Microsoft business partners urged to use DevOps opportunities

Addressing business partners at Inspire, Microsoft and DORA drove home the importance of DevOps and the need for Microsoft business partners to display DevOps expertise.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Microsoft and the DevOps Research and Assessment organization preached the gospel of DevOps to an audience of Microsoft partners at the company's Inspire partner conference.

Microsoft Inspire drew more than 17,000 partners looking for information about how to better team up with the software giant and tap into the lucrative Microsoft partner ecosystem -- where Microsoft claims for every one dollar of Microsoft revenue generated, the partner ecosystem generates $9.01.

With the help of Nicole Forsgren, CEO and chief scientist at DORA, Microsoft's Sam Guckenheimer, product owner for Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS), described to partners the benefits of developing DevOps expertise.

Forsgren -- whose organization features DevOps gurus such as Gene Kim, Jez Humble and Nigel Kersten, and is jointly responsible for the annual State of DevOps reports -- called DevOps the "new CxO opportunity" and said organizations that cannot provide DevOps are not relevant, because they will struggle to provide continuous delivery of value to end users. Forsgren also noted that DevOps opportunities abound for high-performing organizations.

DevOps challenges call for partnering, assistance

There are so many challenges in achieving alignment across development and operations in working through an enterprise DevOps transformation that it is often worthwhile to pull in outside assistance.
Rhett Dillinghamsenior analyst for cloud services at Moor Insights & Strategy

"There are so many challenges in achieving alignment across development and operations in working through an enterprise DevOps transformation that it is often worthwhile to pull in outside assistance," said Rhett Dillingham, senior analyst for cloud services at Moor Insights and Strategy. "Microsoft partners have a great opportunity to assist in enterprise DevOps transformations by connecting an organization's people and process changes to supporting Microsoft and/or third-party tooling, including consulting services and/or custom integration work for use with Azure cloud services or traditional Windows environments."

Indeed, there are more DevOps opportunities because more enterprises are seeing the benefit of bringing together people, process, technology and culture to ensure continuous delivery, Forsgren said in her Microsoft Inspire talk.

Since 2012, DORA, along with Puppet, has produced an annual State of DevOps report and has amassed more than 27,000 data points on DevOps based on interviews and surveys with hundreds of developers and users. Data from the 2017 report showed that more than half the people surveyed said their organizations are using practices that resemble DevOps and are seeing positive results from it.

High-performing DevOps teams soar ahead

Although the simple use of DevOps-like practices can lead -- even minimally -- to positive results, those results are dwarfed by what Forsgren referred to as "high-performing" teams, which "continue to achieve both faster throughput and better stability" than teams that are less involved with DevOps.

For instance, high-performing teams experienced 46 times faster code deployments, 440 times faster lead times from code commit to code deploy and 96 times faster mean times to recovery from downtime than lesser-performing teams, she said.

Forsgren also said lead time for high performers to make changes to their products, as well as lead time to recovery, is typically less than an hour. And whereas high performers may deploy as many as thousands of times a day, low performers are deploying as slowly as once a week, she said.

According to the DORA study, DevOps practitioners in commercial settings are two times more likely to achieve or exceed their goals in productivity, profitability, market share and number of customers, Forsgren said. And for noncommercial organizations, those that practice DevOps are twice as likely to achieve or exceed product and service quality goals, as well as operating efficiency, customer satisfaction and their organizational mission goals, she said.

The journey starts with continuous integration

In a demonstration of VSTS, Guckenheimer showed that a DevOps workflow for a developer in a modern organization starts with a pull request. He then showed how a developer could use VSTS to build, test, deploy and monitor his code.

Guckenheimer also told partners to try out Microsoft's DevOps self-assessment tool to get a sense of where they are in the DevOps journey. That assessment offers a link to the DORA data, so organizations can see where they stand on DevOps relative to the industry as a whole.

Asked how to get a customer involved in DevOps, Guckenheimer said it's a process that starts with continuous integration.

"If they are doing manual builds, have them start automating the builds," he said. "Then, they will start producing more builds than they can test." That will lead to automated testing, which will then lead to automation down the line, "where the next point of pain is."

Dillingham said Microsoft is prepared to help enterprises on their DevOps journeys because the company "has done a nice job of building their brand as a DevOps thought leader over the past few years via introduction of tools and services, partnerships with top third-party tooling providers -- Chef, Puppet, Docker, etc. -- and evangelism of their own internal product team shifts to DevOps."

DevOps as a boon to application security

Meanwhile, both Forsgren and Guckenheimer noted the importance of DevOps for application security, including integrating security into software delivery work, thus introducing more DevOps opportunities for partners.

"Shifting left in security is impacting organizational performance," she said. "If you shift left on security, it is productive in improvements in throughput and security." Shifting left is the process of addressing an issue earlier in the cycle.

Guckenheimer said this means security is no longer a conversation for just the chief information security officer in an organization, but a conversation for the entire engineering team.

"Last year, we found that high performers spend 50% less time remediating security issues than low performers," the 2017 State of DevOps report said. "We were able to validate that again this year. These results point to the need to involve security and quality teams in the development process early and often."

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