Biggest Problem for Application Development: We’re Scared

I attended a recent panel discussion, titled “Constraints to Speed and Agility in Application Delivery,” at a financial services technology summit. I sat among Senior IT leads from sea to shining sea who expressed a range of concerns just as wide.

Mike Versace of IDC Research moderated the panel and started with a question:

“What are our biggest challenges in application development?”

The answers varied widely, from the ridiculous wasted time required to provision a server to the challenge of scaling processes and segmenting responsibilities. But one response, from Union Bank’s Anne Hungate, caught us by surprise: “Fear!”

Hungate, the bank’s senior VP of software engineering and quality assurance, says fear is the chief obstacle, before all others. It inhibits the change that organizations need to do things like speed up provisioning and scaling processes. 

“People don’t like change, yet change is inevitable,” she said. 

What Are We Afraid Of? 

She’s right. IT organizations try to mimic every other industry in using operational data to build better products, yet they continue to lag because they haven’t examined their processes. I’m talking, of course, about DevOps.

When you step back from it, the notion is so simple. We call it DevOps and act like we’ve invented something new; most everyone else in the world simply calls it “working together for better results.”

IT is way behind when trying to deliver better quality at a faster pace and now there’s a movement to close the loop and create better enterprise applications. The tsunami is coming, so you might as well learn to surf.

CA Technologies released a report earlier this year showing that 66 percent of survey respondents have already implemented DevOps or will do so soon. That’s good news – and long overdue. Leading information technology pros are realizing there’s a better way. 

The challenge now is to overcome the initial reluctance – or resistance – of the folks who will need to be retrained or replaced. If the choice is ours, it’s an easy one to make. We need these people, especially the most important technologists who work on core systems and seldom retire. We need continuing education that helps them evolve to a new mindset – and an understanding that there is nothing to fear.

Catch the DevOps Wave

The search for innovative ways to deliver applications faster, better and cheaper has many paths. Helpful vendors are popping up all the time with solutions to real-world problems. The term DevOps is often thrown around as though it is just one of those solutions, but it’s really so much more than that.

DevOps is a transformative approach to everything we do, and it’s snowballing in adoption simply because it makes so much sense. The number of web searches for the term is more in the last 6 months than in previous history.

DevOps isn’t an answer to everything, but it can supercharge organizations to accelerate. So forget your fear and catch the wave. If not, then you’d be wise to keep an eye on the competition. If he’s not on this wave already, he’ll probably be catching the next one.

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