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DevOps: Five roles and responsibilities enterprises can't overlook

By: Joe Panettieri


Even if your business employs rock star software developers and IT operations experts, you still have to take some key steps to create DevOps harmony between those two talented groups.


Indeed, DevOps is about communication, collaboration, integration, automation, and cooperation. But sometimes, that effort can turn into missed deadlines, inefficient testing, buggy code, and bad software deployments—triggering mutiny among your user base and perhaps even undermining your revenue-producing applications.


Enterprise software codeVictory vs. defeat

What's the difference between success and failure? Similar to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, your journey is all about aligning the right people with the right processes to drive continuous software innovations—many of which could involve customer-facing applications.


Or as Rich Gilbert, vice president of information technology infrastructure and operations at HP recently put it, with DevOps, companies are essentially saying:

"Let's figure out how we can do continuous development, continuous integration, and be able to optimize some of our processes to drive releases into the market quicker and add value, and significantly reduce right time to value across the, you know, ecosystem between applications and operations."

Generally speaking, DevOps teams, processes, and IT systems have five levels of maturity. During stage one, things start out chaotic—lacking the right processes and automation. But each stage gradually gets better, with self-service automation really driving productivity if you push to the highest maturity level.


Who's doing the DevOps work?

Still, every journey from mediocrity to greatness requires a focused leader and a talented team. So, who is responsible for driving DevOps from its earliest, lowest stages to its most optimized stage? Here are five potential roles and responsibilities to track:


1. VP of getting things done: Poke around the typical enterprise and you'll increasingly find either a VP of operations or a VP of DevOps leading the overall charge. Look around a bit more, and you may instead find a VP of product or VP of engineering leading the rally cry. At one mid-market company, I also spotted a chief data officer (CDO) leading up the effort.


Either way, you must designate somebody to be the keeper of those best practices—the overall guardian of this effort. That person, typically at the VP level or higher, drives the overall product delivery pipeline. And in this case, the product is continuous, high-quality software innovation.


2. The four trusted lieutenants: Here, you'll often find an automation expert, a code release expert (aka project manager), an architect who really understands your enterprise IT systems and/or the cloud, plus an integration specialist. Of course, each role may have multiple employees.


  • Your automation experts identify preferred tools and processes to transform manual tasks into automated outcomes. As more automation takes hold, it's easier and easier to deliver higher-quality code with each new development sprint.
  • Your code release experts are next-generation project managers. They've evolved from a linear project mindset to a continuous improvement mindset. In short, your project managers are now agile managers who provide visibility into DevOps tasks, metrics, and progress.
  • Your architects identify how to best harness compute, network, and storage resources for your software innovations, on-premise or in the cloud.
  • Your integration gurus take multiple pieces of software (similar to parts of a car) and then bolt them together on an assembly line—in this case, on your staging servers for testing.

3. Quality assurance (QA): For the most part, your four lieutenants will be deeply involved in quality assurance. Yes, you'll also need QA testers to verify and document bug reports. But QA is far more than a bug hunt. It's also about making sure your developed software has the features and functions that were in the design spec.


4. Security and compliance leaders: In the age of corporate compliance (Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, and more), you can't roll out new applications or code enhancements in a vacuum. Security and compliance team members must be part of the process, reviewing how the new code may impact an enterprise's overall security stance.


5. Overall operations: Here again, you'll need a centralized dashboard where you can give specific IT operations team members a look at where all development projects and deployments stand—and perhaps even weigh in on metrics, milestones, goals, and more.


Once these five core roles are in place, you can start that five-stage journey from DevOps anarchy to true maturity. During each stage, remember that speeding up software development is only part of the goal. Bolster software quality while maintaining security, and your business has truly come become a modern enterprise.


Visit HP Infrastructure Insights to get the latest insights and updates on HP and the New Style of Business.



About the author

Joe PanettieriJoe Panettieri


Joe Panettieri is content czar at After Nines Inc., providing strategic IT guidance from 9:01 daily. As a journalist, analyst and IT media entrepreneur, he has tracked enterprise IT issues since 1992.

About the author

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 Follow me on Twitter joepanettieri          Connect with me on LinkedIn View profile

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