Digital Transformation is a term that’s been widely used for at least a decade. To achieve this, we’ve seen shifts in how projects and products are managed and developed: The transformation from waterfall to agile was made to stay on top of the competition and be adaptive to ride on market trends. Similarly, for products, we’ve seen the advent of microservices and containerization to focus on flexibility and ease of management. To further complement their capabilities, we are now seeing an increase in Kubernetes adoption for cloud-native deployments.
With the lines blurred between Development and Operations, the focus for the last few years has been on the speed of deployments and frequent iterations to applications.
The market now has a variety of DevOps platforms, all promising efficient DevOps metrics post adoptions for faster releases, reduced failure rates, quicker rollbacks, and whatnot. However, what’s the point in doing things faster if you are not doing the right thing? How do you ensure the product aligns with your business value?
Of late, value streams have become a key point of debate for redefining how the product delivers actual business value to customers. In fact, Gartner has now defined a new category of solutions called Value Stream Delivery Platforms or VSDPs in short, in its report “Market Guide for DevOps Value Stream Delivery Platforms”
Simply put, value stream involves mapping or identifying key touchpoints across DevOps that invariably lead to delays or contribute no value to the whole application lifecycle, and doing away with them. In this blog, we will see how a VSDP helps practically implement this concept from theory to practice.
Why do you need to map your value streams ASAP?!
While value streams are key to delivering value right from code to customers, their mapping is what determines how efficient it is. A value stream map helps view the entirety of a process or workflow from start to finish and creates a plan to optimize efforts in getting the value delivered by a company or a product to its desired outcomes. The goals of value stream mapping are to maximize customer satisfaction and minimize waste. Operating in this way allows companies to offer better value and higher quality to their customers by doing more with less.
A few common areas that may lead to waste include:
- Overheads in cost, time, and skills required for multiple DevOps tool orchestrations across teams
- Late approvals with poor collaborations
- Slow handoffs between teams
- Repetitive and avoidable bugs with manual fixes
- Lack of visibility for governance and collaborations
- And many more…
Value stream mapping might not be so much as adding value than identifying and removing points of delays, latency, and bringing in automation. But the point is, how would you practically marry this concept into DevOps? With all the DevOps toolchains, you wouldn’t want to add another…!
This is precisely where a Value Stream Delivery Platform or a VSDP comes in. To better understand the concept of a VSDP, let us first understand what a value stream is and how a delivery platform comes into play:
The concept of a value stream is derived from lean thinking – to understand how value flows continuously in an organization. A value stream is a series of steps that an enterprise uses to create a feature – Ideate, develop a code, test that code, deploy that code and deliver that feature or value to the end-user, whatever that value might be.
From the perception of product management, you could be organized vertically by functional areas: development or test or deployment, or support. But if you want the value to flow, you have to cross these functional boundaries, and think about how multi-functional teams work together to accomplish the flow of value. The fundamental construct of the value stream is to define how we deliver value and how the values are perceived by the user. It has to be continuous, optimized, and harmonized across the entire process and not just any single step.
A value stream is initiated by a new feature request and flows logically as represented above. The steps are activities needed to define and deliver the value, whatever that might be. Information and material flow sequentially, and the dots represent delays in the handoffs and lack of visibility across different teams.
Typically, development starts with source code management (SCM) which deals with code reviews and collaborations. Continuous Integration or CI is the next step where you have the build and test pipelines with your focus on speed. You then secure your builds with static and runtime code scans and shift-left security post which is continuous deployment or CD. This is where you configure / setup infrastructure on-demand with Infrastructure as Code (IaC) across multiple clouds on which applications are deployed through pipelines and monitored with rollbacks where necessary.
Needless to say, all these phases of CI/CD require a subscription to numerous open source and enterprise tools and frameworks. Developers spend most of their time orchestrating these tools and acquiring skills to navigate them rather than developing the product. How then do you ensure end-to-end security, governance, and most importantly, value delivery? There are multiple delivery platforms that integrate with your toolchains but then, that’s it. There is a glaring need in the market for Value Stream Delivery Platforms (VSDPs) that can encompass all stages of CI/CD to provide holistic value delivery.
The following sections elaborate on how exactly a VSDP helps.
The Advent of Value Stream Delivery Platform (VSDPs)
One cannot ignore the need for value stream delivery platforms that can create, deliver, visualize, manage, and orchestrate all the value in DevOps while helping developers refocus on product capabilities at the same time. Gartner in its report for VSDPs, predicts that in the next two years, 40% of organizations would successfully switch to VSDPs from multiple point solutions.
So, what is a value stream delivery platform (VSDP)? It is a unified platform that has the capability to integrate with DevOps tools for streamlining continuous software integrations, development, and delivery.
Holistic value delivery from code to customers can be achieved with a VSDP’s capabilities like planning, continuous integration, continuous deployment and rollback, monitoring, security testing, analyzing value stream metrics, automation, and standardizing deployment workflows. VSDPs integrate with tools across all these phases to provide a single control plane and are extensible by design. Not just tool abstractions, but value stream delivery platforms or VSDPs also provide out-of-the-box capabilities that enhance productivity, collaboration, communication, and business outcomes for product teams.
How does a value stream delivery platform (VSDP) create business value?
Perception on how essential a VSDP really is depends on the cultural, financial, and technical maturity aspects of an organization:
- Small and medium-sized companies: There are many SMEs who have given up on their promised DevOps business outcomes because of a lack of in-house skills, budgets, and poor handling of external dependencies. A VSDP could help reinstate DevOps best practices by minimizing dependencies on skills, funds, and improving visibility across CI/CD for better team collaboration and innovations.
