AKF Partners

Abbott, Keeven & Fisher PartnersPartners In Hyper Growth

Alternative Solutions to Old Problems

Are you like @devops_borat and not a fan of DevOps? Or, maybe you think deploying dozens of time each day to production is ludicrous. I’m actually a fan of both DevOps and continuous deployment but if you’re not don’t worry these are just new solutions to old problems and there are alternatives.

devops_borat

The Problems
As long as people have been divided into separate organizations there has existed strife and competition between the teams. In the technology field this is no place more apparent than between development and operations. In at least 50+% of the companies that we meet with they have problems getting these teams to work together. If you’ve been around for a few years you’ve surely heard one team pointing to the other as the problem, whether that problem is an outage or slow product development.

A solution to this problem is DevOps. Wikipedia states that DevOps “relates to the emerging understanding of the interdependence of development and operations in meeting a business’ goal to producing timely software products and services.”

Another common tech problem is that large changes are risky. It is called “Big Bang” for a reason…things go bang! If you’ve been part of an ERP implementation that took months if not years to prepare for you know how risky these large changes are.

A solution to this problem is to make small changes more frequently. According to Eric Ries, co-founder and former CTO of IMVU, continuous deployment is a method of improving software quality due to the discipline, automation, and rigorous standards that are required in order to accomplish continuous deployment.

Alternative Solutions
Admittedly, DevOps and continuous deployment are somewhat extreme for some teams. For those or for teams that just don’t believe that these are the solutions, don’t fret there are alternatives.

JAD/ ARB – For improving the coordination between development and operations, we’ve recommend the JAD and ARB processes. These are very lightweight processes that force the teams to work together for better architected and better supported solutions.

Progressive Rollout – For reducing risk by making smaller changes, we recommend progressive rollout. This is a simple concept that involves first pushing code to a very small set of servers, monitoring for issues, and then progressively increasing the percentage of servers that receive the new code. The time between rollouts can be 30 min to 24 hours depending on how quickly you are likely to detect problems. We often suggestion the percentage of servers in the progressive rollout to be 1%, 5%, 20%, 50%, 100%.

The bottom line is something technologists know – there are almost always multiple ways to solve a problem. If you don’t like the current or new solution look for an alternative.