I was pleased to present at DevOps Enterprise Summit in Las Vegas recently on the essential and mutually beneficial partnership between Product Management and DevOps, which is the combo of software development (Dev) and information technology operations (Ops). The event itself was an insightful few days to acquire an updated perspective on how the DevOps community of practitioners view the “business”, which is personified by Product Management.

In this two-part blog series, I will discuss the following:

  • What is DevOps?
  • The state of DevOps deployment in B2B technology organizations today
  • The case for alignment between Product Management and DevOps
  • What Product Management can learn from DevOps
  • 8 tips for achieving a deeper Product Management/DevOps alliance

Let’s start with the first two points.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is the term to describe the collaboration between Development and Operations to build a more predictable and faster release pipeline of cloud solutions. It evolved from Agile development methods and the need to break down the silos between Development and IT, replacing it with a streamlined and high velocity “code to cloud” publishing process.

what devops stands for  

(Click image to enlarge).
DevOps combines software development (Dev) with information technology operations (Ops).
Image source: Wikipedia

DevOps is underpinned by three principles, which were made popular in “Three Ways” by DevOps expert and author Gene Kim. “Three Ways” describes the values and philosophies that frame the processes, procedures, practices of DevOps, as well as the prescriptive steps, which are:

  1. Systems thinking to make work visible across groups, limit work in progress, and reduce handoffs. This step is specifically designed to provide context for the subsequent steps in the process, or in other words, to resist the urge to blindly throw work over the fence to someone who has no context.
  2. Amplify feedback is about creating the continuous closed feedback loops to quickly address necessary corrections. When incidents do happen, swarming across all stakeholders is recommended to quickly resolve to resume the normal process flow.
  3. Culture of continual experimentation and learning fosters risk taking and quick learning from failure combined with an understanding that repetition and practice is the prerequisite to mastery.

DevOps is a process. It’s not just one person’s job, but everyone’s job across Development and IT Operations. Adopting DevOps often requires a big culture shift to be collaborative, blame-free, and transparent.

devops culture  

(Click image to enlarge).
Image Source: “DevOps Culture: A Huge Step for Mankind” by IT Svit

Organizations like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Netflix have deployed DevOps at scale, pushing new cloud capability to the market hundreds and even thousands of times per day. “You build it, you run it,” is AWS’s mantra, which drives shared responsibility, transparency and accountability between Development and IT Operations. The results appear to be worth the effort as outlined in the 2018 State of DevOps report by Puppet, which chronicles the performance of high achieving DevOps practitioners.

The State of DevOps Deployment in B2B Technology Organizations Today

With almost a quarter of all technology sector revenue derived from subscription offers (XaaS), most of that is software deployed in the Cloud. The advent of cloud delivery removed significant deployment complexity for the customer, and in doing so, added complexity and expense to supplier P&L in the form of increased cost of goods sold (COGS), resulting in lower gross margins. Much of that increase in COGS is the cost of hosting and operating software in the Cloud.

With this industry shift to the Cloud, the development methodologies are also shifting. More and more organizations are attempting their hand at standing up DevOps processes to streamline the “code to cloud” process and apply automation where feasible in each stage and each layer of the development, QA, staging, and production process. Refer to my conversation with Oracle Marketing Cloud DevOps Director in an earlier blog post for a work-in-progress example. The benefits are many, most notably including scale, predictability, reliability, and increased release cadences.

TSIA Research finds that currently about a third of B2B enterprise are taking advantage of the DevOps processes and that these organizations also have a number of other development methodologies in process.

33% of B2B enterprises use DevOps to develop and deploy product to market.

TSIA Research

It is certainly early days for many, since despite the use of DevOps, a reported 18% are releasing to market on a weekly or daily basis. Most B2B organizations are still releasing semi-annually and monthly. For sure, this may have as much to do with their customer’s readiness to consume the technology on an accelerated clip as it is an organizations ability to adopt new process and development culture.
 

18% of B2B Enterprise are releasing to market on a weekly or more frequent cadence.

TSIA Research

Within the DevOps community, there’s a lot of discussion about moving from a “project” mindset to a “product” mindset. The need to think more holistically about the business objectives and related KPIs is real, though it’s less clear that organizations, particularly those outside the B2B enterprise space know how to accomplish this. B2B enterprises have an edge in this area, as product management has typically been the owners of the business ideas and initiatives. The challenge in these enterprises are more about operationalizing the work stream, not only from “code to cloud” but shifting both left and right and operationalizing from “concept to consumption”.

Recently I discussed the remit of Product Management for the DevOps community on DevOps TV. You can watch a video of the interview here.

In the second blog in this two-part series, I will cover the following topics:

  • The case for alignment between Product Management and DevOps
  • What Product Management can learn from DevOps
  • Where to start for a deeper Product Management DevOps alliance
In the meantime, I encourage you to contact TSIA today to learn more about how your Product Management and DevOps teams can begin working better together. As the head of TSIA’s XaaS Product Management research practice, I work to provide our members with actionable insights for getting ahead in the world of XaaS, from born-in-the-cloud companies to those undergoing business model transformation. I look forward to hearing from you.
 
 
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Laura Fay

About Author Laura Fay

Laura Fay  is the vice president of XaaS product management research for TSIA. She is a technology industry veteran with over 30 years' experience driving business growth in the enterprise software industry via leadership roles in product management, general management, product development, and customer success.