The conventional view of IT deployment is something that’s slow, arduous and not very much in line with the fast pace of today’s business environment. But that view is starting to change.
The needs of IT deployments are shifting towards a more agile function that responds efficiently to business needs and problems; and not an adjunct process removed from a company’s core activities.
But as perceptions and needs are changing, it also raises a paradox. IT processes need to be stable to survive which, prima facie, is contradictory to agility and speed. Speeding up IT processes without rigorous testing increases the risks of failure in deployment and can spell disaster for the CIO.
Pessimists would argue that stability is at the core of a CIO’s role and deployment needs to be rigorous to survive. Quality outcomes result only from establishing cross-validation beginning with specifications, followed by disciplined stages of design, development, testing, and release.
Optimists, on the other hand, argue that being agile is absolutely necessary for the modern CIO. Adhering to stable, increasingly outdated methods and legacy infrastructure means a CIO becomes increasingly irrelevant in today’s fast paced business environment.
To remain relevant, CIOs need to become more optimistic and agile and in many ways, this does not mean that the stability and rigour of tried and tested measures of IT deployments go out the window.
A DevOps approach to IT deployment can resolve the agility-stability paradox and is an essential tool for CIOs to become more optimistic and relevant. CIOs can transform by adopting more agility without giving up stability, but CIOs need to change their thinking on what stability is and how it can be achieved.
Adopting this approach moves the CIO role to more of a core function, implementing solid but speedy systems that match the needs of the modern business.
DevOps emphasises continuous delivery of smaller more viable deliverables that attempts to address smaller parts of the requirement piece by piece. DevOps enables a closer working arrangement between development and operations. There is increased automation where possible and developers are more responsible for ensuring their code functions well in the business environment.
By emphasising continuous delivery, DevOps also helps CIOs and their development teams gain more visibility. Workflows become more streamlined and a number of build, release and deployment steps become more automated. This increased visibility means the IT deployment process retains the better control needs of old, whilst still adhering to the need for agility.
Modern business has changed and the role of the CIO needs to change along with it. By developing the more optimist mindset and adopting a DevOps model means that CIOs can start to solve the agility-stability paradox and become a core part of the modern business function.
Ashley Howden is the CEO of software quality and risk mitigation specialist KJR.
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