Since its creation in 2001, the Agile Manifesto has helped transform software development. Many organizations have embraced its iterative approach to development that facilitates the frequent release of working software in short sprints. Teams take on an attitude of “just enough.” For Agile developers, it is more important to deliver software to the clients quickly and often, than to spend a longer period of time perfecting a final product. The customer is able to provide intermittent feedback and developers can adapt accordingly before the last release. The idea is to fail early and fail fast.
Agile has proven itself to be a valuable approach in the Dev environment, but it has not yet been widely considered for IT Infrastructure. Can Infrastructure adapt Agile methods for their own teams to increase the frequency and speed of Infrastructure releases? Critics will argue that Agile is ill-suited to the conservative, risk-averse Infrastructure environment, and it might be if it is not tailored to the needs of individual Operation groups. However, if it is implemented correctly, an Agile approach is EXACTLY what Infrastructure needs to begin matching the agility and adaptability of the Business it supports.
When you remove development from the equation, Agile is simply a philosophy that values people and collaboration over processes and tools. A tool or process is only as effective as the individuals responsible for putting it to use.
Infrastructure is tasked with maintaining a stable environment, delivering new and enhanced functionality to the Business, and ensuring that internal and external regulations are met. It’s no wonder that IT governance is often over-built to protect against failure and outages. This might ensure good control, but also discourages change and makes it almost impossible for Infrastructure to match the speed of Business development, or to keep up with shifting Business priorities. This is where Agile can help.
When Infrastructure gets Agile, the result will be a faster time to market for Infrastructure release, without any sacrifice of control. The appropriate experts will be used advantageously to give the CIO greater confidence in approving more frequent change. IT will be able to embrace a culture of saying YES to the Business, because teams are in place to handle a higher rate of change without risking Infrastructure stability.
Perhaps the greatest value of Agile is in its approach to team collaboration. Walk into an Infrastructure department and you might be hard pressed to know who is working on what. When that shop gets Agile, every single project that Infrastructure takes on will be broken down into tasks, given task owners and deadlines, and moved along a visual board from start to complete. Visibility is increased amongst team members, and outside stakeholders will never have to ask twice about the status of a project.
There will be a massive payoff for Infrastructure teams willing to apply Agile to their change and release processes. The most significant benefits will be faster and more frequent releases and a reduction in change related incidents, but this only scratches the surface of Agile’s value. If you ever dismissed Agile as a philosophy reserved for developers, you should consider taking a second look.
To learn how your Infrastructure team can begin reaping the rewards of this approach, read Info-Tech’s solution set Deploy Changes More Rapidly by Going Agile.