in-house servers and other computer resources. To understand their sentiments, here are how these two computing platforms are positively impacting digital transformation.

Machine learning

Machine learning is gradually shaping all cloud-based software applications. Over the years, Microsoft and Amazon have been rolling out new computing services to democratize artificial intelligence. These services allow massive amounts of data to be transformed and stored quickly on the cloud.

Even though the machine learning services provided by AWS and MS Azure are quite expensive, they have helped top brands to offload their workload. For instance, enterprises can use the machine learning APIs of Amazon or MS Azure API to carry out video analysis, image recognition and speech translation on a large scale. With these machine learning capabilities, developers no longer need to write complex codes, train algorithms or crack their brains thinking about how to extract meaning from a lake of data. In the next 10-20 years, organizations will be able to do much more machine-learning tasks on AWS and MS Azure platforms.

Data recovery and security

Ransomware attacks are on the rise, most especially in the US. In the last five years, thousands of businesses have lost their files as a result of ransomware attacks. Hackers who engage in modern ransomware attacks often target the backup systems of companies. This makes it difficult for victims to recover their files unless they pay the gigantic amount of dollars demanded by the malicious actors.

In the event of cyberattacks or data loss, companies can use cloud computing services such as AWS and MS Azure services to recover their data. In a report published by VMware, a digital solution provider, it was found that businesses that use cloud computing storage services are more likely to retrieve their data than those who don’t use cloud platforms to back up their data.

Flexibility

AWS and MS Azure offer brands much flexibility in terms of focusing on core IT operations. Before the emergence of cloud computing services, companies spent copious amounts of their time, trying to maintain and manage their servers, storage systems, and other key components of their IT infrastructure. Apart from the fact that these tasks are time-consuming, they are highly expensive and risky. By allowing Amazon and Microsoft to handle data storage and computer-related issues, companies can have more freedom to focus on key aspects of their business.

Bottom line

DevOps, CI/CD, AWS, and MS Azure can help companies to innovate faster. Together, they can save enterprises millions of dollars and help them to release applications on time and meet customers’ needs at a reasonable cost. By adopting a DevOps mindset, IT teams also have the opportunity to enhance the quality, agility, scalability, transparency, and accountability of software development.

However, not everyone is an advocate of DevOps, CI/CD, AWS, and MS Azure. As succinctly captured by Kim, “I think DevOps is inexorable, inevitable. I would say the biggest impediment is leadership and business buy in.”. In an era in which customers are quick to switch their brand allegiance when companies are not meeting their needs, some business leaders may feel overhauling their organizational structures to be DevOps friendly could upset staff workflow and consequently hurt their sales growth. The probability of this happening, however, is very low if CEOs are fully committed to embracing a DevOps culture.