VMworld is here! The packed schedule today starts with our CEO, Pat Gelsinger, who will present the general session, “Competitive Advantage in the Multi-Cloud Era – Connecting People, Apps & Data to Propel your Business Forward”.
If you are still working out what breakout sessions to attend this afternoon, you shouldn’t miss these two sessions from VMware customers who are going through their own multi-cloud transformation and have built out strategies to transform their organization for the digital era.
American Tire Distributors: Our Journey to a Modern Private Cloud
Monday, August 30th, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM As an organization experiencing rapid growth, American Tire Distributors (ATD) recognized the need to modernize their infrastructure platform to support the changing needs of their business.
Starting with a holistic assessment of their IT organization across people, process and technology, ATD worked with VMware to create an actionable and collaborative roadmap for the modernization of their private cloud.
Join ATD’s VP of IT Operations, Ravi Ramaraj, as he shares his experiences and practical advice across:
Value found in starting with an actionable assessment
Establishing a strategy and plan for SDDC transformation
Modernizing their data center
Adopting a service oriented IT model with defined services, automation and security
Monday, August 30th, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
How can a Southern Bank compete with Wall Street? They need to be fast, agile, and drive a culture of innovation and change.
SunTrust has built an environment that will create immense value to its customers by delivering on a vision of a stable and efficient cloud that enables its development team to build world-class applications.
Listen to Bryan Clements, Senior Vice President of Sun Trust, discuss how he has created an internal focus on innovation and testing new ideas to help their customers. Bryan will discuss:
His vision of the multi-year transformation journey that he is enabling and how the new wave of applications are creating opportunities for his business.
The operational efficiencies needed to build their forward compatible cloud, and the value of the developer-focused model.
How a DevOps model is influencing the culture changes needed to drive this type of platform.
Join Our DevOps Experts at VMworld 2016 for Real-World Advice and Customer Stories to Improve the Agility and Velocity of Application Delivery
Increasing the speed, quality and reliability of application delivery is, or should be, on the agenda of every IT organization this year. To help our customers build a strategy for this evolution, a DevOps track has been added to the VMworld agenda for 2016 featuring sessions spanning a wide range of topics related to transforming your application delivery process.
Download this handy guide to DevOps Sessions at VMworld 2016 to take with you next week, or use the links below to add these sessions to your agenda via the VMworld Schedule Builder.
At VMworld 2016, IT leaders will join their peers to learn about strategies for meeting the growing requirements of their businesses in the digital era.
In addition to the valuable networking and thought-provoking conversations that happen at VMworld, you can take advantage of a full slate of breakout sessions. These sessions can help you build a comprehensive IT strategy and roadmap for digital transformation.
The theme of VMworld 2016 is be_Tomorrow. As we’ve talked about in many previous blog posts, it’s no secret that the demands on IT are changing and that IT leaders need to evolve their strategies or risk the decline of their company’s market position and the loss of relevance for internal IT.
For IT leaders attending VMworld, I hope to offer you a couple of unconventional ways of fostering discussion with your peers around the pressing challenges you’re facing today.
Unpanel: How I Survived the DevOps Transition
Wednesday, August 31st – 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
If you’ve ever joined an Unpanel before, you know you’re in for some lively discussion – and to be prepared at any moment to jump up on stage!
Join me and my colleagues, Ed Hoppitt of Battlebots (and VMware) fame and Tom Hite who leads VMware’s DevOps and Open Cloud Services team, as we moderate a dynamic exchange between IT practitioners and their development counterparts. You will hear about the dos, don’ts, and gotchas from both perspectives.
We will invite you to participate with your opinions and insights, and you might become part of the panel.
Experience the Business Impact of IT Innovation & Transformation in this Live Interactive Simulation
Wednesday, August 31st – 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Join your peers in IT leadership for a live interactive simulation where you get to experiment on what series of IT initiatives will lead to the greatest impact on business revenue and IT costs. This is a unique experiential learning session.
