How to Become an Agile Company

The end point of any digital transformation or DevOps initiative is business agility - this is how Automic can help your company achieve it

Ron Gidron
Ron Gidron, August 10, 2016 10:30 am
Blog > DevOps | business agility > How to Become an Agile Company

We catch up with Automic ARA evangelist Ron Gidron to discuss practical steps for how enterprises can achieve business agility.

Achieving agility: why DevOps is only a means to an end

The real quality businesses are after is agility. DevOps is a means to an end, it’s a methodology for enabling agility that was born on the web. Companies like Facebook and Netflix grew up as software houses, used technologies that were built to move fast componentising things, having unit testing, continuous integration and also cultivating an ecosystem of tools and practices that we now have come to call DevOps.

The enterprises are fast to respond, looking to achieve that same agility and user experience for their customers but dealing with lot of legacy in combination with new technology. DevOps is a means to an end to Automic and that’s how we see it.

What is the Automic proposition for ARA?

The ARA proposition sits right within DevOps space. It stands for CA Automic Release Automation. Release automation is the automation of releases, something that’s taken for granted as part of this software cycle in what we call mode 2 application. Those are the newer web applications, something that wasn’t so classically embedded into the legacy or back-end applications that most enterprises are and a lot of the transformation that we helped customers achieve is exactly in that area. So you could call it DevOps for your legacy or DevOps for your custom back-end applications

What is the Blueprint to Continuous Delivery?

As we started working with customers, roughly about 4 years ago, we started interacting with customers around the whole notion of release automation in the enterprise context and what we found was that there’s really some defining characteristics that all of our customers were going through so we noticed typical things on different levels of maturity and this is natural. Some organizations are a little more advanced than others and as we were working with different customers we started noticing a trend and we realised that we can actually help the market with some order around this.

Based on our experience we built a four-step blueprint to help organisations do two things. One, understand where they are on a maturity level, are they able to continuously deploy to production all their applications all the time or are they able to provision test environments on demand…lots of different defining characteristics. By answering that they can find themselves on their assessment.

It also helps us build a roadmap for a customer to help them move both an application, a department or an entire organization from stage to stage until eventually get to, and we don’t think anyone is there yet, the continuous delivery/deployment capability that’s right at top.

The blueprint is a four-stage process. The first step is Manual and Scripting. A lot of customers are there; a lot of companies are there. I go to a lot of DevOps shows and I see a lot of great stories about successful DevOps, continuous deployment and continuous delivery. What I also found out is when I go and talk to presenters backstage I always find out that for most organisations, the story that they bring to the DevOps show is the exception not the rule. They do it for one of their applications, maybe two but manual and scripting is the stage where most other applications are, that’s where most of the back-end applications are really deployed today, big upgrades that happen with books to tell you how to do it, manuals and scripts on how to do it.

The second stage of the Blueprint is the automated deployment stage, that’s customers typically on an application by application basis want to make some order, define the exact promotion path that the application goes through, define what a deployment package is and then automate that process so it’s not that automation of the deployment itself per se that is part of it, the actual automated deployment automates the process of moving an application through the life cycle from development through test, integration and ultimately into production.

The third step is what we call orchestrate toolchain. This orchestration includes two ends of the spectrum of the tool chain. Typically when you move into production there are other tools in your ecosystem that you need to use to intergrade that there aren’t specifically tied to the application requirements for deployment like approval processes, requirements around provisioning in the security things. Integrating around the ITSM stack there’s an orchestration of the process into that, that’s one.

There’s also an orchestration of toolchain that happens more on the dev and test side where complete stacks need to be deployed and that would be the orchestration of cloud stacks, configuration tools, test automation tools and so on.

How have customers reacted to the Blueprint?

What we’re seeing is that the Blueprint helps us drive order in the market. We’re seeing great adoption of it on two levels: One that I’ve seen it myself is I show customers the blueprint and they start talking among themselves and saying “We’re there” or “We’re there” and putting themselves on the scale that’s the first thing we wanted to do and its working well for us, the customers are putting themselves on the scale and obviously the next step is “What do we need to do to move from there we are today to the future desired state?”.

Give us some examples of potential customers who could benefit from Application Release Automation.

You find customers in all verticals. Some of the trends we’ve seen are telecommunications and retail companies adopting this around their CRM systems. In retail companies we’ve seen lots of point of sale updates. We’re also seeing an uptake in banking systems, predominately in the money market areas, we’ve seen a lot of banks driving that agility. But we also see utilities and governments, so we really see across the board.

For prospects what I would really suggest as a first step is to Google “Automic DevOps Maturity Assessment”, take the assessment for yourself, it’s on the website, it’s free. You basically answer a set of questions, it’s not too long. You get a report back that shows you where you are but also how you compare to others in your industry. That’s probably a good first step: Visit our website, read about the blueprint and maybe join a webinar, there are lots of resources online, and read our blog.

Free Gartner Report: Gartner release inaugural Magic Quadrant for ARA

A Practical Blueprint to Take You to Continuous Delivery

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Ron Gidron

Ron Gidron

Ron Gidron is Product Marketing Director of Release Automation at Automic Software. He has spent the last 14 years in product marketing, product management and pre-sales positions in both startups and large enterprises. Ron's passion lies in the intersection of software, users and market trends.