Government employees and the constituents they serve want access to modern capabilities, similar to what they use in their daily lives. They expect frequent updates, improvements and same-day responses to security issues.
To meet those expectations, agencies need a more collaborative, automated and transparent approach for delivering the software that powers government services, said Eamon McCormick, Director, Emerging Technology for Civilian Agencies at Red Hat, a leader in open source technology. “The only way for the government to deliver this kind of experience is by adopting DevOps,” McCormick said. In a recent interview with GovLoop, he explained the key tenets for making DevOps adoption a success and the role open source plays in that transition.
Although important, DevOps success is about more than the technology; the culture is critical. To be successful, agencies must change in three fundamental areas. They must first create small, autonomous, cross-functional teams to focus on solving specific problems. Second, they must constantly focus on and get feedback from the customer, rather than adhering to dated internal policies and procedures. Finally, they must network these small teams to solve the more complex technology and business challenges, McCormick advised.
Picking a single project and starting small allows teams to learn from their mistakes and readjust. McCormick advised that agencies establish a baseline and metrics around what they want to improve about their delivery capability. Potential metrics include lead time for change, deployment frequency, recovery time and change failure rate.
Open source communities provide a good model from which agencies considering DevOps can learn about collaboration and transparency. Open source relies on communication, full visibility for everyone working on the project team and prioritization. “Open source projects have fully adopted the DevOps concepts that our customers are now looking to adopt,” McCormick said.
Red Hat itself is an example of a large organization built entirely on open principles. Its understanding of open culture and DevOps is evident in its partnerships with government agencies and the products and services it provides, McCormick said. He explained that Red Hat’s Open Shift Container Platform, along with offerings like the Container Adoption Program and Open Innovation Labs, moves government customers toward a DevOps operation model.
“To fully take advantage of OpenShift as a platform, our customers have to work in small teams, embrace automation, and open communications,” McCormick said. Open Innovation Labs and the Container Adoption program teach federal stakeholders to use Agile approaches, DevOps and modern architectures, such as Linux containers and micro-services. Customers run through multiple Sprints, paired with Red Hat coaches and experts, until they achieve self-sufficiency and the ability to expand beyond initial projects on their own.
“DevOps has now been proven successful across all types of technology projects, whether it’s custom development or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) adoption, whether it’s legacy or modern technologies,” McCormick said. “It can significantly improve an organization’s culture and create an incredibly positive experience for the participants.”
TAKEAWAY: Successful DevOps implementation thrives on openness and transparency. Start small and consider how open source-based projects can help drive collaboration across teams.
This article is from GovLoop’s recent guide “Your Guide to DevOps in Government Today.” Download the full guide here.