Using a software-based simulation platform, I will team up with my colleague, Andy Troup of VMware Operations Transformation Services, to present you with a variety of IT innovation project options, representing a wide spectrum from developing cloud capabilities to advanced micro-segmentation. Acting as a company with a set budget for operating expenses and innovation, your team will choose which projects to focus and then see the results of your selections.
Will revenue increase because you were able to speed time to market? Will your operating expenses increase or decrease? Will you experience set-backs if you focus on one area but neglect others?
Test your IT strategy theories, participate in lively discussions about today’s options in IT, and walk away with tips for how to build a roadmap for innovation that will work for your organization.
For a number of years the perception among businesses that internal IT is unable or incapable of delivering to their needs (particularly for new and emerging requirements) has led them to bypass internal IT and source their solutions directly from external vendors. This is commonly referred to as Shadow IT.
According to most analysts (see references below), the shadow is now bigger than original object that cast the shadow, which only happens during the final hours of sunset (an interesting analogy) and has brought about the joke that the title CIO stands for “Career is Over”. Synonymous with this is the rise of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and application development teams, who are becoming more embedded in the lines of business.
How and why has this happened and what can Enterprise IT and the CIO do to reverse this trend? Or is it too late?
Why is Shadow IT So Prevalent?
Ten to fifteen years ago, for the vast majority of businesses, IT and technology ran the business. By this I mean they ran the business systems, such as HR, CRM, inventory management, financial systems and logistics. There were a few notable exceptions such as mobile operators, media companies, investment banking and the likes of Thomson Reuters, for whom IT and technology was/is the business. In those cases, the revenue generating services that they provided were dependent on IT and technology.
This is even more true today. There are few, if any, businesses that do not rely on technology and IT of some sort to deliver business services to their customers, partners and channels or use IT to provide technology or IT services to enhance the customer experience. This is part of what is often referred to as the Digital Revolution. So why haven’t internal IT departments benefited from the increasing dependence of the business on IT and technology
There are a number of reasons for this. In no particular order these include:
A focus on the stability and reliability of IT systems, and the processes and procedures that support them, at the expense of agility has led to a perception that in-house IT is unable to react at the speed of business. This is despite the fact that technology has moved considerably in the direction of delivering agility combined with reliability and availability.
Organisational silos in IT make the organisation rigid and unable to react to the changing needs of the business.
A one size fits all approach to IT operations. The push for standardisation and shared services to improve IT operational efficiency has led to a one size fits all approach to IT operations, governance, security and application development/delivery.
A focus on IT operational efficiency rather than focusing on end to end business benefits and linking IT investment to business gain (market share, margin and revenue). This is often at the expense of user experience and business outcomes.
A lack of clear understanding of the IT and technology needs of the business and the clear articulation of this to all in IT. Without this, it’s impossible to articulate to the business of the value that internal IT delivers.
This has led to the lines of business looking elsewhere to fulfill their technology and IT needs. Most CIO’s and IT departments that I speak to complain of ever increasing pressure to reduce spending on IT and cut costs. However, many analysts point to an increasing spend on technology and IT (see references below). So where is the money going?
The answer is what we call Shadow IT, but so we can hardly call it “Shadow” any more. Most analysts point out that Shadow IT spend is now greater than the CIO’s IT spend. It is well and truly mainstream.
5 Steps To Reverse This Trend
It may sound blindingly obvious, but the first step is to get a clear understanding of the needs and KPIs of the business and how IT maps into that. From this it is possible to start mapping IT spend into business benefits and making the case for IT investments.
The next step is to understand that not all applications are equal. Simon Wardley does an excellent job of explaining what I mean in his blog. Organisations need to take a good look at their application portfolio, what categories they drop into, what their natural lifecycle is and where they are in that lifecycle. This will help to build a multi-modal IT strategy based on the needs of the business and the applications that support the business services.
Next we need to switch to a user experience and business outcomes approach to defining and developing IT services rather than features and functions and a sole focus on IT operational efficiency.
