DevOps Opens Door To Helping Customers Transform Their Business, Not Just Run It

Strategic service providers and solution providers have opportunities to generate business from DevOps in four main categories, although each of them comes with pros and cons, said 10th Magnitude's Jason Rook during a session at XChange 2016 Sunday.

DevOps, which Rook defines as a ’cultural movement’ for improving customer outcomes, brings together developers and operations staff to work side-by-side to enable better agility, cost-efficiency and quality at their organizations.

’DevOps leads to high-performing IT organizations,’ Rook, vice president of customer and partner success at Chicago-based 10th Magnitude, told attendees at XChange, being held this week in San Antonio and hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

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That means deploying software changes more frequently, making changes with fewer failures and recovering faster from failures, among other things, Rook said.

Where strategic service providers and solution providers come in is in providing help with these four main categories: methodologies, platforms, tools and management, he said.

Methodology means going in and helping a customer with the cultural change necessary for DevOps, Rook said.

On the plus side, DevOps is a high-margin service with clear upsell opportunities, according to Rook. However, there are drawbacks, including the fact that strategic service providers and solution providers will need highly skilled people to pull it off and sell to multiple different types of buyers within companies, he said. ’Odds are good at least one of these [audiences] is new to you,’ Rook said.

Helping with DevOps platforms means supporting infrastructure for continuous software delivery, which is a reasonable transition for most strategic service providers today, Rook said. There’s also an opportunity for recurring revenue streams, and the transaction models are becoming more clear as the ecosystem matures, he said.

Strategic service providers and solution providers, however, will still need a sizable investment in people, while selling to multiple audiences will still be required and the platform ecosystem is quickly being commoditized, Rook said.

Another opportunity lies in selling, implementing and maintaining DevOps tools, which also offers recurring revenue possibilities and is a logical pairing with the platform sale, he said.

Cons includes that this is a highly fluid ecosystem -- both legacy players and early stage startups are active in it -- while tools buyers are very diverse and carry both emotional and allegiance baggage, Rook said.

Finally, on management, strategic service providers have an opportunity to provide managed services for the customer’s entire DevOps life cycle, which at the moment is still an opportunity down the road, he said.

A situation where a customer comes to a strategic service provider and says, ’I want to be a DevOps culture; I want you to make that happen’ is not necessarily occurring right now, Rook said, though ’we are seeing portions of this start to happen."

How far along is the business world in exploring DevOps? Many ISVs are ’all in,’ Rook said, although other enterprises are starting to do DevOps ’in pockets -- not full scale across the board.’

Michael Lomonaco, director of marketing at Open Systems Technologies, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based solution provider, told CRN that "the obvious opportunity is on the platform and tools side, which is more familiar to solution providers."

’However, I think the real opportunity, and where OST has gone into this, is on the dialogue that occurs with the customer, where you can talk about how it’s a culture thing, not a widget we’re selling," Lomonaco said. "The focus as a solution provider [with DevOps] is on providing customers with opportunities for growing their business and transforming their business -- not just running it.’