Delphix’s Steve Barrett on promoting cross-functional collaboration with DevOps
Many enterprise businesses have traditionally been organised by function and expertise. Each team or department is separate, sorted into different units with varying resources and goals. Communication between these units is limited and they ultimately succeed or fail based on their own merit. Unsurprisingly, this way of operating can lead to dangerous divisions forming throughout an organisation. The siloes that develop when departments are structured to work as separate entities - and the mentality that they create - can be extremely difficult to overcome. Through reducing productivity, wasting resources and impacting employee morale, siloes could bring a business to its knees. Therefore, it’s no wonder that so many business leaders are trying to shift away from departmental focuses to organisational goals. For many, implementing DevOps will play a key role moving forward. Breaking down siloes Innovation is something that every organisation strives for. More often than not, it begins with hiring developers and building programmes which enable them to do their best work. This backdrop has given rise to ‘blameless cultures’ - where developers can build, own and ship code, and ultimately ‘fail fast’ without fear of repercussions. However, it’s hard for developers to truly take advantage of these initiatives if they’re reliant on siloed operations teams to service the data for them. In these instances, data can very quickly become a bottleneck, leading to team apathy or even the large-scale failure of projects.
This is where DevOps can help. At its heart, DevOps is all about removing barriers and increasing collaboration. By bringing together development and operations teams it enables businesses to build, test and deliver new software and applications at a faster and more efficient pace. In a true DevOps business, teams are organised by functional scope and collaboration is encouraged at all levels. This helps to ensure end-to-end responsibility and accountability across all projects and also gives employees a greater sense of purpose, as they become more aware of the impact their work is having from an organisational perspective. Promoting cross functional teams in this way can even help in terms of upskilling, as team members across a wider business will learn from each other. With all these benefits, it’s not surprising that the DevOps movement continues to gain traction. In fact, IDC research forecasts that by the end of this year, 80% of European organisations will have adopted it in some form. But, eliminating siloes and succeeding with a DevOps strategy isn't always easy. The same study found that only 10% of those implementing DevOps will excel in terms of accelerated performance and delivery cycles. That means that nine in 10 businesses are failing to reach their full DevOps potential. DevOps is more than just a mindset When it comes to DevOps, whilst initiatives like ‘blameless cultures’ are important, so too is setting up the company infrastructure for long-term success. You can’t break down those siloes and achieve the perfect DevOps team without blending the right mindset with the right technology. Rolling out deployments at a business-wide level often requires many complex integrations between applications and systems that don’t always simply just come together. IT leaders might know what they need to do, but the fact is that they don’t always have tools in place to do it.
Dedicated data platforms can assist teams on their journey to a DevOps future. By delivering data into development environments at the same pace and level of automation as DevOps teams deploy code, these platforms can eliminate CI/CD bottlenecks. They effectively and efficiently bring together previously separated data sources. This means that developers can access data from different platforms, mainframes and applications whilst still benefiting from a single source of truth. By synching data from across the business in this way and provisioning it to test environments, these platforms enable teams to manage all operations, without compromising on compliance or security. For developers, they ease time travel for data, delivering virtual data on demand and automating any bottlenecks. Ultimately, the best tools on the market will facilitate cooperation and collaboration among your experts, as well as provide the end-to-end visibility that allows them to align with wider business goals and emphasising a greater sense of purpose. Some companies have already seen major success when it comes to implementing such platforms. For example, one of the biggest tyre manufacturers in the world – Michelin – leverages API driven data automation to improve production resiliency by 98% and drive sustainable mobility and growth across the business. The team can find and fix problems faster thanks to their on-demand data delivery alongside an optimised CI-CD value chain and application downtime has successfully been reduced from two days to two hours. Moving into this next chapter in business will not be an easy undertaking. Siloes are often deeply entrenched and the divisions they create will not be healed overnight. However, it can be achieved and it is definitely worth the effort. After all, there’s power in a shared vision. By encouraging a culture of cross functional collaboration and setting up the foundational data infrastructure to support this, businesses can ensure that all teams are working together to make their DevOps dreams a reality.