Next recognise that in-house is not always the best answer. Sometimes the best solution is a third party service and so you need to build an architecture to support a service broker function. In this way IT can ensure that the business gets the best solution for its needs while ensuring that corporate governance, security, audit and compliance requirements are all meet, something that is often compromised by Shadow IT.
The final step is to build an organisation and multiple sets of operational procedures and processes (reflecting multi modal operational requirements) to support all of the above. A key part of this transformation is a clear focus on a service-driven organisation designed around the need to support business services and needs of the business.
To be clear this is not a case of tweaking minor parts of the IT organisation of a typical enterprise. This is a major transformation, but this is your only hope to stop the increasing marginalisation of internal IT and the role of the CIO.
If the IT organisation is able to make this transformation it will lead to a massive increase in investment in the IT organization, redirecting the business IT spend away from third party vendors and back to the IT organisation. This leads to a massive change in perception of the contribution of the IT organisation to the business.
If you need help applying these principles to your orgnaisation, VMware’s Advisory Services can help you build a strategy and roadmap to undertake the transformation needed to move to a business focused IT delivery organization, maximising the value (and perceived value) of the internal IT organisation within the business.
Avanade – Global Survey: What’s creating tension between IT and business leaders
Begin a New Life as an Innovation Services Team and Deliver the Experience Your Customers Feel Entitled To
By Heman Smith
What is meant by customer experience – for those whom IT serves?
Today’s customers are used to immediate access to an app, typically via a mobile device, immediate ability to execute a task, and immediate results. This delivers satisfaction and a positive customer experience. Every industry is experiencing this, with nearly any transaction type you can imagine: banking, healthcare, retail, hospitality, travel and more. Surprisingly, this perceived expectation of immediacy is also spreading rapidly to sectors commonly considered slow to change and respond to change: public sector, utilities, military, etc.
Perception is reality – because people make decisions based on what they perceive to be true. Customers (internal and external) will now often choose the path to easiest results and lowest cost, with less loyalty and commitment than ever before.
What must be done for IT to regain its “preferred provider” status?
Whether we like it or not, IT is not always seen as the business’ preferred provider. In-house IT is no longer seen as a “must-have”. Alternatives not only exist, but are expanding and becoming equivalently mature and capable (SaaS, cloud-native apps in the public cloud, etc.). What must IT do now to develop and provide new value to replace its old role and charter?
Optimize Core Services
Immediately and aggressively optimize the core services IT offers that support easy application development, deployment, access and consumption:
Support any app/any device/anytime/anywhere (ie: EUC via solutions such as VMware’s Workspace ONE)
Application-focused security based on modern, multi/hybrid cloud-data center network models (VMware’s Airwatch, NSX, etc.)
IT-as-a-Business practices: show-back, charge-back, etc.
Embrace the Innovation Services Brand and Mindset
Move away from the legacy name and identity of IT (Information Technology), and adopt a new stance or brand as “Innovation Services”, leading the charge to provide capabilities-as-services needed by the business, using a best resource model as appropriate (developed, or brokered). Much of this change is leadership and culture driven, with process re-design and technology choices supporting the decisions made.
This approach requires the practice of teams counseling together to create an ideal process for delivering more ideal outcomes; both (1) internal to the teams themselves, making their lives easier, and (2) external to the end customer, making their lives easier. This delivers better customer experience to each party!
Because of this shift in stance, the choice of technologies made by the team(s) is determined by the needed outcome, and how well a technology can rapidly, easily and cost effectively enable that outcome.
Will that cause a lot of technology loyalty shift? Yes.
Must vendors respond by being on-point to support that speed and adaptability in order for their IT customers to deliver better experience and outcomes? Absolutely!
The applications people use, coupled with ubiquitous mobility – are driving the pace of business and IT. DevOps is a response to that opportunity and pressure.
