Accelerating Business Agility with App Factory DevOps PaaS

Queuing, waiting, and the status quo doesn’t fit well with today’s now generation. Business stakeholders, who drive revenue growth and customer retention, desire to rapidly seize opportunity and market share.  They often view IT timeframes and capabilities as a poor match for today’s fast business-pace.  A New IT model is required to reduce delivery time and accelerate business agility.  DevOps PaaS brings no waits, faster phase execution, widespread accessibility, rapid grassroots innovation, and increased resource availability to IT projects.


As the pace of business quickens, mismatched IT delivery cycle periods decrease business satisfaction and revenue growth.  We live today in a ‘now generation’, where individuals expect instant gratification and action.  Even the Black Eyed Peas recognize today’s business growth imperative and IT customer demands:

I want it now

Big money, give me mo’ money

Yeah, I want it now

I need cash, oh, I need it bad

I want it now


The Peas also underscore how stakeholders pressured to grow the business today will be irked by misaligned delivery timeframes:

Cause if time can’t wait

Then I sure can’t wait

I ain’t got no patience

No, I just can’t wait, not today


For more pop inspiration, read the full BLACK EYED PEAS – NOW GENERATION LYRICS and watch the video.



In 2011, Gartner presaged the ‘now generation’ sentiment and consumerized IT ownership shift we see today in their Top Predictions for 2012 and Beyond report:


Next generation digital enterprises are being driven by a new wave of business managers and individual employees who no longer need technology to be contextualized for them by an IT department. These people are demanding control over the IT expenditure required to evolve the organization within the confines of their roles and responsibilities. CIOs will see some of their current budget simply reallocated to other areas of the business. In other cases, IT projects will be redefined as business projects with line-of-business managers in control.


You and your team probably feel mounting demands and pressure to clear a backlog of project requests.  You have gained agility benefits by adopting Agile and Iterative development methods, but have experienced a bottleneck when Agile’s fast pace clashes with systems administration and provisioning.  Agile and DevOps principles must be applied across a cross-functional team and the entire lifecycle (e.g. project inception, design, development, deployment, and management).


When defining a roadmap to align IT’s pace with business agility expectations, establish IT team objectives that quicken IT solution development and delivery, offer new technology as on-demand shared services, and enhance your team’s ability to rapidly satisfy emerging business use cases (e.g. social collaboration, mobile application connectivity, ecosystem partnering).


Adopting a DevOps PaaS can align your IT model with business agility expectations.


How DevOps and PaaS influence Business Agility


DevOps principles and practices combined with PaaS characteristics will quicken IT solution development and delivery.  A DevOps focus on continuous activity execution (e.g. continuous build, continuous integration, continuous test, continuous delivery) creates a ‘no wait’ environment.  Teams do not have to wait for the next script to run or for the next activity to commence.  By incorporating automation into developer and operations processes, teams bypass time consuming manual tasks and gain faster phase execution.  Both DevOps and PaaS promote simple, on-demand self-service environments that shield team members from complexity and reduce skill hurdles.  By offering on-demand self-service access, rapid business innovation and experimentation is possible. By reducing complexity, team members are not required to obtain special training and skills before consuming IT services and infrastructure.

 

 

PaaS increases agility by democratizing access to IT infrastructure and services. Offering a low cost environment and increasing resource availability, PaaS promotes democratized access.  The chosen PaaS environments must offer required application building blocks available on-demand, and minimize cost by amortizing infrastructure expense over multiple project teams.  PaaS environments based on multi-tenant, shared application containers facilitate pervasive access by increasing tenant density and lowering tenant cost.  Affordable, pervasive on-demand access encourages project teams to use approved PaaS environments and enables shadow IT teams to efficiently and safely create a long tail of application development projects.


Quantifying Agility

In the abstract, business agility can be defined as your ability to rapidly change business vectors. A business vector is your business speed and direction.  The direction may lead into new markets and new products, or engaging with new participants.  Reducing time to IT solution delivery increases your team’s ability to adjust the business vector and match business opportunity.


With adequate instrumentation, IT delivery agility can be quantified.  Consider the following agility metric recommendations:


  • Time to create project workspace

  • Time to build, integrate, test

  • Time to approve, promote

  • Time to deploy, release

  • Dwell time – time waiting for the next operation to commence or complete


After application project inception and before coding commences, systems administrators must create project workspaces.  How long does your team wait before gaining access to source code management repositories, requirement management projects, and defect tracking projects?


Moving code through build, integration, and test tools is often a time and labor-intensive process.  The entire team waits while applications assets are built, integrated, and tested.  When teams use iterative development processes, the wait time aggregates over several hundred or thousands cycles.  How long does your team wait during build, integration, and test phases?


When one team member finishes a task and the work enters an approval phase, how long does the team wait?  After the work is approved to move through phase gate, how long before the project is promoted into the next phase?


Operations activities related to deployment and release management often hinders agility and time-to-market.  The level of effort required to deploy a real-world application is often non-trivial.  Continuous deployment technology automates operations activities and replaces manual intervention.


While dwell time sounds cozy and refreshing, excessive wait states and downtime between activities diminishes team efficiency and engagement.  Automated notifications eliminate dwell time between hand-offs.  Automated project workspace creation, Cloud environment provisioning, and on-demand self-service access reduces wait time between software development phases.


How AppFactory DevOps PaaS Accelerates Business Agility

 

 

A DevOps PaaS incorporates DevOps principles and practices into a Platform as a Service environment.  DevOps principles include iterative cycles, continuous activities (e.g. build, integration, test, delivery), automated processes, self-service IT, on-demand access, collaborative interactions, and incremental releases .


When operation team members use traditional point tools (i.e. Puppet, Chef, Jenkins, Selenium) to achieve DevOps benefits, the teams spend a considerable amount of time and effort creating agile workflow, effective governance, seamless activity transitions, and on-demand self-service access.  WSO2 App Factory delivers a configurable DevOps PaaS that can be readily adopted by teams without extensive implementation effort.  WSO2 App Factory presents a simplified and unified user experience to complex development tools, processes, and team hand-offs.  By integrating software promotion best practices, test automation, continuous integration, and issue tracking, App Factory raises software quality while reducing delivery timeframes.  Figure 1 illustrates the holistic lifecycle approach delivered by a DevOps PaaS.


Figure 1.  DevOps PaaS Process Activities

 

Traditional application PaaS (aPaaS) environments do not help organizations build apps, but simply serve as a cloud run-time environment.  DevOps PaaS delivers development, test, and production run-time clouds that are integrated into development workspaces containing source code management, defect tracking, requirements management, test automation frameworks, and continuous build.  Figure 2 describes the infrastructure topology underlying a DevOps PaaS.



Figure 2. DevOps PaaS Infrastructure Topology


By automating software activities, workflow, and phase approval gates, a DevOps PaaS decreases software development and delivery times. Â Arapid IT timeframe closely matching today’s fast business-pace will accelerate revenue growth and enhance customer retention rates.  A New IT model driven by DevOps PaaS will expand development team participation, lower IT cost, and increase business agility.


Recommended Reading

DevOps Meets ALM in the Cloud


PaaS Performance Metrics


Multi-tenant, shared container PaaS TCO


WSO2 App Factory Product Page