• February 2, 2017

The DevOps Bandwagon: Which Industries Are On Board – And Why

The vast majority of enterprise leaders think adopting a DevOps culture will improve application security, yet many are not deploying it. HPE Chief Technologist Terry White explains why.

When Enterprise Services Fellow Terry White, Chief Technologist for Applications Services and Industry Solutions, first started working with enterprise organizations to embrace and implement DevOps, he remembers the vast majority of IT leaders cringing.

“People don’t like change and this was a pretty big departure from what they were used to,” White recalls. “It felt difficult, largely because the principles behind DevOps hadn’t been woven into the IT culture at that point.”

The name DevOps comes from a hybrid of development and operations, and represents the collaboration between software development teams and IT operations to automate systems and processes. However, its definition implies more of a philosophy than a rigid framework, White says. “The idea is to change before change is needed, not to change at a velocity that your organization and its systems aren’t capable of consuming. From that point of view, it’s pretty industry agnostic.”

Today, the whole mind-set around DevOps has dramatically shifted. According to the results of HPE’s Application Security and DevOps Report 2016, 99 percent of industry leaders, security practitioners, and developers agree that adopting a DevOps culture has the opportunity to improve application security.

Yet, for all of that validation, DevOps isn’t yet ubiquitous across industries. One big reason for this is a widespread misunderstanding of what exactly DevOps is. Consider this: In HPE’s report, 30 percent of respondents who said that their organization was not practicing DevOps were actually deploying some capabilities that are considered part of the DevOps process.

Government Takes the DevOps Lead

If there’s one industry you might not expect to be an early adopter of DevOps, it’s government. And while White acknowledges that most government institutions have a long way to go before they will ever be considered hallmarks of DevOps, he says some sectors of the government are shining examples of the value DevOps can provide.

“When I look back at when open-source software came on the scene, government was an unexpected early adopter,” White says. “That’s pretty surprising, because it’s generally risk-averse. But they really embraced DevOps and agile ways of procuring services and using crowdsourced software & data.”

When you dig deeper, the use case makes a lot more sense. After all, government needs and resources tend to fluctuate rapidly. And, today more than ever, citizens—like consumers—expect government services to evolve and innovate alongside the private sector. For that to happen, rapid deployment and real-time feedback loops are critical. “By adopting a DevOps philosophy, the government is able to adapt and act at a much more rapid pace, without compromising security,” White says.

Slow to Embracing DevOps

At the other end of the spectrum are certain industries—healthcare and finance, for instance—that haven’t been as quick to embrace DevOps. The reason? Fear around security, stability, and loss of control.

“The barrier is more cultural and historical,” White says. “People think with DevOps that you have to give up control, but the truth is that the processes you’re implementing actually give you more control because you can see what is and isn’t working faster, and you can adapt before it becomes a bigger problem.”

In banking, this could mean seeing which products—loans, credit cards, etc.—are being accepted and used, or where customers are struggling to achieve financial goals. In healthcare, it could mean seeing how new hardware is being used in the field and how processes could be optimized to help doctors and nurses provide a higher level of care faster.

“DevOps isn’t one size fits all,” White says. “It’s adaptable to needs and requirements. If you have a complicated logistics chain, then the speed at which you gather feedback and push change will be very different than a software company—and that’s perfectly fine. The ultimate goal is to discover problems and opportunities in a faster, more efficient way, and then deploy changes that make sense in that specific environment.”

Read more about the areas worthy of investment in driving transformation, including DevOps, here