How Embracing DevOps has Benefitted Large Corporations

With the practices of CI/CD and DevOps becoming more and more popular in the IT world, a number of large corporations have switched from traditional software development methods to these effective new approaches.

With so many organisations resisting the change to continuous integration, it’s refreshing to see some major CI/CD success stories that are literally saving companies millions. Obviously, CI/CD won’t have this large-scale effect on all businesses, as most simply aren’t powerhouses like Amazon or Netflix. However, just because you’re not in charge of a multi-billion-pound corporation, doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from CI/CD.

DevOps

An overview of the DevOps process

Amazon

It’s likely that everyone reading this has had some experience dealing with Amazon at some point in their life. Amazon covers a number of markets, from online shopping to online streaming services, all over the world. The sheer amount of traffic that passes through their website is immense. Any outage, however brief, could result in losses in the hundreds of thousands! Because of this, they must always look towards more efficient methods of maintaining and upgrading their huge online store.

In 2010, Amazon shifted from using physical servers to what is now called the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. Since they started using CI/CD, Amazon has reduced deployment outages by 75% and the duration of said outages by 90%. At their peak, Amazon average a new software deployment every 11.6 seconds, totalling over 1000 deployments an hour. What’s even more impressive is that approximately one out of every 100,000 deployments result in an outage on their site. This means that only 0.001% of deployments cause problems. Former Amazon lead engineer Josh Jenkins believes that the transition to CI/CD has saved Amazon millions.

With such frequent deployments, Amazon must be using a continuous deployment strategy opposed to continuous delivery. Regardless of their strategy, Amazon are a prime example of the correct way to switch to a DevOps-based strategy.

Netflix

Netflix has become a staple of modern life in a remarkably short amount of time. With almost 140 million subscribers worldwide, it’s one of the world’s largest streaming services. Despite starting as a DVD rental service, transitioning to CI/CD has allowed Netflix to move fully into online streaming.

It took eight years for Netflix to complete their transition to cloud services, only finishing the process in early 2016. Netflix builds their software in anticipation of failure. Once you accept that things are likely to wrong, you can prepare for problems as they arise and try to get out in front of them. Netflix started using this strategy after they experienced a service outage on Christmas Eve 2012.  With the estimation that an hour of downtime could now cost $200,000, transitioning to DevOps allows for the best preparation to keep failure to a minimum.

It’s impossible to have new software prepared for failure using traditional development methods. However, the application of continuous integration and delivery means that Netflix can adequately prepare for outages and mistakes when integrating new code.

Their success in implementing DevOps culminated in Netflix being awarded the 2015 JAX Special Jury Award. This was in recognition of “pioneering work from Netflix’s development team” and the “huge influence on innovation in IT”.

NASA

When people think of NASA, they tend to think of things like the moon landing, the international space station and exploring the unknown – not DevOps. However, without DevOps, NASA wouldn’t have been able to explore as far and wide as they have.

Saying that DevOps is the reason that NASA has managed to develop and implement the Mars Rover project sounds like an exaggeration, but it isn’t. NASA has often been at the forefront of developing new technologies to let us venture further and further away from Earth.

NASA started using CI/CD technology back in 2004 and have using it on a variety of projects ever since. Updated software needs to be constantly deployed to the Rover to give it new instructions and receive the raw data that it collects from samples on Mars.

mars_rover_DevOps

DevOps has been vital to the ongoing success of the Mars Rover Project

Adobe

Adobe is synonymous with software and technology. Creating iconic products such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Acrobat, it isn’t a stretch to suggest that most computers around the world could very well have an Adobe product installed on them. Adobe’s products are easy to download these days, but that wasn’t always the case.

Five years ago, Adobe transitioned from selling their products as packages that contained software updates every six months to selling them as downloadable content with frequent, minor updates.

Adobe uses CI/CD to manage when their deployments go live. This textbook use of continuous delivery allows them to consistently improve their user experience of their product catalogue. It also allows them to deploy updates if and when they’re necessary. This is better than the prior alternative of forcing their users to update their products every day.

Since switching to a cloud-based system, Adobe has been easily able to meet the higher demand for the development of their products. With that demand increasing by 60% since the cloud was implemented.

Target

Target sells everything from clothing to kitchenware and is one of the most recognizable retail brands in the world. Despite not being an expensive fashion label, Target aims to supply high-quality goods – but at affordable prices. To keep these prices low, they have to be as efficient as possible. This is where DevOps comes in.

A perfect example of a company that was initially hesitant to make the change to a DevOps system, Target started out by permitting a few of their teams to employ DevOps strategies. Now, they have gone as far has holding specific DevOps training days across all divisions within the company.

Every quarter, Target hold a forum where their software engineers can request new products in an attempt to further streamline their DevOps processes. The area in which the transition to DevOps is most obvious is in Target’s Mobile Savings app.

The implementation of DevOps practices has reduced the onboarding process for new projects from thirty days to just five. Target’s CIO, Mark Mickman, has stated they’re aiming to get the time down to as little as two hours.

Nordstrom

Much like Target, Nordstrom are a retailer that offer high-quality clothing at affordable prices. However, it took a rude awakening to convince them to make the transition to DevOps.

When their development model still relied on big-batch releases and shared services, they developed a program that took over two years to launch. By the time it was ready, the software was obsolete.

By making the change to DevOps, Nordstrom have reduced the number of bugs on their online store. They’ve also increased the frequency of their software releases from every six months to every month. Nordstrom’s monthly release schedule indicates that haven’t fully embraced CI/CD as a new way of development. However, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Conclusion

It’s highly unlikely that implementing a DevOps strategy is going to save your company the millions it has potentially saved the companies outlined above. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a roaring success on a smaller scale.

These companies are proof that CI/CD can not only work at the upper echelons of business –  but can thrive. Modernising your software and development strategies is another step in not only saving money but being able to provide a superior product or service to consumers.

If you’re curious about how much money implementing DevOps and CI/CD practices could save your company, get in touch and I’ll help you find out!

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