Developing Interest in DevOps

DevOps, a combination of the words development and operations, is designed to smooth the frequently problematic handoff between an organization's developers and its operations staff. It is an operational philosophy that has technology developers and the operational team who will use the technology working together closely through the entire development of a technology solution. The goal of this approach is quick releases of solutions that have an immediate impact on how people do their jobs.

On the surface this sounds like a perfect fit for government, an "industry" in need of fast digital transformation to meet citizen needs. The DevOps promise of making application development quicker and cheaper is incredibly attractive to the government. However, the third part of the promise, collaboration, proves to be the most problematic as culture and process stand in the way.

From a culture perspective, organizations need to break down silos and create brand new teams focused on an application's output, rather than on tactical roles. To achieve this goal, individuals need to be empowered with autonomy and be enabled with strong communication skills to ensure everyone understands their roles and buys into the overall project objective. As U.S. Special Operations Command CIO Lisa Costa described it, "creating a DevOps culture is akin to practicing tactical shooting. You remove all extraneous movement, and that's how you get efficiency." She said her team focused on stripping away processes that had accumulated over the years but were not serving the objective of getting solutions out to the field quickly.

If a project requires support from the private sector (via contractors), the procurement process has proven to be a huge hurdle in getting the help needed for a DevOps approach. DevOps has agencies seeking potential solutions earlier in the development process than traditional procurement. Specific requirements may not be known, so developing a Scope of Work (SOW), outlining steps and tangible products is not possible. Instead, DevOps procurement should rely on a Statement of Objectives (SOO) that speaks to the end functionality desired rather than the work it will take to get there.

To help navigate the implementation of DevOps in government, there are a number of upcoming events providing best practices.

  • Digital Transformation Workshop (September 22, 2020; Virtual) - This workshop will explore the outcomes of digital transformation, including retooled business processes, workplace culture and change management, automation and workflow, and continuous process improvement.
  • How to Transition to a Modern Software Security Model (October 7, 2020; Virtual) - This event presents a case study of how Medtronic, a medical device company, embraced a modern application development approach to DevSecOps increasing scale, eliminating noise from false positives, and bridging the gap between development and security teams.
  • DevOps Enterprise Summit (October 13-15, 2020; Virtual) - This conference is for the technology leaders of large, complex organizations implementing DevOps principles and practices. The programming emphasizes the evolving business, technical and architectural practices and the methods needed to successfully lead widespread change efforts in large organizations, giving leaders the tools and practices they need to develop and deploy software faster.
  • Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference 2020 (December 7-10, 2020; Virtual) -- Infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders have had to change plans rapidly to adjust to remote workforces and cost pressures and keep core systems operational and resilient. The event will feature an Agile and DevOps track.

Let us know where you are learning about DevOps as a practice and how to apply it in a government environment.

Be sure to check out GovEvents for a complete listing of events, webinars, and a library of on-demand events.

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