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DevOps and continuous deployment: How one company saved hundreds of hours on each deployment

MichaelGarrett

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By Michael Garrett

 

DevOps continues to gain traction in the industry, as numerous “State of DevOps” surveys bear out. But behind the statistics lies a more complicated reality. Many global brands struggle to release applications quickly enough—or without issues. When the applications in question are customer facing, these challenges can result in millions of dollars of impact.

 

In our DevOps practice, we’ve helped numerous customers and their IT organisations find their entry point to DevOps. Whatever onramp you take, implementing DevOps in one area can result in tremendous cost savings and efficiency gains that will accelerate your journey.  Here’s a look at how one global brand zeroed in on continuous deployment and showed quick wins that are driving a more extensive DevOps transformation.

 

Savings from continual deployment

Last year at HP Discover Barcelona, our HP Software Professional Services team met with a global retailer. (We hold a number of DevOps Transformation Workshops at these events, but you can request one at any time.) Initially this customer wanted us to help them implement continuous testing. But it soon became clear that their biggest pain points were in deployment and that’s where they could realize the greatest savings to the business. For example, we eliminated 250 manual hours from each deployment on one of their major applications. That’s a huge savings. They improved the quality of their releases significantly, and their velocity increased.

 

They also reduced the length of time it took to deploy. With all the manual steps involved, it took five hours to deploy in the operational environment. When each deployment takes five hours, you’re constrained on a number of fronts. You don’t want to deploy at certain times of day or days of the week due to the potential impact if something goes wrong. But we’ve reduced deployment time for our customer from five hours to two minutes and 27 seconds. So now they can do multiple deployments in a day.

 

Lastly, by automating key processes, this pilot program was able to improve quality substantially. Automation ensures that the quality of the deployment is always the same. In the past, this retailer had issues every single time it deployed these applications. They would have to address the issues and go through the deployment process again, draining resources. But now the customer is able to deploy once without errors. As a result, their production environment is much more stable, increasing impact even more. (For more on how DevOps can add value to the business, see the video Deconstructing DevOps: What it means for IT teams.)

 

 

3 DevOps takeaways

Our success with our customer illustrates three broad principles for succeeding with DevOps in established enterprises.  

  1. Establish a strategic framework: When you have an overall strategic framework, you can start small while thinking big. Focus on a discrete pain points. In the case of our global retailer, the greatest and most immediate gains could be found by eliminating manual steps in deployment. We started our engagement by making a complete assessment of their current mode of operations with a Transformation Workshop. They explained what their processes were in detail. This assessment enabled us to plan a future mode of operations in which many of these processes were automated.
  1. Show results: In the case of our customer, we were able to show tangible results within eight to ten weeks. In any large enterprise there will be politics and multiple stakeholders. You want to be able to show that your program is impacting the bottom line—that’s the way to get stakeholders on board and get buy in for the next steps in the DevOps journey.
  1. Manage the change: Many DevOps thought leaders have written that the primary transformation wrought by DevOps is cultural rather than technological. Every DevOps initiative is an opportunity to look at how culture can give you additional momentum. In the case of our retailer, much of the app development was outsourced, so we made sure that everyone understood the project and was speaking the same language. Managing change is essential for success.

Look to most immediate opportunities for DevOps improvements

Our enterprise customers have complex environments but they face a core set of challenges. Everyone is trying to accelerate their time to market and at the same time improve quality. (For instance, nearly every customer we work with has challenges with integration and testing, and I’ll write more about test coverage in a future blog post.)

 

Everyone has low-hanging fruit in some area. For instance, many organisations have completely manual processes in deployment—opportunities for inefficiency and error. Eliminating manual steps here can bring tremendous results very quickly. Such was the case with our global retailer customer. Impressive results with continuous deployment have built momentum for their ongoing DevOps journey.

 

To learn more, schedule a DevOps Transformation Workshop, or watch the Discover Performance video, Deconstructing DevOps: What it means for IT teams.

 

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MichaelGarrett

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