20 December 2019

Up in the clouds with a smoothly running development engine

The ability to develop new software quickly is the key to a healthy digital future for many organisations. The tools that are now available in order to innovate quickly in a focused way are often difficult to combine with that other important development: IT outsourcing. Solvinity delivers the solution with Integrated Delivery. 

 

In its 2020 Predictions, research agency IDC recently forecast that nearly two-thirds of large companies in 2025 will be highly productive software producers, where new code will be rolled out on a daily basis. According to the agency, CI/CD and DevOps are the best methods for producing code quickly and reliably.

The most important driving force behind this development is the cloud. Thanks to the cloud, it is possible to offer software as a service. This means that end users can always have the latest version of their applications, thanks to a continuous series of small updates that are performed automatically and imperceptibly. This process is better for end users, who never again have to wait for updates, better for suppliers, who, as a result, get much more control over the performance of their applications, and better for security, because updates and patches now no longer remain pending until the customer sees fit to add them.

But above all, the cloud is a blessing for developers! Because the cloud is ideally suited to continuously integrating and delivering many small improvements to the product, instead of making major and radical changes once in a while. We call this process Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery or CI/CD.

CI/CD and DevOps

Continuous Integration is a technical solution for building, bundling and testing applications consistently and automatically. It makes code changes much easier to integrate, through which it becomes much simpler for developers to implement small changes. This way of working leads to better communication between the teams and much higher quality software.

Continuous Delivery subsequently ensures that the tested and bundled code changes are automatically delivered to the various development, testing and production environments. A good CD solution also ensures that all the necessary service calls and procedures are carried out that are required to roll out the modified application.

CI/CD fits perfectly with DevOps, the popular software engineering method that aims to bring software development (Dev) and software operations (Ops) together. The main feature of DevOps is that it explicitly uses automation and monitoring in all areas of software development, from integration, testing and release to deployment and infrastructure management. In fact, CI/CD is the tool that organisations need to have DevOps working properly.

Managed Services

CI/CD and DevOps are extremely suitable for controlling the application explosion that is also predicted by IDC (the agency expects that more than 500 million digital applications and services will roll out of the cloud in 2023). That’s not the whole story, however. Because companies are increasingly turning to external specialists. In particular, the daily operation (the standard services that are not part of the organisation’s distinctive core tasks) is to an increasing extent being entrusted to Managed Service Providers (MSP), like Solvinity. This means that Dev and Ops are being increasingly placed in different organisations.

The biggest challenge IDC sees for organisations focussing on software development in the coming years is that DevOps teams can get stuck in ‘cultural inertia’. A healthy cooperation culture between developers, operational departments and product and business managers is essential, according to IDC, to achieve the speed that is needed to remain competitive.

To us, that doesn’t come as a surprise. We’ve started developing solutions many years ago, in close collaboration with our customers,  that bring together these two essential developments: the outsourcing of standard IT services and the accelerated development and implementation of new software code.

Integrated Delivery and Stretched DevOps

Solvinity has developed a software release method for organisations that have (partly) outsourced their IT infrastructure and management, but still regularly release their own new software. The methodology is called Integrated Delivery and aims to deliver new functionality in a predictable, safe and fast way. The success of the method lies in particular in the collaboration within a dedicated cloud management system, with which customer development teams and Solvinity operations teams gain access to an ‘online CI/CD production line’.

With Integrated Delivery, the entire release process will be automated according to a standard portfolio of services, platforms and tools. All parties involved are working together optimally, from developers and managers to the business, end users and security staff. This also includes an adapted cooperation model, which breaks down the walls between customer and supplier. Solvinity calls this “Stretched DevOps”: development and operations teams that, despite on paper being employed by different organisations, in reality work together at the client’s location for a continuous, predictable and safe flow of functionality.

Integrated Delivery offers a ready-made, controlled and automated ‘supply chain’ for business software, which uses all major CI/CD components, from containers and micro services to orchestration systems. It enables organisations to outsource IT expertise in which they can no longer or do not wish to invest, and still make use of the speed and flexibility needed to keep the organisation competitive in the future.

Every organisation wants to be able to innovate quickly – but fortunately, it is no longer necessary to invest in all the expertise that is needed to develop quickly. Working together with a partner that offers a platform with which one’s own development team can work directly with external operational specialists is the key.

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