DX : What is the secret sauce?
We think we have found it. Other than the bi-modal approach so much described by Gartner and others, there has for a long while been little clue as to how to make the Digital Transformation (DX) successfully. This article in the CIO magazine highlights the topic rich in quandaries. I think, we may have stumbled across the secret sauce that makes DX possible. Actually, it’s not only a sauce, it’s a whole recipe with three ingredients.
Think for a moment – the promise of DX is that business somehow absorbs IT so that IT morphs in a very natural extension of the line-of-business function. It becomes the super juice that make the business shift gears in to a higher level of competitive advantage and commercial achievement. Holy grail of the business and technology partnership. No less.
Many astute IT operators are quite cynical about this vision of the future. Not out of principle mind, but because there has not yet been found a practical way to make it work. Until now. Maybe.
What I am about to expound is not so much a new thing, in as much as each of the individual parts have been around our feet for some time, but I suspect few of us have set things together in the way that makes them play in concert, a fusion of different flavours.
So, consider the things briefly that keep us from moving fast:
- Established process
- Paradigms around risk management
- Patch protection
- Unwieldy architecture
- Integration worries
How do we transcend this effectively? By way of a merger of business, technology and process thinking. Let’s start with the hardest part.
The inherit technology structure. Answer: Microservices. Why? Take a moment and consider the concept – find a cogent technical discussion here – but in a nutshell it is an architecture that combines a whole app (literally everything necessary to run the app, very importantly including the OS) in a cocoon with clearly defined and governed interfaces to the outside world. Benefits – as far as DX is concerned the following:
- It’s a contained, micro sandbox environment – hence you can pretty much set off a nuke inside it and no-one outside the cocoon will care – and…such strong risk management means that with an eyes open approach, except in one or two specific use cases, you can ignore most change management. For larger enterprises this will be a bit more complicated, but still easier than the stock standard. Read massively increased speed of delivery.
- The strong emphasis on industrial strength interfaces means it plays well with old and new, big and small, cloud and other very disparate technologies.
- It can scale. Seriously. Chuck in the cloud and inflate at will. One or two caveats but mainly true.
- In some ways most importantly, it enables delivery transformation, coming next…
Delivery Transformation. You know this already. Agile, scrum, lean, yep, yep, yep, its old but the results can now be different. Better. Why? Your Microservice should be based on a discreet item of business value, a small discreet product of a week or two’s work. Business impact? Fail quick. Succeed quick. Failure can be contained inside the Microservice nuke resistant architecture. Further the quick failure will give you the time to recover. Success is concrete and measurable and can be reported on quickly. Anyone here heard of ‘Quick wins’?
Ownership. We know devops. Those who build it own it. What would be the DX version of devops? Try busops. You put a business person in charge of a small hyper focused multidisciplinary team developing a discreet bit of business value, and make the business person and every person right through the other end of the delivery pipeline own it. Think end-to-end ownership, think end-to-end quality assurance, think end-to-end communications integrity, think end-to-end connected sponsorship, think end-to-end pride in accomplishment. DX. Right there.
T’s and C’s apply. Obviously.
I’m pretty sure I sound glib. I challenge you however, meditate on this and it will come to you, how it can work in your environment.
As always, call us if you need help!