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Mythbusters: Breaking Down DevOps Misconceptions Across Financial Services

By Brickendon Executive Director and DevOps Specialist Tim Smolcic 

The term DevOps is frequently used across all industries, but in the financial services sector in particular, it has become somewhat victim to frequent misinterpretations.

DevOps is first and foremost a cultural change. In essence it’s the amalgamation of software development and operations. It aims to improve operational excellence and bring integral value to the business.

Although the process of combining software development and operations is relatively straight forward, and has already reported tangible success in improving efficiency and management practices, the DevOps methodology has attracted a fair share of confusion and therefore many businesses have not fully reaped the appropriate benefits.

Increasing numbers of business and IT teams choose to adopt the process and actively implement DevOps into their day-to-day operations. Although numerous opportunities can be reaped, one must also note the challenges that have consequently been put under the spotlight.

Back to Basics

For businesses wanting to reap the full benefits of DevOps, the opportunities are sizable. Over a two-year period, DevOps has been proven to more than double the number of software releases and reduce the number of business-impacting incidents by almost two thirds.  The same programme is aiming for another doubling in the number of releases this year and a further 25 per cent reduction in business-impacting incidents.

DevOps involves taking a holistic view of the processes that govern all functional teams, from Business, Development, Quality Assurance and Support, through to InfoSec, but is also tightly intertwined with the existing organisational processes such as compliance and audit.

Diffusing the myths

At Brickendon, our DevOps team was nominated as finalists in two categories of the inaugural DevOps awards in 2017, and has successfully saved financial services companies millions of pounds by implementing its innovative DevOps methodology. From our years of expertise, we’ve therefore set out to diffuse the most common DevOps misconceptions and help others benefit from DevOps restructuring:

  1. MYTH: DevOps is only about implementing changes across IT teams. Successful DevOps implementation looks not just at the software delivery, but at the end-to-end organisational process. This is with a view to transforming the isolated processes into a synchronised organisational procedure. The solutions require cooperation and collaboration from across the whole business. It brings together not just development and operations but the entire business delivery chain including change management, compliance and even the financial budgeting process in a very agile way. It removes walls, gates and transitions, increasing accountability for the full end-to-end software development and business process.
  2. MYTH: Project management becomes unimportant. Many think that by implementing DevOps there is no further need for documentation as communication between teams is integrated. In reality, software delivery consists of numerous moving parts, each in a constant state of flux, so it is virtually impossible to keep every team member up-to-date. As a result, DevOps promotes the use of a centralised visual work board, such as a kanban board, which tracks every task, visualising the whole project to identify show-stopping bottlenecks, gaps, dependencies and constraints to be identified, managed and escalated by the project management team early in the process. This increased transparency makes it vital that project managers are more involved directly with the project sponsors to define the strategic roadmap and ensure the plan stays true to course.
  3. MYTH: Security and compliance do not benefit from DevOps. Many believe the DevOps process enables development to take over the security function. To the contrary, DevOps integrates security into the IT process from inception, in order to ensure that InfoSec issues are identified at the start of the project and addressed early in the SDLC.
  4. MYTH: DevOps is a one size fits all, ready-made solution. On the surface, DevOps implementation, including collaboration, integration and automation, seems straight forward, but there are many intricacies involved in the process. Although material information is available on DevOps, there is no off-the-shelf solution that can be simply applied to any organisation to transform it into a DevOps machine. The reality is that each team is at a different stage and some will naturally be more mature than others, so there is no use impeding teams already doing good work with a blanket approach. Each team needs to adopt and mature their DevOps journey individually.
  5. MYTH: Automation is only about integration, delivery and testing. Automation in DevOps goes beyond CI/CD, or functional and E2E system testing. It also addresses problems with scalability, consistency and reliability, and aims to support the rapid changes in business demands, while ensuring deployments are a low-risk process and industrialising them for speed and safety.

The key for businesses is to remember that without a change in mindset and the promotion of accountability across the whole organisation, the full benefits of DevOps will not come into fruition.

To put it simply: you build it; you break it; you fix it. With DevOps there is no place for passing the buck.  By adopting the DevOps approach, organisations can save themselves considerable amounts of time and money. The approach also ensures that the software delivery is of a highly superior quality because the whole team is fully aware of what is happening at each stage of the process.