What is DevOps? A Microsoft Dynamics Partner Primer

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Elevator pitch for the attention span challenged, Twitter obsessed generation: DevOps is a unique opportunity for highly differentiated business process re-engineering services that has not yet penetrated the Dynamics space.

The president of a major Microsoft Dynamics AX implementation recently pointed out that the continued emergence of AX as a challenger to SAP and Oracle was necessary to challenge their duopoly and give customers a legitimate alternative to their ERP software offerings. I found that to be a fascinating observation since I have recently become interested in an agile business concept called DevOps that originated in the world of big business dominated by SAP and Oracle in the enterprise ERP space and how it could impact the Dynamics space.

So what is DevOps? More importantly how could it be a highly profitable new business for Dynamics partners?

In short, the term DevOps is the combination of the words development and operations as they pertain to departments within organizations. In larger enterprises there is typically a need to have better communication and cooperation between these organizations in terms of how software is modified and deployed. It is a movement based on the concept that software updates will be released faster and with fewer errors if there is closer cooperation between DEVelopment and OPerationS in organizations to improve the application development and release cycle.

Quality assurance or QA is often referenced or included in DevOps discussions as being critically involved in the software release mix.

Let’s look at a perfect example.

An online distribution company constantly has to update its web site to be competitive in a world where giants like Amazon and the brand specific websites of large retailers such as Best Buy dominate. In this environment it is critical to be nimble to take advantage of niche opportunities that the giants are too slow to respond to. As a result, constant fine tuning and major changes to the website are constantly demanded by operations folks.

These requirements get “tossed over the fence” to the development team to be delivered ASAP!

In the developers cocoon the change requests come fast and furious and typically every single appears to be an emergency. This situation can lead to considerable tension between the development and operations teams particularly when there is limited communication between the groups. In addition to the tension there can be a dramatic loss in productivity due to this tension.

The concepts around DevOps developed in larger organizations recognizing a need to improve processes, communication and tools sets between operational and development departments with a goal of getting “good” code developed and implemented faster and more efficiently.

DevOps has reached a level of credibility or “mass” by being mentioned by Gartner as a “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014″. To a large degree DevOps is still a “buzzword” that is poorly understood and often used to define a wide and disparate group of ideas and tools. This creates opportunities for “first movers” in the space.

Built around this movement are various thoughts, processes and tool sets intended to facilitate the cooperation between development and operation departments. To start on the road to a better understanding check out these resources and DevOps tools:

  • Rackspace for a fantastic video describing what DevOps is for the novice or non-technical individual
  • ZeroTurnaround revolutionary tools for developing quality software faster
  • DataDog monitoring service for IT, Operations and Development teams who write and run applications at scale and turn the massive amounts of data produced by their apps, tools and services into actionable insight
  • Plutora brings together everything required to operate a robust and scalable Release Management function within your organization.
  • MidVision  is a leading provider of Application Release Automation software and management solutions across complex multi-tier environments.
  • Kubisys automates the creation of development, test and training environments in a fashion that is faster, cheaper and better than traditional VMWare solutions
  • DevOps “where the world meets DevOps”

With Microsoft Dynamics projects becoming more complex and prevalent in the “Tier One” ERP space previously dominated by Oracle and SAP the tools and methodologies of DevOps present an emerging opportunity for partners to add highly differentiated services.

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