For many of us laboring in the fields of digital transformation, 2017 was a year of high-intensity work and high-reward achievement. So we’re looking forward to a little breather over the end-of-year holiday season.
But we’re going to have to get right back on the Continuous Delivery bullet train in 2018. Markets move too fast and customer expectations elevate too precipitously for businesses to rest on their laurels.
Here’s a DevOps “to-do list” for 2018 that should be priorities for anyone who wants to make sure their organization is running at the front of the digital pack through next year – and beyond.
#1: Shift Digital Security Left
Digital security has become a boardroom-level issue – and it’s only going to grow in importance as headline-worthy breaches alienate customers and draw government ire.
But best-practices security requires more than just bolting better authentication and encryption onto your digital business after the fact. It requires that you build digital integrity directly into your code at every step along the way, from requirements through scrums and testing – DevSecOps.
In fact, by using automation to build security checks into your DevOps pipeline earlier and more reliably, you can significantly reduce your organization’s exposure to digital risk and reduce your total spending on late-stage application security mitigation tasks.
#2: Intensify automated continuous testing efforts
More than half of all enterprise DevOps teams report that QA is a persistent bottleneck in code delivery – unacceptable in a digital marketplace where top performing organizations are looking to do multiple deployments daily – and customer expectations around experiences grow daily.
Businesses must aggressively attack the QA bottleneck by empowering their developers with continuous testing capabilities that include well-automated continuous testing tools that allow fora more complete range of quality checks to be performed earlier, more frequently, and with greater reliability.
Using continuous testing best practices – and their associated technologies – DevOps teams will migrate away from legacy testing solutions and leverage open source and cloud-based testing solutions that support shift left methodologies (shifting testing to earlier in the software development lifecycle) and automate the progression of code through each phase of the SDLC – testers will become automation engineers. With this move, DevOps teams will positively impact many of their most important digital KPIs, including:
- More frequent deployment of new and enhanced features
- Faster time-to-market for highest-value digital updates
- Optimum mitigation of digital business risks such as downtime, laggy response, data errors, and breaches
- Lower digital business costs
- A more attractive and engaging work environment for high-skill developers
The New Year will also bring a heavier focus on Test Data Management as businesses continue to find the availability of test data to be one of the most significant constraints that drives lead time in test cycles. Additionally, solid test data management practices will be key to overcoming compliance hurdles and avoiding huge fines associated with the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect on May 25, 2018.
Whether organizations mask it, clone it, mine it or generate synthetic data, they will need to understand the structure of data. At an enterprise scale, organizations will have to automate the fulfillment of everyday test data requests. Automation will reduce the request fulfillment from days and weeks down to minutes. Next, there needs to be some thought about how the consumption model will change as testing continues to shift left and right. As more testing shifts left going forward, consumption by developers will increase – which leads to consumption of the data via APIs.
#3: Become a truly fact-based digital leader
Once upon a time, upper management had little choice but to believe what development managers told them. That’s changing fast.
With digital transformation, DevOps becomes central to the business – rather than just some discipline IT adopts to improve its own departmental performance, so C-level management must hold their digital leaders accountable in highly tangible and concrete ways.
Low-level operational metrics won’t do the trick. The metrics you present to upper management must tie back to business value. They’re not interested in a bunch of numbers that show how much code you’re getting out the door. They want to know how quickly you got something with quantifiable value to market – preferably quantified in terms revenue dollars gained by increasing revenue days.
Of course, operational metrics still have plenty of utility. You can use them to pinpoint opportunity for improvement and to incentivize culture change across your team. Operational metrics also provide the foundation for business value metrics – so you want to make sure you continue to capture them accurately, consistently, and automatically across your pipeline.
To mitigate this issue, DevOps teams will adopt digital experience monitoring and analytics solutions that correlate data – from the point of customer engagement to back-end business processes. By contextualizing and correlating data across user-experience, application performance, infrastructures/systems, and networks, every team (be that front-end UX designers, Site Reliability Engineers or support teams) will gain critical and shareable insights into the experience of every customer, on any journey, from any digital platform and across every business channel. Incorporating digital experience monitoring and analytics, solutions will become an essential way for enterprises to not only manage the exponentially increasing amount of raw data (logs, metrics, transactions), but to analyze and identify patterns and behavior.
Through actionable insights, monitoring will evolve rapidly from a reactive, end-of-the-cycle and production-only function, to a service leveraged across the DevOps toolchain. For example, product owners and teams will use digital experience monitoring to guide and improve designs, while development teams will drive better business outcomes by correlating code and practices to application performance.
Complacency in any of these three disciplines – security, continuous testing, and performance metrics – is unacceptable in today’s fast-moving, disruption-prone Application Economy. As the 2017 State of DevOps Report found, high performers execute changes 46x more frequently 440 times faster, and with 21 percent less tie spent on unplanned work and re-work than low performers. So make plans now to up your performance measurement game – along with your security and test/QA games – sooner rather than later.
Otherwise, you’ll spend most of the year playing catch-up, instead of delivering competitive advantage.