Develop Your DevOps Model… Now
IT must leap into supporting and accelerating the successful adoption of an appropriate-fit DevOps model in order to be of real value to the business. If Infrastructure Services teams don’t clearly understand this mandate, and rapidly take the stance of championing DevOps, then the application development side of the house will find other resources. This change is not optional; it is already underway, and will occur rapidly in the near future whether or not traditional IT teams want it.
If IT doesn’t rapidly respond to this need and change, its chance to be the business’ preferred provider will disappear because some new, successful, out-sourced or internally-stood-up alternative will be entrenched, and change will be seen as too difficult, or unnecessary.
What does this mean for me as an IT leader, and what can I do today?
Delivering exceptional customer experience must be the new mantra and reality for any effective IT leader, and thus for their IT organization. Becoming an “Innovation Services” team, instead of old-fashioned technology maintenance team is the key.
Focus on reducing friction in how any “consumer” (internal / external) accesses and consumes the new services (EUC, IaaS, PaaS, DevOps, etc.). The very mindset of IT staff must shift from habitually operating from a “keep it up and running” mentality – operations first, and adopt a new framework.
Innovation Services now focuses on:
How can we make “this” (whatever service “this” may refer to) easier to do, access, support, etc.?
How can we make consumption more appealing, more cost effective, more transparent?
How can we make us and our services as invisible as possible?
And, as I often hear during consulting conversations with frustrated IT leaders: “How can we function more like, so we can compete with, Amazon?”
Mindset is a critical first step: Words have power. So take a stand, make a commitment, and step up to a different future. Craft a vision of opportunity, and invite each member of IT to step into becoming part of the new Innovation Services organization.
Thinking through, and adopting a proven model for change as an Innovation Services provider is the second step. VMware has leading practices and services that assist with this.
Part 1: Optimizing demand management to deliver “Just in Time” cloud service provisioning.
By Bill Irvine
A common phrase overheard during the creation of new cloud based innovation environments for modernized applications is “build it and they will come”.
The surprise for many IT organizations is that they do come and the challenge becomes dealing with that success and the on-going management of their new environments. Many organizations do not operationalize their capabilities or establish the governance processes they need to be successful as a cloud service provider by the time the technology goes live.
Common Complaints about Cloud Services
In my work with customers designing solutions to address the needs of their business via cloud-based innovation, we hear a consistent list of concerns.
“We are always blindsided by requests that we don’t have the capacity to fulfill – it came out of nowhere”
“We never get enough specific information from the business on what they want until it’s too late”
“They always want to over-provision the environments – we’re always in negotiation mode on resource requirements”
“There’s never enough capacity to meet the business and operational demand”
“Nobody ever gives back resources – even when we know they’re not being used”
“There’s never enough budget to buy capacity when we need it”
“We are always getting escalations about the speed of provisioning and spend most of our time reacting to delayed and unfulfilled requests”
“We have to wait for approvals for every piece of the PaaS puzzle”
“Everything we do is custom which makes it impossible to automate”
These and a host of similar issues relate to a common theme – the need for effective demand, capacity and request management to ensure a standardized, streamlined, consistent and automated approach to service provisioning.
In this blog series, we will cover each of the key processes in the lifecycle and their importance in creating an IT service brokerage model that can always support the dynamic business demand. The expectations on IT have never been greater.
Communication is Key to Demand Management
The primary goal of demand management is to understand the pipeline of service requirements from the business and to interpret these needs into a predictable forecast of consumption. This forecast becomes a vital part of ensuring that IT always has the capacity to fulfill the evolving requirements and requests.
Sounds easy enough, but the challenge in predicting demand for most organizations is the difference in language between the Line of Business (LOB), the development teams supporting them and the infrastructure providers charged with hosting the services.
IT capacity planners want technical specifications and details of the individual resource components (CPU, Memory, Storage etc.) required in order to ensure the appropriate configuration of resources in the correct “landing zones”.
