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INDUSTRY INSIGHT

How IT teams can implement DevOps

Today government agencies face an increasingly complex technical and operational environment; they must be able to design and facilitate secure information sharing and data analysis in highly complex network environments. To effectively defend networks and speed national security decisions, government IT teams need the flexibility to deploy any kind of solution -- from advanced virtualization, big data analytics and cloud computing, to application development, training and simulation. 

Many government agencies, however, rely on aging legacy systems, which impede the movement, analysis and delivery of mission-critical information, hampering decision-making and the ability to develop and deploy new systems. In fact, a recent report found that of the 152 U.S. federal IT managers surveyed, only 13 percent believed they could “develop and deploy new systems as fast as the mission requires.”

Using DevOps to age gracefully

DevOps is ideal for accelerating time to market for custom security solutions that evaluate potential threats and speed decision-making. Because it is not tied to any technology, DevOps also empowers IT teams to adjust on the fly, creating microservices and accelerating solution deployment. By integrating DevOps, IT teams ensure a continuous delivery of software and a flexible approach to building out next-generation security solutions that increase visibility and support complex challenges across air, land, sea, cyber and space.

This year’s State of DevOps Report from Puppet found that “the beneficial effects of DevOps go beyond financial results, [and] all organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, are better able to achieve their goals, no matter what their mission is.”

The same report points out that within the next three years, “half of the CIOs who have not transformed their teams' capabilities will be displaced from their organizations' digital leadership teams.”

Agencies that are considering moving to the cloud should adopt a multimodal approach that applies DevOps and agile methodologies to their legacy systems. In doing so, they can systematically transition from monolithic applications to cloud-native containerized technologies, which decrease latency and increase developer productivity.

Speeding up the development process by leveraging containerized approaches keeps testing and production environments consistent while making it easy to apply updates to applications. When an app is distributed to multiple microservices, each one in a separate container, the IT team can update one part by restarting the container without interrupting the rest. Containers also provide support for multiple frameworks, resulting in increased agility in switching between different programming frameworks or platforms.

So, how can government CIOs and IT teams implement DevOps?

There are three ways. Government IT teams can either grab a copy of "The Phoenix Project," written by DevOps guru Gene Kim, and implement DevOps on their own; outsource their DevOps; or partner with a company that offers technical and subject-matter expertise.

IT teams that elect to implement DevOps on their own must also foster a cultural shift across the organization and invest in new team members and technology. Because DevOps can be disruptive, agencies will need a leader with a strong vision.

To speed the transition and to minimize disruption, agencies may find that it makes more sense to transition to DevOps with a trusted partner familiar with their systems.  That way, the partner can hit the ground running, with specialists and developers working behind the scenes to provide continual support and services for the agency’s unique deployments.

Integrating an outside DevOps team can bring a wide range of expertise to any agency implementation-- cybersecurity,  intelligence, combat or engineering solutions that support smart sensing, directed energy, spectrum management, persistent surveillance and embedded systems. A DevOps firm that understands cutting-edge technology can be extremely helpful in simplifying provisioning, facilitating secure information sharing and data analysis in highly complex environments.

There is no doubt that integrating DevOps into a government agency, if done properly, will speed testing and delivery of next-generation security solutions. 

Need more convincing? I didn’t think so. DevOps is the way forward. Embrace it now, or be left behind.

About the Author

David Coker is senior vice president of information systems at Polaris Alpha.

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