The increasing pressure to respond more quickly to changing business conditions. IT professionals like you, in turn, are under pressure to deliver applications to support that quick response. Dell did a great job tracking how this need led to Agile and then DevOps.
The financial crisis that started in 2008 and the ongoing globalization of the world economy have forced change as never before. Companies are facing economic stresses significantly more challenging than previously experienced, resulting in an increasing need to respond — and respond more quickly — to rapidly changing business conditions.
Likewise, the information systems underpinning today’s companies also have to be able to transform rapidly to support acquisition integration, new market offerings, joint ventures and the like. This rapid transformation capability may be summed up in one word: agility.
What is Agility?
Agility refers to the ability of information systems to quickly and easily:
- Add application functionality to respond to customer demands
- Move through application lifecycle stages: development, testing, pre-production, production
- Incorporate new functionality or integrate new user populations due to acquisitions or mergers
- Change capacity to meet higher or lower demand
Unfortunately, the traditional manual methods of application and infrastructure management are poorly suited for agility and scale. Manual system administration is time-consuming and error-prone, both destructive of agility.
The move to virtualization has helped improve agility by removing the need to provision hardware. Users can request virtual machines (VMs), which are served up quickly. Removing the need to install hardware can reduce a portion of the total application provisioning time frame.
However, many organizations have implemented virtualization only to find that the effect of its automation is limited, with little overall change to application agility. These organizations typically have carried over manual system administration techniques, which are slow and error-prone. So virtualization, while extremely valuable, does not, by itself, achieve the end-to-end business agility required in today’s economic environment. Leaving established processes in place while implementing virtualization automates only part of the application lifecycle.
Consequently, the executives responsible for overall business direction find that virtualization is insufficient to achieve their true goal: improving overall business agility by bringing new offerings to market more quickly.
In response to the need to quickly configure the software components on virtualized servers, a new discipline and set of tools has come onto the scene. This is what led to the rise of DevOps and the role of configuration management.