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DevOps gathers pace in APAC

Large enterprises such as DBS Bank have been shaking up their software development practices to fend off disruption from more nimble rivals

Asia-Pacific enterprises were at least three years behind their US counterparts in their digital transformation efforts, but that is no longer the case, according to an industry veteran in the region.

Speaking to Computer Weekly in an exclusive interview, Lionel Lim, vice-president and managing director of Pivotal Asia-Pacific and Japan, said household names such as DBS Bank, utility company SP Group and internet company Yahoo Japan have been making concerted efforts to develop new applications for the cloud and build agile development teams.

“Over the last two years, there has been a change in mindset around software engineering culture,” he said. “The big boys that are being disrupted are fighting back.”

Lim said DBS Bank, for example, has been building cloud-based applications at scale, while Yahoo Japan is adopting Pivotal’s methodology in software development and deployment.

That methodology not only covers agile development approaches such as pair programming, but also design and product management best practices, such as developing personas and testing assumptions.

“More enterprises now realise that to make a comeback, they need to become more agile, speed up software development and organise their teams around software products which get tested and improved right away,” said Lim, a former regional president at CA Technologies and Sun Microsystems.

At the heart of agile software development is DevOps, which combines application development and IT operations to push out software releases quickly. Some form of automation is usually involved to speed up application testing and infrastructure provisioning.

Charlie Dai, principal analyst at Forrester, said DevOps is gaining momentum across the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in markets such as Japan, China, India, South Korea and Singapore.

“However, they are at different stages of the journey – some are integrating various DevOps tools, while others are embracing container platforms to modernise existing IT assets, or focusing on the cultural and collaboration aspects of DevOps,” said Dai at ConnectechAsia in June 2018.

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Sabu Singh Bhatia, head of consumer and core engines architecture at DBS Bank, said fostering a DevOps culture is critical in weaning developers off the old ways of building software.

“DevOps is not so much about tooling, but about building a culture around what you hope to achieve – a software development pipeline that is being automated and tested a lot to improve code quality,” said Bhatia. “That goes against the traditional waterfall development cycle.”

However, Chang Sau Sheong, SP Group’s managing director for digital technology, started the company’s DevOps journey on a clean sheet because, until two years ago, he did not have a software development team.

“Although we now have a DevOps team, the idea of developers mixing with existing IT operations teams was kind of strange to a lot of internal people,” said Chang. said, “But since then, there has been rapid movement between what we were doing in the past and today.”

According to a Research and Markets report, the Asia-Pacific DevOps market, led by China, will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.2% between 2017 and 2023.

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