The business representatives however, typically present their needs in terms of market growth, marketing initiatives that may drive increases in transactions or potential decreases in business volume based on the seasonality of the service supported. These needs are rarely static by nature and evolve over time from conception to reality.
The conversion of business and service needs into technical resource requirements is often more art than science and relies on effective communication and collaboration between a broad group of stakeholders to continuously interpret, structure and mature demand data into knowledge that can be acted upon.
IT needs to interact proactively with the stakeholders to identify demand as early as possible at its source. This source data should be documented in a system of record so that it can be tracked, aligned by service and updated as more detailed information becomes available. Demand data is progressed through a maturity funnel where requirements are codified, refined, validated, prioritized and compared against historical patterns & trends. This enables the initial business data to be transformed into technical resource requirements and actionable plans.
Demand Maturity Concepts
In order to create a comprehensive and contextual picture of current and future business and service demand, requirements should be subjected to a series of analytical steps to refine the demand.
Fig 1. Demand Maturity Funnel
Capture data from all available sources. Different sources will have differing levels of specificity from business concept to actual service performance data.
Understand the sources (e.g. LOB, Service data, etc.) to enable comparisons and correlation with past requirements. Grouping requirements by service should become the overall organizing principle to help make sense of the overall demand.
Develop, configure and size a logical grouping of resources into a service offering (e.g. Infrastructure or Platform as a Service) to simplify the calculation of future needs and enable IT to better standardize and automate the provisioning processes. Pre-defined service offerings also provide the opportunity to steer the customer towards preferred solutions that are more efficient and cost effective.
Identify patterns of business activity (PBA) for each service and develop educated assumptions as to future needs through the analysis of past requirements, requests and configurations. It’s OK to make assumptions, the business is often guessing at the early stages. Even placeholder information can be valuable especially early in the funnel. Assumptions can be validated and adjusted over the life of the requirement.
Develop LOB user profiles and analyze their service usage patterns to further refine the understanding of the needs and requests.
Understand existing patterns of business activity, prior demand and the technical profile of related platforms consumed by the specific business unit, the applications supporting the service and the volume of transactions to form an evolutionary pipeline or funnel.
Demand requirements managed through these activities will provide IT the confidence to commit to more aggressive service levels and guarantees regarding capacity and associated cloud resource provisioning.
Key Demand Management Roles
As mentioned, there are many parties and stakeholders involved in managing demand effectively. The most obvious and often overlooked stakeholders are the lines of business themselves. IT’s continuous interaction with the business is key to their improved understanding of the customer needs and to break the cycle of being reactive and unresponsive.
Two of the key roles to ensure this ongoing relationship and demand based dialog are the Business Relationship Manager (BRM) and the Service Owner. These roles are critical to understanding the patterns of business and service activity and ensuring appropriate capacity and capability on a service-by-service basis.
The BRM has a primary responsibility to represent all of elements of IT and the associated service provision and performance to the business function. They are responsible for orchestrating the capture of demand from the business and assisting in the conversion of these needs into the technical capacity that meets the expectations. BRM activities in support of demand prediction include:
Identification of customer needs
Capture of planned projects and initiatives
Communicating changes in service profiles or volumes
“Selling” the improvements in service capabilities and helping to influence customer behavior and optimize the business usage of the services provided.
The Service Owner ensures that there is an understanding and awareness of the service as a whole, who utilizes the service, how it supports the business functions, the service capabilities and the current service performance. The Service Owner will be responsible for:
Quantification and codification of the overall service needs, resource proportions, configuration and operational dynamics to optimize the performance of the production service
Key input into decisions regarding resource capacity and configuration changes required
Creation of the environment profiles and service offerings used in the downstream environments (e.g. Dev, Test, QA) as required by the development and operational functions
Demand Management Benefits
Implemented successfully, demand management will enable improvements across all aspects of service provisioning but especially in the areas of capacity and request fulfillment.
