As is often the case with this blog, I am pulling in experts from across HP to bring a rounded perspective to the work of HP Software Support. Our speaker this time is Jon Bailey, a senior manager for Software Solutions who specialises in DevOps, one of the very hottest topics in IT today and one with major implications for Support. Jon’s expertise in DevOps gives him a great overview of how its growth will affect the Support services of the future. Over to Jon.
The origin of DevOps is largely as an offshoot from Agile methods which promise to deliver smaller increments of functionality more regularly – thus driving up productivity and improving the alignment of IT within a business. While Agile brings great advances on the development side, the ability to rapidly build and test new features is not enough. If new features just stack up and wait to be released by operations using the same slow release process, any advantage provided by Agile is lost – the value doesn’t get to your users any quicker.
DevOps devotees call this the ‘Velocity Mismatch.’ Better collaboration and automation can help address this gap to better deliver on Agile’s promise by going that last mile to deployment for true end-to-end agility. This Increased velocity in delivery speeds needs to be reflected in Support services which are also impacted by the increased collaboration across the product lifecycle which DevOps requires.
Support teams have to be acutely aware of the interdependencies between products and processes. It is not longer sufficient to be a support expert in one or two areas. Strong insight of the complete application lifecycle is needed to understand how a problem in one area may impact or be impacted by other portions of the lifecycle. Luckily this issue of interconnectedness and collaboration is one HP has been tackling for years, and is what is driving the evolution of the IT Performance Centre Suite (ITPS) which allows customers to plan, build and run applications as a seamless process - with the Support to match.
Realistically, not everyone has HP’s ITPS solution end-to-end, but even so, our Support teams play a vital role in guiding those
who are making the journey to DevOps. Also, as DevOps becomes adopted by more and more businesses, we are witnessing large cultural changes which can exacerbate technical issues. More frequent releases of software and the removal of previously manual processes lead to changes in working patterns as the organisation ‘learns’ DevOps. During this period of transition, there is likely to be a spike in the need for Support – something our best Support teams understand.
So, in the short to medium term, HP Support teams are today literally supporting the creation of growing ‘DevOps teams’. Over the longer term, as those IT organisations reap the benefits of DevOps, Support’s role will also evolve. Where once, support cases would involve the education of customers breaking down the traditional silos of IT, longer term it will become more about optimising fully-integrated organisations using DevOps as a standard operating procedure.
Ultimately, DevOps is only a direction not a panacea. Most IT organisations adopt DevOps at their own pace as the businesses they service and their budgets dictate. If you do go for it, we hope to reassure you that HP is there ahead of you, supporting your decision with the right tools, people and processes. In the meantime, I welcome your comments below.