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Aug. 23, 2017 10:00 AM
The Business Benefits of a DevOps Mindset
By Larry Salomon
In everyday life, I find there are several parallels between day-to-day discussion and some of the lessons we can take from DevOps. Such a mindset can often bring a number of benefits to any business and often these eureka moments can grab you at unsuspecting times!
Where Were You When...?
For example, do you remember where you were when...
- Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run?
- Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone?
- Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space, parachuting 39km to Earth while televising it?
My wife and I have this long-standing debate about whether drinks with Aspartame should be consumed. She doesn't think so, but I say "yes" - I don't want the added sugar since I'm overweight as it is. (Not consuming the drink in the first place never being a viable option, as then I'd only drink beer, which is no better for my waistline.) So once, while consuming one of my favorite beverages, I read the list of ingredients to see which type of sweetener was present. It was sugar, but I kept drinking it anyway in spite of having lost my own argument.
"Remember when there was this huge backlash about High Fructose Corn Syrup?" I asked her, in hopes of avoiding discussing the fact I was drinking something with sugar in it. As we discussed this, we acknowledged that during the backlash companies reacted in one of two ways:
- They fought back and tried to convince the general public that High Fructose Corn Syrup was just like sugar and didn't result in elevated risk for obesity, diabetes, etc. We all saw the advertising campaign from the corn growers that highlighted this.
- They modified their recipes to use cane sugar, Agave nectar, or something else.
Lessons from Software Companies
When talking to executives at my customers, I've often rallied behind the statement from Gartner in 2014 that organizations either think like a technology company or lose their "first mover advantage." (I like to paraphrase as "constantly innovate or rapidly become irrelevant.") For companies looking to avoid becoming the technological equivalent of the Titanic, DevOps seems like a viable pivot, and yet this has become the veritable albatross around the neck of many CxOs who want to adopt DevOps but completely fail to do so.
What gives? One of the tenets of DevOps is the CALMS acronym.
Lean (process engineering, that is, not the avoidance of sugary beverages)
None of these items are things which happen overnight, especially cultural support for the evolution to a DevOps mindset. The biggest problem with making the necessary cultural changes is the inability for organizations to overcome the way of thinking that encouraged IT silos; the "it's not my job" mentality, etc.
Lessons from Syrup
When the High Fructose Corn Syrup backlash happened, companies that were able to change the way they created their products enjoyed a huge bump in top line revenue (by my guess, which isn't backed up by empirical data) because this issue was 'top of mind' for many consumers who were concerned with creating a healthier lifestyle. For the companies that stuck with the old ingredient, they certainly didn't become "rapidly become irrelevant," but I can assure you that even to this day I still check the ingredients list and avoid products with High Fructose Corn Syrup whenever possible.
DevOps is a journey to be sure. But the journey will pay dividends for years to come, and so it is an investment which is worth every penny of sweat capital you will invest.