Integrating automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in software development reshapes how organisations approach software testing and delivery. This change is particularly significant for deploying complex software, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or core banking systems. It affects various global software delivery methodologies that impact organisations, including Agile, DevOps, and the Waterfall model.

AI and Automation within DevOps Practices

Adopting AI and automation in DevOps aims to refine the entire software development lifecycle, from development to production. This approach improves efficiency, enhances software quality, and ensures smooth transitions between development phases. Key focus areas include strategic planning, process improvement, and change management, ensuring that technological innovations align with overall business objectives and operational requirements.

Enhancing Testing and Operations with AI

AI’s growing role in software testing and operations introduces new tools and capabilities for automating complex tasks and providing deep insights. Notable applications of AI in this area include:

  • Automated Testing: Leveraging AI to automate various testing processes, such as regression and user acceptance testing (UAT), significantly reduces manual effort and shortens the testing cycle.
  • Intelligent Data Analysis: Using AI algorithms to analyse development and operational data enables predictive analytics, allowing teams to address potential issues proactively.
  • Dynamic Environment Management: AI’s role in automating the setup, maintenance, and management of development, testing, and production environments helps minimise the resources needed for these tasks.
  • Streamlined Release Management: AI assists in optimising release management by automating deployment pipelines and predicting the impacts of new releases, leading to more efficient release cycles.

Implications for Software Delivery and Large-Scale Implementations

Automation and AI’s implications extend to the delivery of large-scale software projects. Organisations can more effectively navigate the complexities of large-scale deployments by automating critical aspects of testing, release management, and environment setup. This approach reduces risks and enhances system reliability and performance, ensuring software implementations meet high-quality standards.

Adapting Software Delivery Teams to the New Era

The transition towards more automated and AI-driven processes requires software delivery teams to adapt. This adaptation involves shifting their focus towards more strategic and innovative activities, no matter the specific methodology employed (DevOps, Waterfall, etc.). Embracing AI and automation tools enhances operational efficiency and promotes a culture of continuous improvement and skill development within teams. This cultural shift is crucial for fostering innovation and ensuring teams remain competitive in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

Strategic Realignment Beyond Technological Integration

The successful integration of automation and AI into software development processes involves more than just adopting new technologies. It requires a strategic realignment of organisational methods and goals to leverage these technologies fully. Achieving a balance between operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and high-quality software delivery while also mitigating potential risks through early detection and resolution of issues is essential. This strategic approach ensures that technological advancements contribute to the organisation’s broader objectives and enhance its software delivery capabilities.

The Future of Software Delivery

As companies in various industries continue to face the challenges of digital transformation, incorporating automation and AI into software development and delivery can be a promising solution. This transition can provide significant benefits, such as improved efficiency, reduced costs, and higher-quality software products. However, achieving these benefits requires a comprehensive strategy that covers technological adoption, strategic planning, and cultural adaptation.

Organisations must utilise automation and AI to support their business objectives and enhance their software delivery capabilities. This requires adopting new technologies and fostering an environment encouraging continuous learning, innovation, and flexibility among software delivery teams. By doing so, companies can ensure they are well-prepared to tackle the challenges of an increasingly complex and fast-paced technological environment. Integrating automation and AI into software development and delivery can be a promising solution as businesses in various industries continue to undergo digital transformation. This transition can provide significant benefits, such as improved efficiency, reduced costs, and higher-quality software products. However, achieving these benefits requires a comprehensive strategy encompassing technological adoption, strategic planning, and cultural adaptation.

One of the most important elements of a DevOps team is collaboration, it’s what the culture is built on to ensure continuity and integration across teams and workplace applications. The importance of collaboration has only been exacerbated by the current global pandemic of COVID-19 and need to work remotely.

 

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to infiltrate through our lives, the IT landscape is drastically shifting timelines around DevOps and cloud based projects to support the increase of remote working environments. Businesses will not be able to stay afloat without looking at their cloud strategy as a matter of urgency, if they haven’t already.

 

DevOps is becoming more critical within the overall IT strategy to ensure employees and developers are well versed in staying up and running and connected to their teams for productivity purposes. Everything that we offer at Innovo Technology Services is in line with supporting a remote working enterprise, this is our area of expertise when it comes to leveraging DevOps within an organisation.

 

There are specific ways that you can build strength and cohesion whilst teams work remotely with DevOps, here is some insight that we have gathered and recommend:

 

If you think about very large and dispersed teams across a global organisation with tens of thousands of employees all working together, the luxury of being in the same room to plan and meet goals, was never there, even prior to COVID-19. There could be critical team members that an enterprise relies on and this could be a mix of direct employees and outsourced associates, and therefore, requiring the use of different applications and platforms.

 

These kind of organisations have no choice but to streamline communication and automation across software applications, to ensure productivity leads to successful results. This is the mindset shift that is required now that we are working within a remote and online workforce. Everyone that is employed, or employing staff within an enterprise must think about the bigger picture if they are to stay afloat.

 

DevOps, by nature, assists teams to become collaborative and flexible and able to adapt to a changing work environment as and when is needed. Remote and agile DevOps delivery can streamline disparate projects and workflows effortlessly once implementation is in place and integration is rolled out.

