A Cautionary Tale
Let’s start our conversation with the tale of a drug monitoring, a pharmacogenetic testing organization with over 1000 employees. It had a specialized Lab Information system (LIS) that it developed in-house to meet specific business needs. While the LIS was stable, it did not have a great user experience. As a result, in 2016, the company’s web development team decided to write a new LIS to replace the old one. The team started from scratch with .Net and Docker containers on AWS.
A year later, the team moved its first product to the new LIS. Development on the system continued and the cost of development neared $5m a year with no end in sight. In 2018, just two years into the modernization project, it was canceled. The reason senior leadership gave for canceling the project was that there was too much investment going into the LIS without any measurable results to date -- or in the foreseeable future.
Now the company is back at square one, with the same competitive and customer pressures as it had in 2016. According to IDC, 64% of US companies with over 500 employees have already adopted DevOps or plan to in the next 12 months, potentially leaving this firm at a significant competitive deficit.
Lessons learned from this cautionary tale:
- The firm clearly expected a revolution rather than an evolution. Digital transformation should be viewed as a series of perpetual shifts and constant adaption of new technology rather than a one-time fix.
- Business unit leadership was not involved in scoping the project. Had it been involved, it could have helped set expectations and milestones for achieving meaningful -- and measurable -- progress.
- Success was not defined. When costs ballooned without a level of measurable result, the business felt it had no choice but to cancel the project. IDC indicates that common KPIs include:
- Getting software to market and team collaboration and accountability
- Customer satisfaction, uptime, and financial performance
- Code error rates (i.e. quality)
- Security robustness
A Promising Tale
Compare this to the tale of G6 Hospitality, whose mission it is to build on the iconic heritage of its brands — Motel 6 and Studio 6 — to become the universally recognized leader in economy lodging. While the company traditionally took a “tech-conservative” approach in support of simple brand promise, in 2016 it responded to competitive industry pressures with “IT 2.0”. Spurred by a business review that determined the company’s strategic goals, IT 2.0 defined core technology tenets and target states that would help G6 Hospitality reinvent its economy lodging platform through Agile IT.
Technology leadership in conjunction with the business determined that legacy systems wouldn't meet the company’s future needs; an increase in Option Value was needed. (Option Value is the concept of moving from an older, inflexible platform that may have technology and architectural limits, to a newer, more advanced platform with merits like flexibility–driven through innovation and best practices.) As a result, G6 Hospitality took a layered focus that included business alignment, partnerships, methodology, the environment, and its team. With this layered focus in hand, G6 Hospitality targeted core systems and architecture for migration, starting with its HotelKey PMS (Production), Above Property DRS (Active Migration) and Foundation Services (Design and Build).
Program IT 2.0 has several specific goals:
- Create a cloud-first approach to increase speed, flexibility, and scalability
- Undergo strategic technology transformation in support of business goals
- Increase the option value of G6 Hospitality platforms
By the end of 2018, G6 Hospitality was live on its microservices architecture and had its API Gateway, Couchbase, and containers up and running on OpenShift. Moreover, it has a fully established AWS Landing Zone that establishes a secure, scalable foundation for moving to AWS and a CI/CD service that ensures easy infrastructure and configuration modification. With future plans to expand its cloud to include HCM, Finance, Messaging, Storage, QA and more, G6 Hospitality is indeed a tale of DevOps transformation success.
Lessons learned from this promising tale:
- Start with a clearly defined business objective. Success defined in business terms and aligned with business owners for clear ROI is more likely to achieve important milestones. Measure results and iterate.
- Shape your team by identifying talent and investing in them. Outline your target state and from that point position, increase ownership of competitive advantage.
- Last, embrace the journey by partnering with your executive peers; be ready to learn from others with experience and be ambitious and operate with discipline.
According to IDC, organizations are propelled toward DevOps transformation by the need to deliver deployments more rapidly to remain competitive and to improve the quality and consistency of their software deployments. As more businesses move to DevOps, FOMO can set in. And for good reason as IDC is reporting a 30% ROI on DevOps after the first year, and a commensurate loss of value for those not using DevOps. However, it’s just as important to not jump headlong into DevOps but rather to heed the lessons of these two tales of DevOps transformation to appropriately plan for and execute DevOps within your organization.
For more information about successfully reaching Agile at scale through a digital transformation framework and becoming an Agile Enterprise, download our paper today, Five Best Practices to Achieve Enterprise-Wide DevOps. Or, subscribe to our DevOps blog for ongoing tips, analysis and DevOps case studies.