automate or die – the revolution will be automated
photo by David Blackwell.
The worst enemy of companies today is thinking that they have the best processes that exist, that their IT organizations are using the latest and greatest technology and nothing better exists in the field. This mentality will be the undermining of many companies.
Innovation is and always has separated the victors in industry. Innovation is constantly pushing what can be automated. Most tech companies are essentially american auto companies pre-Ford.
|Other guys||Fort Model T|
|made by hand||assemly line|
|12.5 hours to build||1.5 hours|
What we do manually is constantly being automated. Why? Because automation saves time, improves efficiency and enables feedback control. Without automation tasks have to be done manually which increases errors.
People make mistakes, call in sick, forget to perform tasks, leave and get things wrong. A computer, when properly programmed, gets it right all the time. - Hilton Lipschitz
If the tasks involve multiple steps done by different people then the total time to completion rises exponentially. Why does time to completion rise when different steps of a task ? The time rises because of the queueing time between people.
The book, The Phoenix Project, lays out the impact of passing a task to another person or group in the following graphic:
What the graphic shows is that the busier the person is who is responsible for the next step the longer it takes from them to complete the task and the time goes up exponentially the busier they are. At one major customer of mine on Wall St., a single request to provision a copy of a database required 34 approvals. No wonder that customer took typically 3-6 months to provision a copy of a database.
If you are a CIO of a company and you want to improve the productivity and agility of your development teams, what is the most important improvement you can make? The most important improvement you can make depends on what the bottleneck is in you development organization. The only way to improve the efficiency of an organization is to improve the efficiency of the main constraint, the bottleneck. Improving efficiency elsewhere is just an illusion at best or detrimental at worst. Only by tuning the bottleneck will you increase productivity. One you find the bottleneck automate it if possible.
Considering IT as a data factory, we could apply the DFA principles to data and enumerate them as:
- Reduce the number of people, steps, and parts to get data clones provisioned.
- Simplify and standardize the steps that must remain
- Automated provision wherever possible
- Use standard Data Management Processes across data clones of all flavors.
- Simplify the process to connect data clones to the hosts and applications that need it.
- Encapsulate or eliminate the need for special knowledge to get a data clone to operate; Make it Dead Simple.
First task is to find out what the the bottleneck is. The most common bottleneck is provisioning environments for development and test.
Operations can never deliver environments upon demand. You have to wait months or quarters to get a test environment. When that happens terrible things happen. People actually horde environments. They invite people to their teams because the know they have reputation for having a cluster of test environments so people end up testing onenvironments that are years old which doesn’t actually achieve the goal. - Gene Kim
The most powerful thing that orgs can do is to enable dev and testing to get environment when they need it” – Gene Kim
Much of environment provisioning has begun to be automated already with Puppet, Chef and virtual machines. What is not been automated until recently is the provisioning of database copies. What is the impact of not automating database provisioning? What is the cost to companies of being constrained by the enormous bureaucracy of provisioing QA, development and reporting environments?
The impact we’ve seen have been
- 96% of QA cycle time spent building for QA environments instead of testing
- single threaded QA work because of limited ability to provision concurrent environments
- 95% data storage spent on duplicate data with storage limits constraining and impeding what data can been copied
- 90% of developer lost time due to waiting for data in development environments
- 50% of DBA time spent making database copies constraining availability on other important work
- 20% of bugs of production bugs slipping in because of using subsets in development and QA
A clear indication of the impact is to compare efficiencies before automating database provisioning with virtual databases and after. After companies have implemented Delphix automated virtual database provisioning we see
- QA has gone from 4% efficiency to 99% efficiency meaning 99% of a QA cycle is actually running the QA suite instead of waiting for a QA environment build
- Accelerated QA work with the ability to provision many environments concurrently
- Petabytes of storage freed and little to no limit on number of environments that can be provisioned
- Companies have doubled or more development team output
- DBA’s have gone from 8000 hours/year of database copying to 8 hours
- Elimination of bugs slipping into production due to using old or subset data for QA
Delphix accelerates application releases driving revenue growth while driving costs down.
This is why Delphix is used by
- Fortune #1 Walmart
- #1 pharmaceutical Pfizer
- #1 social Facebook
- #1 US bank Wells Fargo
- #1 networking Cisco
- #1 cable provider Comcast
- #1 auction site Ebay
- #1 insurance New York Life
- #1 chip manufacture Intel
The list goes on.
“ What is so provocative about that notion is that any improvement not made at the constraint is an illusion. If you fix something before the constraint you end up with more work piled up in front of the constraint. If you fix something after the constraint you will always be starved for work. In most transformations, if you look at what’s really impeding flow, the fast flow of features, from development to operations to the customer, it’s typically IT operations. … Operations can never deliver environments upon demand. You have to wait months or quarters to get a test environment. When that happens terrible things happen. People actually horde environments. They invite people to their teams because the know they have reputation for having a cluster of test environments so people end up testing one environments that are years old which doesn’t actually achieve the goal. … One of the most powerful things that organizations can do is to enable development and testing to get environment they need when they need it” - Gene Kim