 

The remote working method, in conjunction with DevOps, can prepare a team and global enterprise for instilling an agile culture and although the initial implementation may cause some headaches, this will result in less bottlenecks and blocks in processes and KPI measurement. Teams will stop being reliant on particular key players because visibility to projects becomes easier with DevOps in place. Applications like Slack allow teams to work smoothly with set timelines and dates, because they understand where a project is at and are privy to where a human resource may be falling behind or human error has come into play. Improved automation encourages enhancements in the communication chain for all parties within an organisation.

 

Part of the reason organisations are finding this time challenging is that DevOps hasn’t yet been prioritised, due to other more essential projects taking the front seat. The avoidance of remote working cohesion, collaboration and communication will lead to some short term pain in our current global situation. The good news is companies like Innovo Technology Solutions can help with the implementation of DevOps projects for remote working conditions to improve the circumstances over the mid-long term. We don’t know how long we will be experiencing a global pandemic like COVID-19, it is recommended that DevOps, continuous integration and continuous delivery get addressed with key stakeholders as soon as possible to not only support the business to survive, but to also support the wellbeing of employees so they can do their job without the extra complexity.

 

Sticking with old ways and traditional methods of workplace communication could present another issue for enterprises. Physically meeting with your team in order to understand key projects deliverables, propagates a DevOps ‘anti-pattern’, which legitimises the need for face time with key players within the enterprise or management team. This creates a bottleneck for bigger decisions to be made and removes the ability to measure productivity because KPI’s are not accurate. This is obviously a managerial concern, but something to consider as you prioritise your upcoming projects and automation considerations.

 

Remote working can be of significant benefit to employers and employees when it comes to cost, productivity and quality of life or work/life balance. Having regular check in points and/or meetings that are set on the calendar bi-monthly or quarterly can ensure the continuity of business practices and gets the team used to being present for the cadence of measuring results and setting new goals collaboratively.

 

There are a myriad of tools to support remote workers like Zoom, Slack, G-suite, GitHub and more, that can help you to execute a collaborative strategy with DevOps, more easily. Having check in and productivity meetings, via tools like Zoom, is a great way to ensure you can see the faces of your employees and engage with them in a more personalised way. Keeping your employees present and in full attendance can assist with the collaboration that is required to successfully rollout new DevOps standards.

 

Before COVID-19, it has been recommendation to over-communicate to employees to keep them engaged in the remote working environment, however this is something to carefully consider given the influx of information your employees are receiving during this global crisis. Keeping consistent with communication on collaboration tools like Slack, could be a great way for staff to feel engaged when they are logged onto these platforms. It is a time to consider how many applications are required for a workforce to run efficiently, and to make redundant any that are creating ‘white noise’ that dilutes the messages you want your employees to receive and action.

 

Download our latest CIO guide to DevOps for remote working environments.

With COVID-19 and the Australian bushfires creating a myriad of challenges for enterprises across our country, the importance of DevOps, continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD), has risen significantly. Australian firms are finding ways to ensure the stability and continuity of a remote working economy, to mitigate risk and uncertainty. Many firms are swiftly realising that old, clunky ways of operating are not going to cut it whilst most employees within enterprises are forced to stay home.

Projects that wouldn’t usually get a lot of air time are now moving to the top of the list as many businesses prioritise continuous integration and continuous delivery solutions (CI/CD) within the DevOps realm.

Continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) puts in place a structured set of operating principles that allow development teams to distribute code alterations more often and with more reliability, sometimes referred to as ‘CI/CD pipeline’.

Like many elements within an IT environment, most software applications and dedicated teams are required to develop code across multiple platforms, however what is required is an integrated method to make changes quickly whilst having them validated almost instantly, without the need to draw on extra resources.

The goal with continuous integration is to create automated structure that allows for quality of software and collaboration across varying applications. In order to get to this seamless place you need teams committed to making code changes more often, and for employees to make that a priority, you need seamless integration when it comes to building, packaging and testing applications.

A sophisticated CI/CD DevOps practice would have the capability of deploying to production on a consistent cadence of daily or even hourly, bearing in mind that continuous delivery may not be possible at this rate for every business application. Many organisations however, are not at this level of sophistication with the reality being that they are still testing software on premise and behind the firewall.

The installed base may still remain in a data centre, and when developers are working in the office and within the firewall, this is manageable. However in a remote working environment, this proves to be complex because access to the VPN can become an issue. There’s no guarantees access will be there, which creates instability in work flows.

Now, as a matter of urgency, companies across Australia (and the globe), are making the necessary changes to shift workloads to a more comprehensive CI/CD process. The time to push out these projects simply must be condensed to respond to the organisational changes created by COVID-19.

Almost all companies should be finding ways to enable apps to be cloud enabled as soon as possible, it’s a matter of survival. DevOps teams will be busy providing companies with solutions to get to CI/CD in a stable way.

