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October 21, 2021

2021 DevOps Enterprise Forum Guidance Papers

By IT Revolution

Every year, IT Revolution gathers industry leaders and experts to discuss the challenges they face. Over the course of the three days, they work together to identify and create written guidance for the top problems facing the community. This year, they produced seven guidance papers on subjects ranging from shared services to cloud transformations. The full set of papers can be read for free in the Fall 2021 DevOps Enterprise Journal.

1. Accelerating Shared Services: Or How to Make Shared Services Suck Less

by Charles Betz, Scott Prugh, Erica Morrison, Scott Nasello, Adam Zimman, Damon Edwards, and Randy Shoup

Greater success can be found when organizations treat shared services as core to the business—a set of capabilities that enable and optimize the company’s ability to innovate while maintaining stability for existing customers. This paper presents a deeper understanding of this problem and takes this conversation to a new level, presenting an improved framework for understanding and guiding, helping scale companies through this problem. Each of the authors of this paper has experienced shared services done well and done poorly, and the purpose of this paper is to outline some of the patterns we have found that lead to successful shared services implementations in our organizations.

2. Building Industrial DevOps Stickiness: Applying Insights

By Dr. Suzette Johnson, Robin Yeman, Dr. Harry Koehnemann, Jeffrey Shupack, Matt Aizcorbe, Adrian Cockcroft, Michael McKay, and Hasan Yasar

At an industrial scale, cyber-physical solutions (systems comprised of hardware, firmware, and software) experience many challenges as they embrace Lean and DevOps practices. These Industrial DevOps (IDO) transformations face significant complexities as they respond to critical safety regulations and the “continu-ish” integration and alignment across multiple suppliers and partners.

In this paper, the authors identify Principle #1 of Industrial DevOps (visualize and organize around the value stream)* as a common cross-industry barrier to IDO transformation stickiness. We use mental modeling, Wardley Mapping, and the Westrum Organizational Typology model to identify misalignments and gain a shared understanding of IDO to sustain and scale IDO adoption. We then offer executive sponsors and leaders a set of approaches and insights to address each of the three identified barriers.

3. How to Use GitOps: What Every CIO Needs to Know about GitOps

by Chris Hill, Tom Limoncelli, Dr. Gail Murphy, Cornelia Davis, and Dwayne Holmes

In many organizations, engineers spend too much time waiting for infrastructure change requests. Limited resources cause infrastructure-dependent changes to lag behind, increasing development demand. GitOps presents one solution by repurposing your organization’s existing Git pull-request workflows to permit infrastructure-oriented teams to safely democratize changes.

Distributing control down to the dependent teams improves transparency, velocity, predictability, auditability, and more. In a GitOps world, all infrastructure elements are defined as code. Changes are proposed in the code repository with the same mechanism as developers working on traditional applications. When the changes are approved and committed, automation validates the change and deploys them into production safely.

Developers are already familiar with your existing Git pull-request workflow, which can make it easy for them to switch to and from the application code they are already developing. Other benefits include collaborative discussions, ephemeral environments, formal change traceability, automated testing, and human-in-the-loop approval—all enabling your infrastructure changes.

In this paper, the authors define GitOps, explain where it is best applied and why, and make suggestions on adopting this practice in your organization.

4. A Leader’s Guide to Working with Consultants: Moving from Consultant Dependency to Building Internal Capability

by Josh Atwell, Elizabeth Donaldson, John Esser, Ron Forrester, Ben Grinnell, Jason Hobbs, Courtney Kissler, and Jessica Reif

With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic on the horizon, leaders are looking to accelerate their digital transformation efforts. According to one survey, 80% of executives across industries are planning to accelerate their transformations, with 65% expecting to increase the amount they invest in digital.

Given that many companies will not be building their full set of digital capabilities in house, we expect consulting relationships will remain popular among companies seeking to reinvent themselves. We do not intend to discourage the use of consultants—there are many situations where consultants can provide tremendous value. Instead, we hope to help you identify those situations and maximize the value of your consulting relationship while minimizing the risk of the engagement.