Some of the key benefits include:
Increased customer satisfaction with services and requests being provisioned without the delays inherent in a reactive environment
Improved and faster understanding of service and business requirements with demand being objectively quantified
Capacity based risk is identified and addressed throughout the course of the above activities
Accurate demand and capacity trending will reduce “over-provisioning” and provide more accurate budgetary planning data to optimize resource / infrastructure costs
Basis for JIT (Just In Time) purchasing and release of capacity using confidence-driven forecasts
Improved alignment with business goals giving an accurate “picture” of demand activities required to enable business goal attainment
Increased confidence in allocation of IT resources and their readiness for service provision
So how do you get started with improving demand management? Some proven initial steps developed with our customers include:
Start talking to the business customers and associated development teams to open the dialog and establish the process
Enhance standard requirements capture with each line of business defining their requirements by service
Capture future needs and updates earlier in the lifecycle to feed the forecasting process
Update the guidelines for all requirements capture to be consistent regardless of type (e.g. innovation, run, grow etc.) in a common format for input into demand planning
Establish improved methods for collecting trend based run and growth requirements by service.
Develop Patterns of Business Activity for each service and monitor key performance and consumption metrics to model current and future operational needs.
Analyze and redefine the real-time metrics you collect to better track and report against ongoing capacity use, headroom requirements and growth
In my next post in the series, I will discuss the capacity management stage of lifecycle, focusing on the conversion of demand into capacity requirements and optimization of the overall capacity plan.
Bill Irvine is a Principal Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Colorado.
In part 1 of this two-part series we discussed how economists use many formal models to calculate ROI (Return on Investment), TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), as well as some of the methods for determining IT Business Value and payback periods. In this post we’ll dig into the areas that can delay or prevent you and your organization from realizing the projected benefits from this ROI activity.
It’s critical that your ROI initiative has a communication plan that clearly communicates the status, timing and risks to the ROI initiative on a regular basis. It’s not unusual for IT organizations to spend a lot of upfront effort to get business approval to proceed with an initiative, disappear and later back pedal on why the ROI initiative failed.
Potential Risks to ROI
There are a number of risk areas that can potentially impact the realization and value of an ROI initiative.
Changes in the business may cancel/delay the ROI initiative. The initial ROI may be based on spending money that has a longer payback period then the business is now willing to take on in the current budget reporting cycle.
Describes the people component of ROI initiatives. A lack of training or not having the right people to execute and manage the project results in project timelines that are delayed. Additional unplanned staff costs can be incurred in order to rework or complete the initiative. Consider adding the cost of using Professional Services firms that have the expertise to accelerate the project as part of the initial ROI calculations to avoid these often costly unplanned costs.
Requirements change due to unforeseen circumstances or new industry related compliance requirements that present themselves after project kick off, and additional resources (Technology/People/Funding) are required to complete the ROI initiative. This additional resource requirement may wipe out any of the original ROI benefits due to unplanned delays or costs.
Priorities can simply change and management’s commitment to support and funding can be delayed or cancelled. Having a solid communication plan in place keeps the initiative on managements radar and reduces the chances that their interest will wane.
Market changes and competitive pressures or new customer demand may cause management to delay or cancel the project. Resources (people/funding) can get diverted from IT to other areas of the business.
Political infighting or parent company relationships may limit ROI benefits. There can be a dependency on the business unit to use technology/services that benefit the parent company, increasing costs at the subsidiary level and reducing the ROI benefit. For example, if the parent company institutes an accounting package that enables simplified reporting across all of its subsidiaries, the costs increase to maintain and implement this system and impacts any resource savings.
Reliance by the current ROI initiative on a different project or initiative is a common risk. Key resources (people/time/money) can be tied up which can impact the projected ROI of our current initiative.
Implementation related ROI activities can be affected by chosen technology that is not compatible with an existing system (not uncommon). Or the new technology could have limited scalability and can’t handle the current or projected system demand. A simple example is the case of existing switches that can’t handle the new call center phone system volume, or a new cloud services provider can’t handle the volume the business is generating.
