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The DevOps digital transformation: Evolutionary and revolutionary

Software is eating the world, so goes the popular saying. How did this happen? What's fueling the DevOps digital transformation? For the answer, we look to evolutionary biology.

Evolution doesn't occur at a steady pace. It's marked by moments of a consequential and relatively sudden change, which significantly alter survival dynamics and give rise to entirely new paradigms.

This happened with the Cambrian explosion. Approximately 541 million years ago, and over the next 70 million to 80 million years, organisms rapidly evolved from mostly single-cell to complex and diverse creatures that better resemble life on planet Earth as we know it.

As CloudBees CTO and Jenkins founder Kohsuke Kawaguchi explained in his Jenkins World keynote, the Cambrian explosion serves as an apt metaphor for both Jenkins and the DevOps digital transformation.

Otherwise mundane elements sparked and fueled the Cambrian explosion, like the gradual evolution of eyesight. While crude at first, many experts believe eyesight reached a tipping point that upheaved the predator-prey dynamic by enabling predators to hunt more effectively. This increased pressure to evolve and kicked off an arms race, as prey developed better defense features, like armor, speed and camouflage.

Automation, cloud and mobile: Fueling the DevOps digital transformation

For Jenkins, which started as a single app for a single use case, the automation features in early builds stand in for eyesight, while mobility and cloud serve the same for DevOps as a whole. Modern software as we know it has been around for about 70 years. But it's easy to see mobility, cloud and automation, igniting software's Cambrian explosion.

All were limited and seemingly innocuous at first, but eventually developed to enable an online broker like Amazon to compete with Walmart, the world's largest physical retailer. The pressure to evolve is why Walmart dropped $3 billion on e-commerce startup Jet.com earlier this year. The pressure to evolve is why all business are now in the software business -- a refrain repeated at Jenkins World.

Evolution equals transformation, and the latter was a steady theme at Jenkins World; although, both could just as easily double as warnings. CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey hit that point home in his keynote focusing on "Digital Darwinism," quoting Eric Shinseki, retired Army general and former U.S. secretary of Veteran Affairs: "If you dislike change, you're going to dislike irrelevance even more."

Deployment pipelines rest on infrastructure as code

Code is the basis of the deployment pipeline. But is it time for code to become the building block of your IT infrastructure? It's time for system administrators to become infrastructure developers.

Instant insights, the next big thing

CloudBees used Jenkins World to launch DevOptics, which Labourey claimed provides a "single source of truth" for a "holistic view" of the deployment pipeline, aggregating data from disparate tools and teams. From his description, it's a DevOps system of record -- one that ultimately helps the business side "identify ROI from DevOps initiatives," according to CloudBees.

Think of [a friendly UI] as extending the pipeline beyond IT to business and marketing.

CloudBees wasn't alone in trying to make metric sense of the deployment pipeline. Electric Cloud recently unveiled ElectricFlow 8.0 with DevOps Insight Analytics, using Jenkins World to show it off to prospective developers. According to Electric Cloud, Insight Analytics provides "teams with automated data collection and powerful reporting to connect DevOps toolchain metrics and performance back to the milestones and business value (features, user stories) being delivered in every release."

Anders Wallgren, CEO at Electric Cloud, based in San Jose, Calif., stated it offered instant insights to relevant pipeline analytics, helping troubleshoot bottlenecks and spot trends, for both IT and business leaders.

So, what's the big deal about dashboards and insights? Plenty, according to Kawaguchi -- particularly CloudBees Blue Ocean. He said he sees it as another element fueling the DevOps digital transformation.

A friendly UI that both business and IT can understand improves the constant delivery user experience. Think of it as extending the pipeline beyond IT to business and marketing. With relevant insights, organizations can better meet customer needs and react to customer demands.

It's both an evolutionary and revolutionary software explosion, fueled by cloud, mobile, automation and easy access to actionable data. Take another look at Walmart as it scrambles to stave off Amazon, or at Marriott and Hilton doing the same with Airbnb. Look at Tesla and its software fix to its hardware problem. It's already here, altering survival dynamics and giving rise to entirely new paradigms.

This was last published in September 2017

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