The size of IBM Software Group is staggering: 519 major software product titles, 36,000 software engineers, 116,000 virtual machines supporting development and testing, and 44,000 physical servers. So while adopting DevOps was no easy feat, the efforts seem to be paying off.
Consider these numbers provided by Dibbie Edwards, VP DevOps for hybrid, continuous engineering, and application lifecycle management development at IBM, quoted in an article from Devops.com: "IBM has gone from spending about 58% of its development resources on innovation to about 80%. In 2008, IBM’s time to project initiation took 30 days. That was reduced to between two and three days in 2014. Groomed backlog was reduced from 90 days to one day and sprint test times from five days in 2008 to 14 hours today. Overall time to development went from 120 days to three, with time between releases reduced to three months from 12."
So how did they do all this? The teams examined all of their processes — from how they worked with their business stakeholders to how they were working with clients — and eliminated all of the inhibitors and friction points. It hasn’t been a swift journey — a couple of years — but it has been a meticulous one.
The software group focused on uncovering every manual process that it could — things such as how the tests were being created, building more efficient testing tools, and building a page object framework in selenium that its developers could leverage.
With manual inefficiencies identified, senior leadership agreement to prioritize how processes would be improved, and how much will be invested on clearing technical debt, the IBM Software Group then had a foundation on which it could build development processes based on DevOps principles and current business objectives.
With that groomed backlog in place, IBM could then make more informed decisions at the end of each development sprint — and even pivot, if needed.
That ability to pivot had been a big benefit for the IBM Software Group. “I recall just how many times we would just churn over these decisions and remake them and make them again,” said Edwards.