DevOps: Developing a New Mindset, New Tools and New Skills
With government healthcare agencies increasingly adopting cloud migration, the implementation of DevOps has become an important strategic consideration for serving their growing needs in an effective and efficient manner. At its core, DevOps is about the automation of an agile methodology that requires a new mindset, new tools and new skills – an approach that is at the heart of what C-HIT does.

“DevOps is about continuous integration, continuous deployment and continuous delivery of applications to implement the most efficient method,” says C-HIT’s program director Chris Shafer. “DevOps promotes agile collaboration between developers and operations, which improves the quality of software development and leads to more frequent software releases. We strive to build an IT environment that is fault-free, built on the latest tools, and operationally efficient and reliable. Doing so goes a long way in providing our customers the maximum return on their IT investment.”

DevOps can bring significant benefits to cloud projects, including application development speed-to-delivery, rapid implementation of user requirements, and lowered development, testing, deployment, and operations costs. We strive to not only find quick results, but also find them in the most efficient manner to not disrupt current operations. In fact, C-HIT has demonstrated project specific innovation in the area of complex deployment automation allowing us to significantly reduce time spans for coding, environment building, artifact deployment, and testing from six to nine hours initially, to under two-and-a-half hours.

The DevOps model enhances collaboration by integrating the development and operations teams; increases productivity by automating infrastructure and workflows; and improves reliability by emphasizing continuous measurement of application performance. DevOps teams aim to automate everything – from testing of new code to how infrastructure is provisioned.

Here are Chris’ top 3 tips on how the optimization of your DevOps can benefit government healthcare agencies:

  • Shorten the feedback loop. Aim to reduce the communications time to get feedback from a matter of days to almost real-time and encourage your team to be tightly integrated. At C-HIT, we have established specific metrics in customer projects to shorten this feedback loop, including striving to respond to customer reported incidents within 15 minutes and completing individual deployment tasks within 35 to 40 minutes.

  • Integrate tools in smart ways to communicate more efficiently. Instead of relying on traditional email exchange that clogs inboxes, build an efficient model of collaboration by installing plug-ins from communications platforms, such as Slack.

  • Build a guideline for application releases. Provide the application release team with a playbook for daily releases to help calibrate data and translate it into a release time chart. This chart will depict the difference between expected-versus-actual time consumed for various releases. It will also help the CMMI process teams to visualize how this technique is being optimized for accomplishing such releases. The usage of a playbook will lead to efficient identification of bottlenecks as well as action items that can be optimized for future releases.

Effective implementation of a DevOps methodology can help government agencies to innovate faster. However, it requires development and operations teams to break down silos and work better together. The DevOps methodology can be an effective tool for change, but only when these two teams work with a philosophy of shared responsibility and common thinking. After all, spending more time and effort on the things that add greater value to the organization always results in better customer service at the end of the day.