Big Companies are Improving with DevOps

One of the comments I’ve often heard from people that work in IT and haven’t adopted DevOps is that the principles and changes required won’t work at their organization. Quite a few people think that only small, new companies, like Flickr and Spotify can use the ideas. Plenty of others look at only high-tech, progressive companies like Amazon and Facebook able to change.

That’s not true.

In fact, there are four Fortune 500 companies using DevOps, including a large (though young) bank, Capital One, and another, older one, WestPac. I’m not sure anyone would consider American Airlines or Hertz to be small, agile companies, though certainly they are in highly competitive industries and need every advantage over their competitors that they can get. I suspect that is the driving reason for many of these companies to adopt fast, quick software development. They can’t afford to have an idea take months to implement.

Those companies aren’t like yours? What about Maersk or Nationwide? Ticketmaster? Maybe Norstrom (and a few more)? I actually had the chance to speak with a number of Nordstrom employees that had taken a POC concept for the mobile group and proved that DevOps has value. From there, almost the entire IT department, hundreds of employees in groups from internal IT to mainframe to web, all have adopted various types of DevOps processes, starting with value stream analysis. Over a few yeasr, they have dramatically transformed their delivery of software. When someone in the business proposes an idea or need, it used to take over 6 months for something to get deployed. That’s down to a couple of weeks, and it’s released in a true, get-something-useful-to-the-customer fashion. This isn’t alpha or beta software, but a basic item that can be used and is then grown and changed according to customer feedback on a daily or weekly basis.

The transition to DevOps really requires some belief and understanding of the ways in which you can deliver better software, faster. This requires some slow growth, which seems crazy, but the the cultural changes take time, and even the technology tools you choose, require some patience, trust, and experimentation from your technology staff. While it might take months or even a year to get a DevOps process working well and one you’re comfortable with, the gains grow and grow over time.

Even if you don’t believe in DevOps now, why wouldn’t you try to get someone in management to set up a proof-of-concept and build something. It’s a small investment, that could have huge payback with limited risk.  You’ll learn a lot and can then decide if it helps you delivery value to your customers in a better way. And if you do adopt DevOps, don’t forget to include the database in your process.

Steve Jones

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