DevOps Today: It’s Time, and There Are No More Excuses

This blog post is an excerpt of a report, Accelerating DevOps in the Public Sector, developed in partnership with Red Hat. To download the full report, head here.

Digitization is sweeping government and the public, creating an intense demand for public sector services that are innovative, intuitive and that deliver information and capability more rapidly. In government today, this ability to increase speed and agility isn’t just an afterthought — it’s imperative for agencies to succeed in meeting their missions.

In the past, adopting approaches like DevOps in the public sector might have been thought of as too challenging. But the understanding of how straightforward it can be to adopt DevOps, and the methodology’s benefits are now scientifically proven, and widespread. The time for government agencies to start their DevOps adoption has arrived, and there are low-risk approaches that make it more feasible than ever.

“It’s taken some time, but we believe there is now a mandate to move toward DevOps,” said McCormick. “That’s coming from industry, open source communities, government contractors and government leadership.”

This means that the time for DevOps in the public sector is now. According to a leading book in the DevOps field, “Accelerate: The Science Behind DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations”:

The moral of the story, borne out in the data, is this: improvements in software delivery are possible for every team and in every company, as long as leadership provides consistent support — including time, actions, and resources — demonstrating a true commitment to improvement, and as long as team members commit themselves to the work.

And additionally, the authors say that by using DevOps:

It’s possible to achieve these characteristics even with packaged software and “legacy” mainframe systems — and, conversely, employing the latest whizzy microservices architecture deployed on containers is no guarantee of higher performance if you ignore these characteristics.

“At this point it is 100 percent validated that DevOps is something achievable, regardless of industry, the type of applications being built or any legacy constraints. When done properly, it absolutely improves the delivery of software, which in turn improves organizational performance,” McCormick said.

In fact, today‘s high-performing IT teams using DevOps practices deploy code up to 30 times faster, experience 60 percent fewer failures and recover from development issues 168 times faster than their peers.* Basically, every important measurable area of software delivery is improved. Successful teams deliver software more quickly and with fewer failures, but amazingly they recover from those failures significantly faster.

So what does this mean for the public sector? And what does DevOps look like in practice at agencies? Over at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), one team applied DevOps on its Fee-Processing Next Generation (FPNG) initiative — a makeover of the agency’s fee-collection processing and refund system — to process approximately $3 billion annually in fees. USPTO officials are confident that DevOps will enable them to streamline the fee collection and refund process while reducing manual data entry.

“We think of ourselves as a business, and DevOps is a way to drive that business value,” said Simmons Lough, Software Architect at the USPTO. It may sound nearly impossible for other agencies to streamline their development and operations given the realities of bureaucracy, but Lough was encouraging. “We didn’t go from 0 to 100 MPH overnight,” he said. “The reason we were able to get to the first stage is that most of the technology was ubiquitous. For other agencies, the plumbing and technologies are already there. It’s just using those effectively.”

To help with compliance requirements – a concern for many government agencies – Lough added, “If we can do DevOps, anyone can. Additionally, our type of automated pipeline allows us to be on the offense with compliance and projects rather than defense.”

It’s clear that government can’t wait any longer before moving IT to a DevOps approach.

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