'Dev and Ops are the most oxymoronic things that you can put together'

Abhilash Purushothaman, Country Director & Head of Devops, India & SAARC Region, CA Technologies and Richard Gerdis, Vice President-DevOps, Asia Pacific & Japan for CA Technologies spoke to CIO&Leader on the state of adoption of DevOps in India

What is spurring interest in DevOps in India? Do you see any difference between rest of the world and India?
Abhilash: There are multiple areas in which DevOps in India has kicked off in the last 18 months, with the banking sector leading the charge. This is primarily due to regulatory changes, arrival of payment banks, increasing deregulation, and the spread of omni-channel banking. Banks have really forced innovation, and this trend is similar to what we have observed in Singapore and the US.
The other vertical that I see picking up is the government. We also see interesting digital initiatives happening in Digital India as well as some other citizen-centric programs such as GST, UDAI, app-based programs, etc. For the government, it’s not about money but speed-to-market and quality of the app.
Richard: Across the Asia-Pacific, we see  the adoption of DevOps across financial services, government and telcos. Just like in India, the speed-to-market is really important. There is also a mobile-first strategy trend among our customer base across the region—and to deliver a good customer experience.
 
What are the main challenges in adopting DevOps within organizations?
Abhilash: Dev and Ops are the most oxymoronic things that you can put together. Dev talks about agility, change, and speed whereas Ops talks about stability. So, there is serious trust deficit between the two teams. No Operations team likes change—and don’t see testing as part of their job.
The biggest mantra to get DevOps up and running effectively is the successful collaboration between Dev and Ops. If you can test and find problems early in the cycle, Ops can release it with more confidence. So, the more you shift left, everybody benefits.
Richard: If you are able to solve a problem in development, it is financially beneficial than solving the problem in production. Our solutions give you great insights into user statistics and performance. We can identify and solve problems before the users have those problems.
 
What are the popular tools and techniques that are being used for DevOps today?
Abhilash: A lot of large enterprises as well as start-ups have already embarked on the DevOps journey—they just don’t realize that they are doing it. They call it by many other names such as continuous integration, continuous delivery, collaborative operation or agile. Typically, the tools that they use are centered on creating a consistent and predictable development to operations transition, and putting in a collaborative platform where the Devs side can communicate with Ops that focuses on uptime, SLA, etc.
Now, to make that happen, you got to have a very robust engine that enables you to write quality test cases and deliver them. You also need to make sure your test cases are covering all the scenarios so that they are not caught at the production time. Further, you need to make sure you have a testing environment that enables you to test in parallel, and not in sequence. So, you need to have parallel development, parallel testing and automated deployment once you have deployed a way to automatically monitor the infrastructure.
 
What is the difference between performance analytics and experience analytics?
Abhilash: From within the datacenter, the operations team gets an ‘inside-out view’ or ‘performance view’. Then there is a view that the end-user of the application gets, which is called ‘outside-in view’ or ‘analytics view’. Both are completely different. In the past, people have usually focused on the ‘inside-out view’. For instance, Application Performance Measurement (APM) is actually an ‘inside-out view’. But experience analytics is an ‘outside-in view.’ You have to converge the ‘inside-out view’ with the ‘outside-in view’ to get a better understanding on where you stand.
Richard: From a performance perspective, an app could be performing quite well but the user experience may not be a 5-star one. For example, while commuting to work daily, one may take public transport, so the way you use a mobile app will be different (since it will mainly be used in one hand). Users will still use their mobile devices but will not navigate the same because they are using one hand, and cannot reach the top of the pane of glass of a mobile phone. While the application is performing, it is not necessarily providing a good user experience. So, maybe you want to place the buttons in a different place. It is in situations like these that you start to see the real benefit of performance and user experience analytics.
 
What are the recommended best practices for DevOps?
Abhilash: Speaking from the Indian context, we advise CIOs and the leadership team to pick a difficult problem, and be very outcome-focused; show tangible benefits, and use it as a stepping stone to enterprise-wide projects. Don’t get bogged down by a very ambitious project.
Richard: If you start early, you can stop the cycles of re-development later on, and protect your brand, engage both Dev and Ops, and get the cultural aspect and collaboration going. You will see the benefits. Many studies have demonstrated that those who embark on the DevOps journey are seeing the results in the back-end. 


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