Over the past year, I’ve seen a shift in how we speak about delivering applications. More and more of us use the term “digital transformation” to describe the business results of adopting Agile, DevOps, and the cloud. It’s about time companies understand and embrace the impact that building and delivering apps The Right Way provides.
The first digital transformation step companies typically take is using new technologies on a green field application. This will be an application built using newer stack technologies. Also, the application will have no dependency on legacy applications. When all is said and done, the application is a huge success. Changes are delivered quickly using Agile software development. The application deployment is automated using DevOps tools to the cloud. The IT leaders in the company are able to show how they are taking visible, impactful steps toward digital transformation.
So if success is attainable with green field applications, why are companies still struggling to execute in their transformation initiatives?
Simply put, companies reach the Plateau of Frustration with their initiatives when they start to tackle their legacy applications. Legacy applications are the backbone of the enterprise. They hold customer data, were built prior to these new green field technologies, and make a TON of money. Rewriting the application is not going to work. Forklifting the stack to the cloud won’t work, either, due the manual care and feeding the application requires.
At first, the development team embraced Agile and started delivering smaller application releases faster. What was once a quarterly or yearly (!) release cycle is now measured in weeks. Quickly, the release team adopted DevOps tooling to help orchestrate the release of the application. The release schedule drove them to adopt a new way of releasing applications. This all resulted in their database team simply working harder, longer hours. Quality suffered as corners were cut. “Get it out the door!”
Prior to Agile, DevOps, and the cloud, our release schedule allowed us the time to have our DBAs manually review releases. However, now that the release schedule has compressed, we no longer have that luxury. We need a new approach. We need a better solution.
Two things that need to be part of our digital transformation is circumspection and diligence. You need to be aware of all parts that are required for your release. If you are not looking around to include all stakeholders, you will be disappointed when you hit a roadblock. I believe the biggest one will be your database. Second, realize that digital transformation is a process. Simply taking advantage of new technology like the cloud is not good enough. You must continue to transform, improve your business. Lather, rinse, repeat. You must diligently require your entire organization to constantly improve, become faster, more efficient. After all, your competitors are doing the same.