Hybrid IT, now the new normal in enterprises, is driven by the combination of devops practices that demand elastic infrastructure, and business users who don’t care where services are sourced from, as long as they are instantly and easily fulfilled. While accelerating application release velocity precipitates hybrid IT, the reverse can be true as well.
IT operations teams, tasked with managing the hybrid IT environment, face two paths: remain curators of a legacy estate, or modernize methods to support the need for speed of developers and business users. Those who take the second path are investing in automation to achieve accelerated application delivery at the speed of devops.
What is changing to accelerate application releases?
Devops, while biased towards developers, is also propelling improvements for operations. The obvious example is application release automation (ARA). In a hybrid environment, the benefits of ARA can extend not only to the public cloud environment, but the traditional environment as well.
There are serious concerns to address, though. The operations team is appropriately cautious and apprehensive of risking outages or poor performance when control is placed in the hands of developers using self-service to automate releases. When IT service performance or availability take a hit in the cloud, IT operations is at arm’s length in terms of the blame. Not so with critical enterprise applications, especially those that support revenue generation or production that run in the corporate data center.
The concept of accelerating enterprise application releases to the speed of devops must be a carefully considered, architected, and integrated operational approach that balances increased speed with risk. There are advantages of bringing this approach to the traditional environment, including helping the business become more competitive and efficient, which are driving organizations to unify their approach to IT operations.
What is needed to accelerate the release of enterprise applications?
Whether the developers of your enterprise applications switch to agile from waterfall methods or not, there are still approaches that IT operations can borrow from devops in a hybrid environment that will accelerate releases. These include three key abilities:
1. Unified provisioning of hybrid IT infrastructure
IT operations’ primary role in application release is to provision the infrastructure for applications, whether that is on a dedicated server, virtual machines, or private or public cloud infrastructure. The drive to create an integrated devops tool chain has led to integrating provisioning software with ARA software that automates the entire process.
Ideally, enterprise application development methods would use the same ARA software that the devops team uses, but this often isn’t the case. Therefore, the provisioning tools in use by IT operations must be selected with an ability to integrate with multiple ARA tools or no ARA tools. The key is self-service for developers that supports the tracking of the request, the proper provisioning of services and documenting ownership for chargebacks and management. Even ticketing integration can provide the self-service interface, if the automation can be triggered appropriately.
2. Orchestration for operational tasks
Orchestration is the ability to automate IT processes across the hybrid environment. This requires multiple integrations across various tools to achieve the level of automation that provides more value than the cost of implementing the automation. A key part of self-service fulfillment of IaaS or PaaS is an ability to provision operating systems, databases or middleware appropriately according to company standards or policies. This is most significant in greater automation for “standard changes” that can free up change management to focus on higher-risk changes. While various cloud providers may have tools for some of these purposes, in a multi-cloud environment orchestration capabilities are a must.
3. Unified visibility of the hybrid environment, with developer feedback for improvement
There will always be room for improvement, especially when accelerating application releases. Part of the effort to accelerate releases must be to allow the team to fail fast, meaning that perfection is not expected, but rapid recovery from failure is. Understanding where improvement efforts must be focused requires the right reporting that covers the hybrid environment.
The opportunity that hybrid IT provides to transform the IT experience extends to application releases. Leveraging the automation built for the hybrid environment to support enterprise application release acceleration helps the business keep pace with competitors by allowing faster innovations, while keeping IT operations from becoming obsolete.
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