Last month, I discussed the importance of a “DevOps” approach – in which developers work in tandem with systems operators – to insurers.

Recently, IBM posted an interview with two IT leaders from Nationwide Insurance, who talked about the gains they have made as a result of a DevOps approach. Steve Farley, VP of the application development center at Nationwide, and Carmen DeArdo, director, application development leader, provided insights and metrics that illustrate how DevOps made a difference within the IT shop of one of the largest insurers.

Insurers are particularly good candidates for DevOps, which seeks to pair developers, who tend to work at their own pace, with bursts of productivity, with operations people, who thrive on schedules and proper procedures. As Farley puts it: “We’re a highly regulated industry with changes coming at a very fast pace. We have new products and services that need to hit the street, so our software delivery lifecycle is pertinent to the success of our business."

As a direct result of their DevOps initiative, Nationwide's IT team has “created a partnership model to our business, and brought transparency to our business,” Farley says. “The benefits that we're having include productivity, predictability, quality and reuse.” He adds that “58 percent of our teams are in the top quadrant or quartile of the industry based on lines of code produced,” along with a 50 percent increase in quality and a 70 percent reduction in end-user downtime.”

Things are only going to get more hectic for IT departments, DeArdo adds. “As we move forward, things are going to happen more frequently. That will drive that ability to be more agile. The more agile we can be from an IT perspective, the more agile the business is going to be from ideation to deploying a product that benefits our customers.”

DevOps enables Nationwide's IT department to perform continuous integration of its code and continuous deployment into its development environment several times a day. Teams can also perform acceptance testing of customer requirements in the same iteration with development. IT managers can show their internal customers, in near-real time, what developers are producing.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

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