ROI benefits may be based on when and how users will utilize the new capabilities. Anything that prevents them from doing so will be a risk. The ROI initiative should have a strong end user communication component that describes why/how/when the transition will happen, and don’t forget the end user training if its needed.
When you engage vendors to provide critical services/technology, sometimes they won’t execute as promised or go out of business before the initiative is completed.
Keep Your Guard Up
Be aware of the potential risks that may impact your ROI initiative during the initial analysis phase and factor that contingency into your planning. A strong predefined communication plan will go a long way in preventing and/or minimizing the impact of many of the potential risk areas described in this blog. I personally like the traditional high level red/yellow/green dashboards that give a snap shot of risk over time, but use whatever works best for your organization to keep these risks top of mind.
Les Viszlai is a principal strategist with VMware Advisory Services based in Atlanta, GA.
Today’s most successful enterprises are transforming themselves, upending business models, disrupting markets. What’s more, they’re turning on a dime – and the pace at which they’re doing so is only increasing. For these winners, that agility translates into increased customer satisfaction, better margins, and higher sales. For their IT functions – responsible for so much of this new flexibility and speed – transformation drives a new relationship with the business. IT is now a fundamental and ongoing contributor to accelerating business value.
As CIOs look to transform their own IT organizations in year ahead, their greatest challenge lies in delivering that change in an environment that is itself fast moving.
In 2016 and beyond, IT can only expect increased pressure to deploy continuous innovation to capture both business value and further efficiencies.
Our experts see this daily as they work with customers around the world, gaining insight into the challenges that companies face and the strategies that are working on the transformation front-lines.
This eBook explores three main trends that we believe CIOs need to be aware of as they consider embarking upon, or continuing, transformations of their own:
Companies are looking to scale DevOps beyond individual application pipelines and pilots.
IT needs to be able to work at multiple speeds. It’s all about being multi-modal.
Security offers a challenge, but a major opportunity, too.
Download the free eBook, written by our Advisory Services and Operations Transformation Services experts, to whether these innovations in the way we manage, deliver and secure IT should be a part of your strategy.
As Practice Director for VMware’s DevOps & Cloud Native Apps Professional Services team, I lead a a specialized team of developers with decades of experience helping customers reach their DevOps goals.
In our experience, many organizations have accepted that they need to apply DevOps best practices to accelerate application delivery, and they are in the early stages of developing their strategy for moving forward.
They’ve heard terms like continuous integration and continuous delivery, but have difficulty mapping out what their optimal DevOps tool chain would be, faced with a large, and growing number of technology options, a lack of standardization, and very often, widely differing opinions within the organization on what’s right for them.
In this short video, I walk through our own best-practice example of a Continuous Delivery Pipeline, discuss the software stacks that comprise the tool chain, and pass on DevOps best practice advice along the way.
The Continuous Delivery Pipeline
The Continuous Delivery Pipeline contains inter-related software stacks which support the pipeline stages and activities; enabling repeatable and reliable software delivery by application teams.
You will notice notice as we go through the stacks….you have options. You might choose VMware solutions for some of these areas. Or you might have made other investments. That’s ok. We believe in our products, but we’re committed to helping you create a seamless integration between all these moving pieces, regardless of which software solutions you choose.
Let’s start with the Planning Stack. This software stack supports agile development throughout the delivery pipeline — planning and tracking software releases; creation of user stories; sprint planning, backlog management, and issue tracking. Typical tools used in planning are JIRA, Redmine, Trello, GitHub Pages, and MS TFS
Next in the toolchain is the Coding Stack. The software in this stack is used for the coding effort against the user stories. We have integrated development environments, editors, debugging tools, and unit-test tools. Geany, Atom, Eclipse, MS-TFS, and vRealize Orchestrator are commonly used tools. Other software in this stack used to support application development: pre-configured developer-workstations, and the environments for application unit-tests (essentially a set of VM blueprints).