It’s not all doom and gloom, many successful organisations are demonstrating the efficiency of DevOps within the organisation during this global pandemic.  Cloud Infrastructure solutions have made it possible in this COVID-19 initiation, for Software-as-a-Service providers to efficiently and swiftly scale operations. There are examples where AWS has been able to ‘spin up’ tens of thousands of instances rapidly and then to pull them down immediately after, in a seamless fashion. Some enterprises, like AWS, are well prepared for this.

The global economy and shift to the corporate landscape has shifted so rapidly, that organisations will either sink or swim. Innovation is required to keep afloat during these times, and the clear rise in online customer usage with companies going remote and in some cases, exclusively remote, means many enterprises are making the most of cloud-native application development.

Continuous delivery (CD) is a strategy that allows DevOps teams to encourage smooth operations within an enterprise software team, and therefore, a more positive remote work environment.

The rise of importance of DevOps will continue to lessen the complexity and inefficiency of this remote-working time and investing in this way is worth considering for the effective productivity of your software applications. To put it simply, if people are happier in their remote-working environment, business can run more smoothly and DevOps, CI and CD can assist with that.

Many organisations are finding that cloud-based projects forecasted for next year, are now moving forward for completion in next three months. This dramatic shift in deadlines, calls for continuous integration and continuous delivery, perhaps more now than ever. This is the time for DevOps services to rise up to the challenge, to support the continuity and survival of businesses across Australia.

To learn more, download our CEO’s GUIDE TO CONNECTING REMOTE TEAMS WITH DEVOPS

Australia and the world have been in a bit of chaos, recently. The topic of the day is COVID-19 and, ultimately, how that affects the commercial environment and traditional working styles. IT teams and budgets all across the country are currently in disarray and the question is how these rapid changes impact the business from an Agile/DevOps perspective.

Here at Innovo, we agree that COVID-19 and new remote working will be a stress test for Agile and DevOps methodologies. There is a risk of backsliding and reverting to older ‘Command and Control’ versions of working, which is not ideal given the fluidity of the current working environment. Organisations may react out of fear and may now deem project-to-product teams too risky or unreliable. There may be even a desire to reverse such changes. Our opinion is that this is not the time for DevOps and Agile to be implemented with haste, as siloed teams perform even worse when everything is remote. The friction of work handoffs is further compounded by distance and poor internet connectivity.

So where is DevOps at today and what are some of the fundamentals companies need to review?

There is no doubt that DevOps (and its variants) are becoming ‘normalised’ within IT. Such publications as the World Quality Report (2019) are trumpeting statistics such as “all but 1% of (WQR respondents) organisations are now using DevOps practices”.

When more than 1200 respondents globally are talking about actually doing DevOps as opposed to just thinking about it, it does bear the thought “are they really doing DevOps, and what are the challenges being faced”.

Both anecdotally and based on statistics available, there are concerns being raised on several fronts, not which of least are:

  • Is there too much focus on speed, over cost, quality and consideration of remote working?
  • How has risk management kept pace with a changing dynamic and global pandemic disruption?
  • What about testing/QA?
  • What about Security? Companies have an expanded surface now with remote workers.
  • Is automation working effectively?

The answers to the above are as diverse as the clients and their ecosystems, and where we have undertaken engagements with our clients, we do see challenges around:

  • Software testing has changed, and there are challenges with how to go about it, especially now;
  • Automation, in particular, is a big issue, especially with the constant change vs maintenance dynamic;
  • Losing sight of the goals of DevOps, with it morphing into something that must be performed in its own right as opposed to focusing on goals or implementing risky reactive measures to ensure business continuity; and
  • The lust for speed over everything else.

Getting back to basics is a worthwhile exercise. Assuming for the moment that you have decided DevOps is the way to go (or alternatively review your DevOps practice to date given the circumstances), there are key fundamentals that need to be of focus:

  • Why are we doing DevOps? What are the benefits we are looking for? Will it help us ride out this global pandemic and work style change?
  • Is our organisation DevOps ready? How do we know? Have we undertaken some mechanism to verify where we are, and are not ready?
  • Do we have a strategy? For organisational change, communications, tools, automation. What about testing and security?
  • Do we have a set of principles that are front of mind? Are we starting small(ish)? Do we already have a lean and experimental mindset?
  • Is this being driven top down/do we have active executive buy-in? How much does the leadership team know about business continuity in remote working?
  • Have we adapted our testing practices to suite our velocity? Have we thought about unit tests being expanded to include I/O and/or point to point integration? Have we automated our testing (functional, performance, security)? Are we too focused on coverage of tests rather than targeted testing?
  • What’s our appetite for risk? Does our DevOps practice align with an overarching risk model?
  • Do we have the appropriate integrated toolchain? Do they support advanced communications and remote working?

There is no silver bullet when it comes down to implementing DevOps, and frankly if anyone tells you otherwise this need to be treated with an appropriate level of scepticism. There will be issues, challenges, even re-starts required on occasion, especially now. If you keep to your defined principles and goal, you will find you can get the DevOps not only that you want, but what you need.

 

Stay Tuned for our upcoming webinar on “DevOps in the Age of Disruption”.

Written by Sean Twyford