DevOps, IoT and the Experience of Things

Why the Internet of Things will accelerate DevOps adoption across businesses.

The business case for DevOps has centered primarily on the need to relentlessly optimize digital engagement with the customer. And it’s true. The quality of the digital customer experience the business delivers is central to its competitiveness. DevOps lets practitioners optimize that quality-of-experience by letting them optimize their software’s features, ease of use, and reliability and performance in real-world production—with the utmost speed, resource-efficiency and security.

The Internet of Things (IoT), however, adds a new wrinkle to the DevOps value proposition. Because things have an “experience” with software, too. And that experience can be even more difficult to get right. The stakes for the “experience of things” may, in many cases, also be higher.

DevOps offers so much value to IoT innovators, it may even be its own sub-discipline. That’s why anyone in the IoT business needs to pay special attention to DevOps.

— Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President, DevOps Solutions, CA Technologies

Here are three reasons why IoT elevates the DevOps imperative:

1. IoT Footprint Constraints

Developers working in mainstream Web and mobile environments tend not to worry too much about capacity constraints on the endpoint device as they evolve their code over time. This is in part because endpoint platforms are designed to support robust interface operations—and in part, because users can be counted on to upgrade their devices over time.

Nobody wants to buy a new thermostat or jet engine every two years, though. And in smaller embedded systems, parameters for processing capacity, local storage and network bandwidth can be relatively constrained. So as developers seek to continuously improve product features over time, they have to be continuously super-cognizant of these constraints.

DevOps is crucial to this discipline. DevOps empowers developers, test/QA staff, and IT ops teams to most rigorously and proactively ensure that code works in a constrained footprint. That may not seem like such a big deal when first testing software on product swithin the four walls of a business’ own facility—but it’s going to be incredibly important when there are six-year-old devices in the field that must be aggressively upgraded with new features in the face of unanticipated market conditions.

2. IoT Glitch Risk

DevOps helps businesses roll out new code with confidence. That’s important with customers, because they don’t like stuff that doesn’t work—and can punish a business for software missteps by buying less, shifting their loyalty to competitors and publicly disparaging the business on social media.

Those are certainly unpleasant consequences. But in the IoT world, the consequences can be even greater. Property can be damaged. People can be hurt. Civil and criminal charges can result.

The rigor and confidence that DevOps brings to pre-flight software quality control is therefore indispensable. So is the ability it gives companies to document the rigor of their pre-flight quality control processes to external auditors and attorneys general.

3. IoT Newness

Development teams have years or even decades of experience writing software that people use. They know how to write it, test it and roll it out.

IoT, on the other hand, is a very new field. Sure there have been industrial controls and the like for a long time. But few have much experience actually adding value to products through cloud-connected code.

DevOps can thus offer tremendous value by helping IoT delivery teams up the learning curve faster and with less pain. Given the speed with which the IoT market is moving, that speed and mitigation of downside pain can easily translate into first-mover market leadership—which has long-term business implications far beyond the next version rev.

DevOps offers so much value to IoT innovators, it may even be its own sub-discipline. That’s why anyone in the IoT business needs to pay special attention to DevOps—and make sure they have the people, tools and processes in place to make sure they can continuously optimize the value they provide through their software-enhanced product offerings.

Aruna Ravichandran
By Aruna Ravichandran | January 27, 2016

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