Flux7 Looks To Drive Successful DevOps Pilots With Automated Solution Packages

As a solution provider focused on cutting-edge engagements, Flux7 has seen its fair share of enterprises embark on a journey toward DevOps application development and management processes.

The Austin, Texas-based Amazon Web Services partner has also seen plenty of DevOps initiatives fail, which motivated a deep dive on data collected from past customers. That analysis resulted in a fuller understanding of the stages of those transformation projects, and where they often ran aground, Flux7 CEO Aater Suleman told CRN.

With that insight, Flux7 this week launched Flux7 Renovate, a set of curated packages for modernizing environments through automated implementations of popular applications accompanied by DevOps training from its experts, Suleman said.

[Related: 10 Cool DevOps Tools To Know About In 2018]

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The initial Renovate application portfolio stems from a review of requests from Flux7's last 50 customers.

It includes Cloudera for data analytics; Solr and Elasticsearch for search services; SugarCRM; Magento and SAP Hybris on the e-commerce side; and Enterprise WordPress, Drupal and Adobe Experience Manager for content management systems.

Flux7 not only accelerates adoption of those solutions (most customer-facing because that's where competitive pressures typically arise), but helps customers identify their larger end-goals, Suleman said.

"Rather than asking a lot of questions and expecting the customer to make decisions about technologies they've never heard of," Suleman said, the Renovate packages enable Flux7 to suggest specific solutions that lead customers to the next step on the journey.

That approach helps overcome common impediments, such as customers not identifying a tangible problem, not defining the criteria for success, or getting bogged down trying to learn a new technology.

Over the past few years, Flux7 engagements have included a questionnaire to cull information about customer environments.

Last year, "we started connecting data on what people are really asking us for," Suleman told CRN.

Based on that data, the company introduced an enterprise DevOps framework to help customers determine the capabilities they need to execute a successful DevOps strategy across two crucial fronts—culture, and automation and productivity solutions.

This year Flux7 took an even more granular view, detailing a common pattern, or "buying cycle," for most customers, Suleman said.

Flux7 realized that many DevOps initiatives didn't materialize due to confusion at various stages of that cycle that often led those enterprises to the wrong conclusions on what undermined their projects.

The buying cycle typically starts with a customer realizing they have a competitive challenge -- and a specific problem that needs to be solved to address it.

That spurs the "approach" phase, Suleman said, with research on how to attack the problem through an upgrade of an existing application.

The "design" phase follows, where the customer explores various tools and frameworks. That involves decisions on modernizing by adopting containers or cloud -- public or private.

Then comes the "pilot" phase, which often "takes them into this frenzy" of implementing a technology that changes how they did things in the past.

"If the pilot goes wrong, you basically waste a lot of time," Suleman said. "And it can go wrong for many reasons."

But when that happens, customers often blame the "approach" or "design" phase's selection of technology, when the setback was really a faulty "pilot" implementation.

"That's where a consultant can really come in and help," Suleman said.

But many enterprises have concerns about bringing in a consultant at the pilot phase.

Customers often "don’t know what they don’t know," he said, and fear a consultant could take advantage of that ignorance.

"They don’t even have the skills to evaluate if someone does the job right. But at same time they're not sure they can do it themselves," Suleman said.

That's why a consultant needs to demonstrate a solution that's "highly tangible" and credibility in solving real-world problems, he said.

The Flux7 Renovate packages look to deliver those tangible pilot solutions through four tiers of engagement.

The Bronze, Silver, and Gold tiers offer various levels of "very opinionated solutions." A Platinum tier is for customers that have a unique vision involving a more customized solution.

"We need a conversation starter," Suleman said, where Flux7 can explain what can be achieved, and what it will cost.

By facilitating rapid deployment of popular apps, Flux7 hopes enterprises will test the waters and start a process toward a more comprehensive DevOps transformation, he said.

"We make that first pilot project extremely smooth and opinionated for the customer," he said.