For decades IT operations has often been viewed as something of a back-office technology function. But all this has changed. Now IT (including operations) is front and centre in helping organisations forge new business models and disrupt markets.
As a result, IT operations must adapt to support the application-driven business needs. A successful agile operations transformation boils down to three essential requirements – speed, quality and scale.
With business now being driven by a complex mix of highly experiential software services, it’s essential that any problems are detected and resolved quickly. This can be difficult because monitoring systems generally lack the ability to provide uninterrupted transaction level visibility.
Some toolsets for example provide rich mobile analytics (usage, behavior, crashes) which is all great. But what happens when the success of a new national mobile app based sales promotion depends on the successful recording against a backend database and no network latency?
Without end-to-end visibility that can follow transactions across all apps and infrastructure and insight into the underlying causes for failure, no service levels can be established with the business.
Since the applications now being developed have a more direct correlation to customer retention and business gain, IT operations teams can no longer wait for each of these applications to reach production and then initiate monitoring – any problems now have a significantly greater impact on the business and can lead to greater conflict between Dev and Ops teams, more technical debt and lost business.
A far more agile approach is to incorporate monitoring earlier in the software development lifecycle. You can do this by collaborating with development to replicate the deep analytics and traceability insights normally gained in production. You can then apply them in a development and testing context.
By doing this you can stop defects leaking into production, but there are more lasting benefits too. Firstly, development has much earlier visibility into quality requirements before the system goes live and can enact any necessary refactoring strategies. Secondly, key insights gained through transaction monitoring can be shared with the operations team, so they can immediately establish metrics and performance KPI’s against which the production environment can be measured. Finally, and in true DevOps fashion, this approach creates tighter feedback loops so that everyone knows who the app is serving, what experience is expected, and where changes impact performance — continuously.
Embracing newer horizontally scalable application architectures is the way leading innovators are future proofing their businesses. Combined with micro service style development these architectures facilitate more rapid deployment of independent business services.
The Impact of Agile Operations
New applications and architectures supporting more transformative digital business demands that IT operations must become as agile as development.
The old approach of teams maintaining their own sets of specialised diagnostic tools over infrastructure that falls within their own silo is no longer sustainable. A more unified monitoring approach that provides cross-functional teams with fast visual comprehension to reveal what matters versus what can and should be ignored is needed.