5. No Application Left Behind: The Journey to the Cloud

by Satya Addagarla, Anderson Tran, Dr. Mik Kersten, Rob Juncker, Betty Junod, and Sasha Rosenbaum

Enterprises have wide technology portfolios that include revenue generating applications built on old guard standard technology stacks (e.g., IBM, Oracle) to dabbling in modern technologies such as those provided by today’s hyperscalers. Enterprises are aware now, more than ever, that they will be hard pressed to remain idle in a world where digital product and services delivery are becoming the new, main revenue streams in their respective industries.

In this paper we break down the case for change as we show that this vast portfolio of applications need not have any applications left behind as we guide you on how to begin your journey of transformation. Through a few major topic areas, from the executive pitch to business metrics and what an execution plan example looks like, we hope to advise the technical executive reader on key points and pivots an organization can make as it navigates change with a complex set of technology to maintain.

6. From Project to Product to Problem Solving: Cross-Product Management and Cross-Product Prioritization

by Ross Clanton, Amy Walters, David Silverman, Heather Mickman, Lucas Rettig, Pat Birkeland, Paula Thrasher, Rosalind Radcliffe, and Jeffrey Snover

As businesses become increasingly digital and product driven, companies are pivoting to product-centric operating models. The backbone of such models is a network of teams aligned to a set of value streams and empowered to set their own objectives and paths to achieving them. Unlike project-driven companies, which are driven by temporary endeavors with predefined scopes, product-centric companies organize people and goals around products that continuously deliver value to customers.

While much more agile than their project-based predecessors, product-based organizations face two common execution challenges. First, maintaining continuous alignment among multiple autonomous product teams is a daunting task. Leaders’ perspectives on what is important is likely to vary based on the products they lead. To their teams, it can be very frustrating when a corporate-level initiative disrupts their local prioritization processes, causing them to pull focus from what is most important for the product to what is most important for the business.
Second, even with the most thoughtfully designed value streams, some dependencies between products typically remain. When dependencies cannot be decoupled, product teams must negotiate whose roadmap will be compromised, which is a challenging exercise in the absence of a larger, global prioritization framework.

Read and download the paper here.

7. Winning Together: A Playbook for Aligning Technology & Business

by Dominica DeGrandis, Ana E. Torres, Elisabeth Hendrickson, Levi Geinert, and Jeffrey Fredrick

At this point it is largely taken as a given that the ability to develop and leverage technology is a competitive advantage in any industry. Every company is a technology company regardless of their market segment or product category. Digital transformation is a strategic investment that promises dramatic business results. In order to achieve these results, Technology must become a strategic partner to the Business.

Although this is not a new insight—far from it—many companies still struggle with establishing this strategic partnership between Technology and the Business. Both sides express frustration. Business leaders report feeling stymied by what they perceive as the high costs and rigidity of their technology groups, and thus seek to work around those groups with so-called “Shadow IT.”

On the flip side, technology leaders express frustration with business leaders who view Technology as a cost center, seem to expect a purely transactional funding based relationship, and who push back on any investment that does not yield immediate and tangible benefits for business initiatives.

Of course, the underlying issues are not one-sided. This is not a technology problem or a business problem but rather an organizational problem. What is missing is true partnership: a relationship characterized by shared goals, mutual respect, true collaboration, joint commitment, and shared accountability.

This paper is written for technology leaders who would like to improve their partnership with the Business. As a technology leader, you may have tried to partner in the past and struggled to bring your business counterpart along. Or perhaps you feel that you lack the political capital to shift your relationship.

This playbook provides concrete advice for making a deep and lasting change in your relationship, shifting from what may have been a fraught or transactional relationship to a more productive partnership.

Read and download the paper here.

- About The Authors
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IT Revolution

Trusted by technology leaders worldwide. Since publishing The Phoenix Project in 2013, and launching DevOps Enterprise Summit in 2014, we’ve been assembling guidance from industry experts and top practitioners.

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