Cloud is at the heart of digital transformation, make sure DevOps is too

If your organization is embracing digital transformation, then cloud is at the epicenter of that transformation. Your DevOps team should be too.

That was the overarching theme of a recent iSpeak DevOps webinar, Building a Cloud Service Platform, that outlined success factors and best practices in creating a cohesive cloud strategy and platform.

Webinar host Jeanne Morain, author and strategist with a focus on digital transformation, said having a cohesive cloud strategy can create a cadence and best practices to address other pressures on the business. “DevOps is a cultural shift, but if it doesn’t enable the overall company strategy, it’s not something that’s going to be embraced by the executive team.”

There are many things DevOps and IT will have to consider as they develop a cohesive cloud strategy, including a growing number of digital natives, both employees and customers, who have specific expectations of what they should be able to accomplish. Morain said the growing number of digital natives has also contributed to shadow IT, even within IT departments, and those technologies will have to be discovered and onboarded to the cloud if needed, she said.

Of course, security and compliance are considerations, particularly with regard to what breaches may have on the organization’s brand, said Morain, as well as disruptive technologies. “We’ve seen an uptick in the past five years of disruptive technology that’s helped the people and process side.” Examples include cloud bursting, containers and other news ways to deliver applications.

She said successful companies build an internal platform around people and processes so they automate as much as possible and onboard as much shadow IT as possible. And it’s not just about not just about enabling external users but also dealing with impact on internal IT as executives still expect them to manage compliance. “They still expect them to manage the complexity of the technology even if it’s the business making the decision to adopt technology.” Morain said a people and process-focused platform provides an IT framework for onboarding but also provides guardrails so they don’t get into trouble.

When it comes to creating a DevOps strategy to support digital transformation and onboarding to the cloud, there is “no one size fits all” approach, she said, but there are commonalities across companies that have done well based her research and experience. Top performers create categories of service as a means to develop onboarding processes.

The first category is customer-facing services, said Morain, which is what the company cares about most. These services may require a longer onboarding process that might include getting customer feedback. The second category are internal systems, which might include a development or micro-services platform for IT or CRM tools and HR portals for employees.

In the middle of the five categories are those services that affect both internal and external users, such as a website that interacts with customers and affects internal employees. Internet of Things devices, meanwhile, are a separate category, said Morain, because of their potential impact to an organization’s security posture and because it’s a nascent market. As organizations onboard these devices, many questions are raised: What is the impact on IT costs? What is the impact to points of failure? What is the impact to security posture?

Finally, mobile devices are given their own category, she said, as some could be owned by the company and some by end users, which adds scale to the organization’s security risk posture.

Morain said once those top performers figured out what those categories of services needed to be they looked internally within the management fabric itself to find how could they take down siloes of legacy processes, data structures, applications, and systems.

A good start, said Morain, is to eliminate duplicates, such as customer data and passwords, the latter of which can be addressed by implementing single sign-on, while also looking how they can automate ITIL and changes processes as much as possible.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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