- Large companies/Enterprises on the other hand have hundreds of projects every year with numerous skilled resources floating in and out of the core DevOps teams. They appreciate having a single, unifying platform to facilitate faster onboarding, fewer handovers, maintenance, and eliminating non-value-adding tasks. A VSDP can help achieve all of this and more with its out-of-the-box capabilities and wide range of 3rd party integrations.
A value stream delivery platform (VSDP) can:
- Integrate or offer out-of-the-box capabilities for DevOps tool functionalities (for build, test, scan, integrate, provision, configure, secure, deploy, observe, rollback, etc.) and reduce manual tool orchestrations
- Enable business analysts and product owners to define the features with derived insights from the progress
- Navigate and maintain security with audit logs even with distributed teams, workloads, and infrastructure
- Leverage multi-channel alerts in case of user-defined events to fasten the process and fix errors
- Improve time to market and application availability
- Effective collaborations for code reviews, sharing, and streamlining handoffs
- Offer transparency across all CI/CD stages for better tracking, governance, and compliance
Value stream delivery platforms hold much more long-term value.
Ozone as a Value Stream Delivery Platform
Ozone is a Modern CI/CD Platform specifically designed for cloud-native Kubernetes deployments of modern apps. It offers various out-of-the-box capabilities and numerous meaningful integrations to enable teams to iterate and release faster. With automation and a standardized approach to deployments through Tekton reusable pipelines, Ozone helps DevOps teams save critical time and resources while helping to focus on value delivery.
Here’s how Ozone sits in a typical DevOps landscape as a VSDP. Note the integrations, native capabilities, and the managed services offered to complement the platform :
Plan: Ozone provides native integration with Atlassian Jira Software and ServiceNow for team-level agile planning, backlog management, issue tracking, product road mapping, and other collaborations. It also provides webhooks for bidirectional integration with GitLab, GitHub, and Azure Boards, initiating a release within Ozone when a release/sprint is created in Jira, for example. Any other tool integrations are possible with APIs.
Develop: Ozone, being built over Tekton, has standard re-usable pipelines with 100+ pre-built tasks. This templated version with a drag-and-drop GUI pipeline configurator helps significantly improve build times.
The platform supports declarative, visual, multistage pipelines with support for quality control gates and manual approvals.
Test: Users can define an explicit testing task in the pipeline. Ozone provides native integration with automation tools for unit tests, functional tests, fuzz tests, API tests, and performance tests. It also automates the creation of test environments as part of the continuous integration (CI) workflow using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tools like Ansible and Terraform. Reporting capabilities include test automation reports, environment status and environment discrepancies, such as environments that are out of sync with each other.
Deploy & Operate: Ozone supports advanced deployment patterns like canary and blue-green to multi-cloud environments. It supports granular RBAC for secure project and environment deployments. With Ozone, deploying to Kubernetes can be done with a GUI-based pipeline configurator with dedicated deploy steps, Kustomize, Helm charts, and Kubectl. Ozone uses Prometheus to collect application performance metrics and Grafana for dashboarding of collected metrics. It offers support for automated environment provisioning, configuration management and application deployment by integrating with Ansible, Terraform, Kubespray, and Helm operators.
Ozone also leverages machine learning to automate deployments and detect anomalies to initiate instant rollbacks for better value delivery. Shortly, feature flags would also be available across all versions of Ozone.
Secure, Comply and Govern: Ozone offers an in-built vault (powered by Hashicorp) with dynamic secret injections into the pipelines for secure and automated secrets management across every stage of CI/CD. Security and compliance is provided via pipeline integration to third-party application security testing (AST) tools. To prevent promoting noncompliant changes to production environments, Ozone enables creating compliance rules and enforcing scans for configuration changes. For static analysis of vulnerabilities, Ozone integrates with CodeScan, SonarApex, Trivy, Claire, Prisma, Snyk, and SonarQube. To promote transparency and compliance, Ozone leverages granular RBAC and SSO.
Value Stream Metrics: Ozone leverages data from across the CI/CD pipeline to provide visibility into value stream metrics. It supports DORA metrics and code quality insights like deployment frequency, lead time and change failure rate, mean time to restore, duplications, technical debt, bugs, vulnerabilities, and code coverage. Operational insights are obtained from Prometheus, Grafana Loki and Jaeger.
Deliver end-to-end value to your customers before your competition!
If you have a team that has embraced or is looking at adopting Kubernetes for cross-cloud deployments of microservices, you would invariably be dependent upon a complex DevOps toolchain. While you might be using a platform for orchestrating certain part or parts of the CICD processes, getting a holistic insight and understanding of DevOps productivity would still remain unsolved.
This is where a value stream delivery platform (VSDP) like Ozone makes complete sense. All you have to do is onboard your existing tools, repositories, and infrastructure onto Ozone and leverage the no-code approach to quickly pull codes, configure pipelines and automate deployments.
With the time saved from Ozone’s out-of-the-box capabilities (like dynamic secret injections, native builds, ML-based deployment automation, and instant rollbacks, feature flags, and much more), your team can concentrate on actually delivering value, while eliminating processes that do not add much from code to customers.
The icing on the cake is the transparency and analytics you get across all major phases of CICD that help you stay compliant, secure your applications, and bring in governance for better efficiency.
Book a demo today to get a detailed overview of how Ozone can help simplify your DevOps and deliver true value to your customers!