Making DevOps a core competency

In the era of digital transformation, bringing software developer and operations functions together is more important than ever to remove bottlenecks in production, shorten the production lifecycle and improve quality.  

What’s at stake today is not just a project or someone’s position. Instead, it may be the very existence of the company. According to Gartner, 25 percent of companies will lose business due to digital incompetence by 2017 while IDC predicts that 75 percent of the S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027. Every industry is exposed to this new “digital imperative,” including Singapore’s financial industry. Furthermore, companies stand to lose their employees if the latter finds their employers and managers to be digitally incompetent. To avoid the fate of becoming an industry has-been, today’s market leaders need to ensure they won’t be overtaken by more agile competitors that respond faster to a rapidly changing digital marketplace.

Agility does not mean sacrificing everything

Too many companies, intent on being agile and innovative, believe that a successful DevOps organisation must be free of the trappings of rigorous change management. Business innovation and increased employee productivity, however, cannot exist without a stable IT foundation. When companies set on a path for ‘agile’ IT and give up the safety and accuracy of traditional IT, this de-stabilises company transformation progress. The goal is to have a balance of both strategies in an organisation.

By committing to balancing the two strategies, organisations can increase agility without sacrificing stability. More importantly, companies can increase employee satisfaction by different teams successfully doing the jobs they are paid to do, whether it is to drive innovation or keep the lights on. An example that may help us in thinking about DevOps is whenever a big company releases an update to their software. While it is common for companies to innovate and provide regular updates to their software, a poor update or lack of communication can lead to frustration, and users questioning why the company bothered with creating an update in the first place. There is a big consequence arising from this inefficiency – Microsoft claims that it takes 200 minutes on average to diagnose and repair a production issue, and that the average cost of infrastructure failure is S$140,000 per hour.

How can companies be agile and stable?

The pace at which the digital economy grows requires companies to roll out new services faster than ever before, businesses are challenged to move from idea to revenue as soon as possible. This need for speed leads to a desire, really a requirement, for agile applications.

For many of today’s enterprises, this means they have to stop thinking that a successful future depends solely on a traditional strategy of product innovation, using data analytics to better understand and serve their customers, or building a higher quality, more profitable product portfolio. To help the business address the changes in the marketplace, IT has to focus on greater process efficiency, increased automation, and enabling each persona with the tools they need to succeed

DevOps teams need the ability to efficiently develop, test and deploy new releases faster, with high quality and stability. Using automation technologies to design-in this speed, quality and scalability within the development lifecycle is critical.  Each of these tools typically targets discrete elements or steps in the entire process and DevOps teams use them as such, finding the right tool for the job.  In addition to faster and higher quality development throughput, building automation into the code of the application ensures better application services delivery in the production environment. 

The good news is that 60 to 70 percent of these enterprise application services or jobs within most organisations are micro-batch, batch or event driven – and can be managed with a comprehensive job scheduling solution.  By automating jobs as part of the application code and subjecting the job artifact to all the other automation processes, companies can substantially reduce time and effort during and after the application delivery process.


According to Enterprise Management Associates, companies with workload automation reduce application outage time by about 70 hours annually, raise service level agreement standards, free 41 percent more IT staff for strategic projects, and defer or eliminate an average of 50 percent of IT staffing requirements. Businesses in Singapore can make use of the Automation Package, which grants support for the roll-out or scaling up of automation projects at up to 50 percent of qualifying cost, with a maximum grant of S$1 million and receive an investment allowance of 100 percent for automation equipment, in addition to the existing capital allowance.

Many companies are not investing enough in their digital futures as they are focused on being able to provide regular dividends. Some are unwilling to shave off some of the cream of today’s success and invest in a digital future. However, management needs to invest now for the future, and DevOps is a good place to start.  As Singapore’s economy shows signs of slowing in the next half of 2016, businesses’ tools and processes must support a deploy-and-fail-fast mindset that is quick to respond to market changes. When we bring software developers and operations functions together, it emphasises the business’ commitment to collaboration and value-addition, and will put the company in good stead for the future.

Gavin Selkirk is President of Asia Pacific & Japan at BMC Software