bas121 - Fotolia

Australian enterprises warming up to DevOps

The burgeoning DevOps culture in Australia has attracted new market players and led major banks and telcos to embrace the movement to get development and operations teams working in unison

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: CW ANZ: CW ANZ: Get to grips with DevOps

Australia’s DevOps market continues to develop apace, but organisations need to be wary of a range of traps while they try to instil a DevOps mindset.

According to Gartner, Australian enterprises will spend more than $12.5bn on software in 2018, a figure which underpins the DevOps market, which is attracting new entrants from offshore as well as local investment.

Telstra Ventures, the venture capitalist arm of Australia’s biggest telco, has its eye on the DevOps market, while owner Telstra has large DevOps operations of its own.

Earlier this year, Telstra Ventures announced an investment in US firm GitLab, which has a software platform that helps teams speed up their DevOps lifecycles.

“Customers are increasingly demanding better digital experiences, and DevOps is becoming the leading way for companies to develop, deliver and support applications that drive great customer experiences,” said Mark Sherman, managing director at Telstra Ventures at the time of the investment in GitLab.

“We look forward to partnering with Telstra to support its large application team and to aid the company in its vision of connecting people through technology,” said Sid Sijbrandij, CEO and co-founder of GitLab at the time of the investment.

Telstra itself is working hard to bring the DevOps culture to its software teams, and has set a goal of training 400 development teams into using agile methodologies by 2019.

The telco is not alone in embracing the DevOps culture. The big four Australian banks – ANZ, NAB, Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank – have shown an interest in DevOps since the middle of the decade.

ANZ is in the middle of a DevOps transformation spurred on by its “new ways of working” initiative created last year by CEO Shayne Elliott.

The bank has changed the way 2,000 of its business and developers work by breaking up specialised teams and putting them into autonomous, multi-disciplinary squads that are charged with changing particular customer experiences for the better.

Burgeoning market

The burgeoning DevOps culture in Australia has seen offshore experts arrive to take advantage of the market.

London-based DevOps and digital transformation outfit Contino opened an office in Australia in early 2017 and has grown swiftly, snapping up the 50-plus employee local DevOps consultancy Nebulr in April this year.

At the time, Contino co-founder and CEO Matt Farmer said the Nebulr acquisition would “provide what the Australian market is clearly signalling that it wants: tried-and-tested approaches to digital transformation led by trusted experts that provide real business value”.

Basis Technologies, a UK-based SAP DevOps specialist looking to expand globally, has also set up shop in Sydney in July 2018.

“With a thriving customer base and growing demand for a new automated approach to SAP DevOps and testing in the Asia-Pacific and Japan region, it was clearly the next step in our expansion,” said Matt Thomas, Basis Technologies’ executive vice-president of global field operations, in a statement.

Be wary of traps

While Australia’s DevOps market is warming up, projects often fail to live up to their full potential.

According to research firm Gartner, some 90% of DevOps initiatives through to 2023 will not meet expectations “due to the limitations of management approaches used by leadership, and not due to technical reasons”.

Gartner analysts George Spafford and Christopher Little listed the top five reasons for DevOps project failure: not being grounded in customer value; organisational change not being managed properly; failing to collaborate; trying to do too much too quickly; and unrealistic expectations.

Not managing organisational change properly is a major bugbear in the Gartner list.

Managing people through a major cultural working shift such as DevOps is not easy and Gartner has found a tendency for organisations to focus too much on implementing DevOps-friendly tools rather than handling major organisational change.

A survey carried out in 2017 among firms using DevOps found that 88% of organisations singled out team culture as one of the top three factors that affected their ability to expand their DevOps initiatives.

People attribute that work for DevOps include being team players, having good communication skills, valuing learning and being accountable and trustworthy.

Gartner recommended eight steps that will help an organisation get its DevOps mindset on track.

These include confirming the business justification; defining how DevOps will work; selecting the first mover application and DevOps team; establishing objectives and metrics; identifying the biggest constraints; developing the tool chain; and scaling up when ready.

“DevOps can deliver compelling business advantages, but many organisations struggle to start, or restart, an initiative due to uncertainty about how to approach the transformation,” said Gartner analysts George Spafford and Ian Head, who came up with the eight foundation steps.

They said the lack of a standard definition and approach to DevOps has caused confusion for technology leaders trying to adopt the DevOps philosophy and that infrastructure and operations leaders often struggle to get their nominated DevOps teams to adopt the right behavioural attributes.

Enterprises impatient for results often try to scale up DevOps efforts before they have truly begun, which delays initiatives. DevOps is not just about speeding up the hamster wheel of application development.

If apps are getting done quicker but customer satisfaction is tanking, then the exercise is futile, said Bill Holz, Gartner’s research director of application platform strategies during a recent event in Sydney.

Holz pointed to a DevOps adoption survey from 2016, which showed that while 75% of respondents reported faster cycle times and 66% reported faster realisation of business value, just 34% found improved customer satisfaction.

Read more about DevOps in APAC

Read more on DevOps

Data Center
Data Management