DevOps, Digital Transformation and IoT, ‘Oh My’!


Companies are waking up to the fact that the digital transformation journey is not a leisurely stroll. It’s more of a marathon sprint. Between externalization of processes and the Internet of Things (IoT) the need to increase “velocity” is becoming a key attribute of success. Yet the pressure to maintain cost effective solutions has not gone away. Big reasons today’s enterprises are accelerating digital transformation include:

The need to master data explosion. Every day, the number of connected computing devices grows substantially. According to Gartner, several billion connected devices are in use today, with growth expectations as high as 5 billion by 2020. What kind of devices? RFID tags, smart appliances, connected automobiles, wearables, smart meters and many more. One has only to look at the popularity of NEST thermostats to realize that the pace has picked up. And, these devices generate tremendous volumes of data that businesses need to process and analyze.

Customer centricity. Much of the data floating around in enterprise clouds today comes from customers. What devices are they using, where they are going, what they are buying…this information is all floating around for companies to grab hold of. By adopting an IoT strategy, companies will be better able to interact with customers when and where customers want.

Competitive edge. Nearly every industry has already made it clear IoT is the way of the future. Automotive companies (some more successfully than others) are working on self-driving cars and connected car programs where you won’t need to ever pay at the pump again. Manufacturing and Supply Chain companies can use sensors to predict when their machines will require maintenance. Farmers can measure optimum conditions for growing various crops. The possibilities are endless, and if you’re not hopping on board you will be left in the dust.

Digital transformation is the first step in setting your organization up for IoT success, but before you get started, it is important to establish an effective development framework to propel your organization forward. The popularity of DevOps and Agile may make it seem like a ‘no brainer’ approach, however make sure your IT organization is able to keep pace with the rapid deployment schedule that will follow. With performance updates expected to drop on a daily, if not hourly rate, it takes a well-prepared team to remain focused and handle releases while also maintaining day-to-day operations.

Particularly if you are digitizing expansive legacy systems, it is important to ensure that you are updating quality code. One perk with DevOps is that you are able to streamline much of the development process using automated code checkers, but these checkers mostly just confirm the application is working. They do not consider the architectural quality or impact a new set of updates have on the system’s infrastructure. The range and depth of the analysis needs to be more than just code quality, it must move into application quality to deliver value.

This is where software risk concerns come into play. Without establishing effective structural measures that evaluate different stages of the digital transformation, you may be missing critical issues that can lead to system outages and performance issues down the line.

Adopting a hybrid DevOps approach may be the best method for effective digital transformations because they allow the team ample time to review the structural quality of upgrades before moving onto the next phase. Many CAST clients, for example, have taken this approach and seen considerable success.

At any rate, IT managers need to maintain a tight focus on IT risk management, which includes choosing and implementing security controls that mitigate risk to acceptable levels. Managing IT and software risk will continue to be a challenge with increasing pressures from IoT-enabled digital transformation. As with DevOps’ continuous innovation cycles, IT managers must also institute continuous measurement cycles that take structural vulnerabilities and threat-monitoring into consideration.

With threats on the rise and more to manage than ever before, IT departments are under pressure to innovate and protect simultaneously. Manual processes are simply unsustainable in today’s world. The key is to get code to look at code and distill that to the information that makes sense.

Bill Dickenson
Bill Dickenson Director of Solution Delivery at CAST
Highly accomplished executive with extensive operations, delivery, strategy and sales expertise in applications and operations. 30+ years of expertise in a wide range of outsourcing deals, outsourcing contracts, contract negotiations, global delivery and effective delivery models for both custom application development and packaged applications (SAP, Oracle, Infor).
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