Adopting A DevOps Culture for App Dev Efficiencies

Eric Klein

The most difficult element to any new IT initiative is not the technology—it’s about your people. In order to successfully implement your IT modernization initiatives, addressing cultural challenges throughout your business will be key: from the C-suite to IT departments, and, ultimately, to your end-users themselves. Going forward, catering to the evolving "digital desires" of your people and customers will be a key challenge that can offer key competitive advantages if you move expeditiously. In VDC's recent survey of CTO’s and CIOs at large multinational corporations, a top priority which executives identified was the need to focus on enhancing and improving their customers’ experience and loyalty.  In VDC’s view, staying in front of your customers today will require expanding application access both inside and outside your four walls: the bottom line is that expanding your app range will be imperative going forward.

A DevOps Culture
Making investments in new tools and technologies is a great place to start, but what can make a difference in your business' ability to deliver the modern app experiences which customers increasingly crave will be your company’s ability to implement a "devops culture". Many organizations have made good progress in this regard; however, most fail in sharing best practices and collaborating across business units. For example, many progressive firms have formalized digital business units to ensure they can develop and release mobile apps or new features to their web properties quickly—but these teams are typically disconnected, both physically and strategically from the rest of the IT organization—and most importantly, from the rest of the company. But integration of your firm’s application development functions and IT operations is simply the starting point:  your business must do more than getting your teams to collaborate. Arming your digital business units with automation tools which can augment continuous software delivery capabilities is a great place to start—these investments will not only improve your visibility into the software development life cycle, but can also make scaling these capabilities across your organization much easier and save money.

Leveraging the Cloud to Save Time and Money
Building your applications using closed (and often proprietary) platforms will no longer be viable going forward. Cloud technologies should be leveraged as part of your IT modernization efforts, as modern cloud-based solutions can bring an opportunity to provide “as-a-service” capabilities, which will be critical in helping to modernize your business’ IT environment and app development capabilities. Cloud-based solutions are open, extensible, and are designed for standards-based infrastructures which can help your digital team scale across the business. In VDC’s view, cloud computing’s value is not solely related to the efficiency and cost gains offered by having hardware and software in the cloud versus ownership on-premise, but, increasingly, its value proposition extends further by offering users the ability to quickly launch new applications while also being able to then dynamically change aspects of the service as the business demands. Cloud-based solutions effectively enable developers to focus on their core business function—developing high quality applications—not on the back-office processes that are frequently required to deliver their applications. As a result, cloud-based solutions can help to spur innovation and foster creativity by shifting developer attention to the end-user application while removing many of the cost, management, and infrastructure hurdles related to the development, testing, and launch of new services. The real value for organizations that have made significant enterprise application investments will be the ability to seamlessly extend the business value of said applications by leveraging cloud-native applications.

Cost Efficiencies
Research shows that internal application development teams are beginning to experiment with new platforms and tools to gain efficiencies as they create new back-end services, connect to existing services, and create custom front ends for services. VDC’s data also shows that on average, organizations require more than 6 months to develop and deploy a single mobile application—with the average cost of a single mobile often eclipsing $100K. For these reason, organizations must look for way to reduce their development costs. As application expansion continues, organizations will need to make strategic investments to help standardize development processes. VDC’s data shows that standardizing on a mobile platform and in development process in general can help to reduce costs. 

VDC Graph

Another area where organizations tend to fall down relates to post-app deployment activities. Our data shows that only one in two organizations monitor who is using apps and how frequently/where they are being used—going forward, this should be part of their standard operating procedure.

To date, most businesses have been forced to take a tactical approach to building their mobile applications. Rather than deploying a platform through which they can rapidly accelerate their mobile application development and reduce their time-to-value, organizations are now approaching their mobile application development one isolated application at a time. This approach is inefficient (particularly from a cost perspective), as it offers no central point of control to manage back-end services and provides no means of code reuse going forward. While outsourcing mobile app development to third parties can be effective, it can be prohibitively expensive.

Going forward, implementing a development platform that can offer the ability to deliver data to any app client (native, hybrid or web), flexible deployment options, and repositories for finding and sharing reusable app and API components will help to streamline development processes and improve the time- to-value for your business’ development initiatives. Additionally, utilizing the cloud as a data abstraction layer to securely connect to your back-end systems will allow you to move, manage, and integrate your data and applications in ways that were previously unimaginable. By adopting a cloud-optimized application development platform, your organization can embark on its journey from traditional large-scale software to more open, nimble, and user-friendly applications.

Adapting your existing processes, developing new capabilities and teams, and changing your organizational structure will be the key to adopting a DevOps culture. The reward can be a rejuvenated corporate culture, more efficient application development, and visible digital business transformation across your organization.