Service virtualisation provides a practical approach to delivering DevOps

Roy Illsley, Principal Analyst Ovum IT

Even today’s most successful organizations will not survive the converged business future by merely doing the same things they currently do only differently. What is needed is a shift to do different things.

Ovum believes that rapid, assured, and sustained business innovation is imperative to an organization’s success. IT leaders therefore need to effectively harness technological advances, cut time to market, and improve quality and performance.

Many organizations are facing significant changes in the application development process, particularly with intelligent computing now in nearly every piece of equipment shipped. This is driving the world toward environments that are becoming so complex that operations needs to be taken into consideration before the first line of code is written.

The need to build and deploy applications quickly is significantly blurring the traditional boundaries between development and operations. Ovum believes that the move to agile brings developers, testers, and business closer together, and that DevOps is driving the rise of experience-led design aimed at getting more IT and business services to market faster and with higher quality.

Changes in operating models require new thinking about the role of IT

The financial crisis of 2008 changed the way businesses operate, and for CIOs this means getting the cost levers and service quality more aligned and responsive. As markets rise and fall, micro-level changes will be applied under the umbrella of a macro-level strategy.

This represents a fundamental shift in the commercial landscape that is rapidly introducing more uncertainty into the operating models of many organizations and will extend across entire industries. Paradoxically, while convergence and the mobile cloud are influencing and accelerating this shift, the influence and relevance of in-house IT leadership appears diminished.

Ovum research has consistently found that culture is the biggest barrier, which is demonstrated by IT infrastructure and operations managers being rooted in the past because they prefer to operate within a comfort zone of technology they know and understand. The result of this is that many organizations are overwhelmed by the pace of change and waste a large proportion of resources on tactical projects.

Organizations everywhere urgently need to achieve and sustain far greater levels of dexterity if they are to succeed in a changed business ecosystem, and the widening gap between traditional IT operations and the expectations of business must be bridged.

CA Technologies has developed its new management solutions based on addressing four mega-requirements that these new business models will demand.

First, organizations must retain existing customers by improving service quality and speed. Second, new customers must be attracted as cost-effectively as possible. Third, organizations need to achieve the first two objectives by differentiating how they compete for business, and making this differentiation hard to copy or mimic. Finally, organizations need to innovate so that they can sustain the previous three objectives.

CA Technologies sees the role of IT as moving from that of the gatekeeper of the technology to that of the enabler of innovation. Ovum believes that management software and tools represent the ideal layer to support this shift in thinking and acting.

Service virtualisation represents a practical approach to delivering DevOps while process and structural change continues

The DevOps movement is more than just having some solutions that allow collaboration, it is also about changing perceptions and ways of working. Service virtualization is an approach that provides all those involved in the DevOps operation with the environments they need, when they need them. Ovum believes that this solution will help accelerate the cycle, but cautions it must be performed in an envelope of process and procedural control.

Typically, constraint happens in the end-to-end development and delivery cycle at some point, particularly when it comes to testing. This is especially true of complex applications that combine components from internal and external sources, partners, cloud systems, and legacy platforms. Not everyone can have all of these systems at once (you can’t “steal” capacity from production to do testing, for example).

Ovum research indicates that capacity constraints in terms of the resources and the people needed to configure the environments are the two biggest barriers. The result is that organizations end up in a stalemate position where time does not allow testing of all the code before it goes live. The result is high error rates, SLA failures, and cost overruns, even though it may be on time.

With service virtualization, however, IT departments can clone the behavior of these constrained systems, package them up, and create a simulated version of the whole application, or parts of it, including the components and the load patterns. Once set up these environments can then be delivered as simulated service containers to developers, to acceptance testing, to unit testing, and so on.

Ovum believes that this approach provides a practical solution to the DevOps problem. It does not address the process and structural changes that DevOps will need if it is to evolve, but it can improve the existing situation to provide faster and higher quality delivery of applications.

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