The Commit Stack supports version control and many best practices including: daily check-ins, committing assets early and often, automated style-checking, and code reviews. Typical tools include Git, GitHub, MS TFS, and Gerrit.
Developers need fast useful feedback once code is committed; continuous integration tools support automated software builds and automated smoke tests. The Continuous Integration Stack, uses tools like Jenkins, Gerrit Triggers, and vRealize Automation.
The Testing Stack is used in managing testing throughout the software development lifecycle. The key to high productivity and quality code is developer-driven testing in production-like environments for each phase of the lifecycle — it is more effective to expose and remediate issues earlier in the lifecycle. For this stack, you can use tools such as Selenium, REST-assured, soapUI, SonarQube, and vRealize Automation.
The Artifact Management Stack supports the management of application artifacts including binaries; and provides package version control and dependency management of the artifacts. Tools for artifact management include JFrog Artifactory, and vRealize CodeStream.
The next stack focuses on Continuous Deployment and provides support for consistent deployments to every environment – UAT, Staging, and Production. You can use tools like Jenkins, Ansible, vRealize Automation, and vRealize Orchestrator, and vRealize CodeStream.
Next in the tool chain is the Configuration Management Stack, which supports application and environment configuration and is often tightly integrated with the deployment stack. Typical tools in this stack are Ansible, Chef, Puppet, and Chocolatey.
The Control Stack comes next, and is used for application and infrastructure behavior monitoring — alerting, dashboards, logging, capacity management throughout the release process and into production. You can use the vRealize Suite at this stage, including vRealize Operations and vRealize Log Insight, as well as Nagios.
Last but not least is the Feedback Stack, which provides automated feedback to the right people at the right-time during all phases — alerts, auditing, test results, build results, deployment — touching all areas of the pipeline. Github Issues and Slack can be effective tools in this stage.
There are a LOT of moving pieces – it is COMPLEX – and I am sure you are concerned about how in the world to make them all play nicely together! Our capability is in getting all of these moving pieces to work together for a continuous, well monitored flow.
So how does this tool chain help your Dev and Ops team to accelerate application delivery?
Well, application development teams today have moved into the traditional infrastructure and operations space in order to accelerate application delivery.
Application teams require fast-feedback and optimal execution flow during the development life-cycle, and for this they need consistent, production-like environments everywhere and on-demand, continuous integration and deployment, and automated testing throughout the application release lifecycle.
As a result, the dev teams are deploying and managing tools, and automating tasks throughout the life-cycle to support these requirements.
Infrastructure & Operations teams that are concerned with governance and stability can participate in this “shift-left” by working in a high-trust culture where Dev & Ops collaborate to build the optimal execution flow.
Treating infrastructure like code benefits both Dev and Operations, enabling you to version infrastructure definitions with code and use consistent, production-like environments everywhere
A shift-left takes the burden of tool-chain management off the development teams and provides the infrastructure & operations team the visibility, governance, and control to support the business.
VMware DevOps Foundation Solution
The VMware DevOps Foundation Solution (currently available in North America only) enables our customers to implement and operate a Continuous Delivery tool chain with prescriptive stacks of best of breed tools based on common industry patterns and your own environment’s requirements, whether your apps are developed using C#, Java, Python, Go or other programming languages.
The fact that our stacks are pre-integrated means they are ready to use much more quickly, thereby providing a faster time-to value in delivering your applications.
Worried that you are already using a certain tool that you didn’t see in this presentation – don’t worry, these stacks are flexible and we have worked with almost every tool on the landscape.
Creating the DevOps tool chain that will work for you can be complicated, but we’re here to help.
To get started, contact your VMware rep to set up a 1-hour meeting with my team to discuss your goals for Continuous Development. We will then schedule a half-day workshop on continuous delivery and DevOps best practices with your development and operations leaders to kick the project off on the right foot.
We look forward to working with you to make your dreams for accelerated application delivery a reality!
Peg Eaton is a practice director for VMware’s DevOps and Cloud Native Apps Services Organization and is based in Massachusetts.