Mobile: DevOps for IT shops. Minus the upheaval

First step on a thousand-mile journey

For those languishing in the doldrums of traditional IT, DevOps-style development offers hope. Or would, if you weren’t too scared to try it.

After all, as I’ve recently noted, there are all sorts of reasons to run screaming from DevOps. Your company is regulated! Your CIO is a jerk! Only startups can operate like that! None of these are true (except the one about your CIO – they are really are a jerk), but they persist.

That is, until you try to build a mobile app. Mobile apps, declares former Netflix cloud chief (and current venture capital sugar daddy) Adrian Cockcroft: “Often lead the change” to embrace DevOps. Even so, don’t expect a quick shift to DevOps nirvana: DevOps necessitates a reorg, which can take six to 12 months.

How’s that for agile?

Your culture stinks

The average IT department can be pretty hidebound. It’s not that they’re bad people. Instead, as Puppet Labs founder Luke Kanies reasons: “The biggest barrier I see is the individuals. [They don’t know how to do [DevOps], and [are] afraid of change.”

Even as developers route around IT to deploy apps to public cloud services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, IT continues to try to slow things down by layering cloud computing with private cloud inertia. As David Linthicum puts it: “While public clouds provide this instant-provisioning capability, private clouds still run on traditional ‘owned’ hardware systems that you have to buy, install, and maintain.”

We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, that sometimes IT is most innovative in coming up with excuses as to why it can’t be more agile. Such myths are pretty easy to rubbish, yet they persist because, well, change is hard.

Of course, so is bankruptcy.

As Creative Destruction author Richard Foster notes: “Of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955, 87 per cent are gone. In 1958, the Fortune 500 tenure was 61 years; now it’s only 18 years.” Those companies evaporate as they struggle to keep pace with industry changes. Much of “keeping pace” ultimately comes down to their speed of development.

Mobile blessings from the sky

So what’s the best way to “be the DevOps change you wish to see in the world,” and dramatically increase the pace of development? According to Cockcroft, you could do worse than to build a mobile app, which also happens to be where 451 Research analyst Donnie Berkholz advises DevOps-hungry enterprises to start.

Some of this just comes down to necessity, as analyst firm Forrester points out: “Highly competitive industries ruled by empowered consumers with low costs of switching have the highest levels of DevOps adoption.” The competition to acquire new app users and retain them keeps going up, with Fiksu detailing a 101 per cent increase in the cost of a loyal app user over the past year.

Innovation in mobile apps depends heavily on iteration, which largely requires a DevOps focus. As Cockcroft says: “The mobile team deploys to the App Store, so they can bypass Ops.” That’s the first taste of DevOps freedom, though not the last. This Ops-free experiment then offers “an example [for the rest of the organization] to follow,” explains Cockcroft.

With 90 per cent of the world’s population over the age of six projected to own a phone by 2020, every industry, and every company, will need to master the pace of mobile or be run over. DevOps, as Cockcroft and Berkholz suggest, can be a natural result as organizations learn to think about Ops differently, thanks to public app stores.

For IT departments fretting about painful reorgs on the way to mobile nirvana, be at peace. Jeff Sussna indicates while a reorg is probably necessary to enable DevOps “it can often start with ‘behavioral reorg’, not necessarily explicit org-chart change.”

This falls in line with Cockcroft’s contention, and may mean that the CIO gets to keep their fancy title... and can keep being a jerk.

How comforting. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • GitLab spots huge opportunity for DevOps platform as revenue soars
    All companies will need to embrace modern software development, says CEO, and we'll be waiting for them

    GitLab believes the world is in the midst of a "generational disruption" where all companies will need to embrace modern software development practices, and reckons it can take advantage by positioning itself as the enterprise-grade alternative to homegrown DevOps point solutions.

    In a bullish Q1 2023 earnings conference call, GitLab co-founder and CEO Sytse "Sid" Sijbrandij said the business need for digital transformations remains strong despite uncertain economic conditions. He added that GiLab believes all companies are becoming software-driven businesses and this will require an increasing number to build modern software development practices.

    "In a world where software defines a speed of innovation, we believe every company has to become great at developing, securing and operating software to remain competitive," Sijbrandij said.

    Continue reading
  • Tim Hortons collected location data constantly, without consent, report finds
    Hortons hears a sue

    From May 2019 through August 2020, the mobile app published by multinational restaurant chain Tim Hortons surveilled customers constantly by gathering their location data without valid consent, according to a Canadian government investigation.

    In a report published Wednesday, Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) of Canada and the privacy commissioners from three provinces – Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec – presented the results of an inquiry that began shortly after the publication of a June 2020 National Post article.

    That article revealed the Tim Hortons app tracked location data every few minutes even when relegated to the background, and the report compiled by Canadian privacy officials confirmed as much.

    Continue reading
  • Apple dev roundup: Weather data meets privacy, and other good stuff
    No AR/VR glasses but at least RoomPlan will let you make rapid 3D room maps

    WWDC Apple this week at its Worldwide Developer Conference delivered software development kits (SDKs) for beta versions of its iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13, tvOS 16, and watchOS 9 platforms.

    For developers sold on seeking permission from Apple to distribute their software and paying a portion of revenue for the privilege, it's a time to celebrate and harken to the message from the mothership.

    While the consumer-facing features in the company's various operating systems consist largely of incremental improvements like aesthetic and workflow enhancements, the developer APIs in the underlying code should prove more significant because they will allow programmers to build apps and functions that weren't previously possible. Many of the new capabilities are touched on in Apple's Platforms State of the Union presentation.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022