DevOps may seem like an esoteric exercise for tech departments, but it’s much more than that. It’s all about rapidly delivering technology solutions as they are needed by the business and its customers, while ensuring quality processes and testing are in place. As insurance companies increasingly digitize their operations, reach out to customers via apps and online services, and employ big data analytics for everything from telematics to fraud prevention, any hiccups in software delivery may mean delays and losses.

That’s why DevOps – which aligns the innovative work of developers with the delivery capabilities of operations – is so important. The ability to launch and sustain online services depends upon it.

These features are outlined in a recently updated ebook, DevOps for Dummies, published by IBM. Sanjeev Sharma and Bernie Coyne, both with IBM, outline the benefits of DevOps in this latest collaboration, and outline the key areas in which DevOps can help sharpen up operations:.

Application life cycle management (ALM): ALM, which is a set of processes employed to manage the life of an application as it evolves from an idea (a business need) to an application that’s deployed and eventually under maintenance – can be greatly enhanced and supported through DevOps. “DevOps broadens the scope of ALM to include business owners, customers, and operations as part of the process,” Sharma and Coyne state. “The DevOps Develop/Test adoption path most closely aligns with the traditional ALM capabilities of requirements management, change management, version control, traceability, and test management.”

Scaling Agile: Lean and agile development are considered the best path for producing solutions of high value to the business, but the challenge has been making it work outside of individual departments. “Scaling lean and agile principles beyond the development team to a team of teams and across the entire product and software delivery life cycle is core to the DevOps approach,” Sharma and Coyne point out.

Multi-tier applications. Complexity is the name of the game in large enterprise data centers. As the authors point out, “it’s not uncommon to find multi-tier applications that span many platforms, each with its own unique development process, tools, and skill requirements. Managing and coordinating the releases of the parts of multiple-tier systems, many of which may be on different platforms, can be overwhelming even for the most disciplined IT organization.” DevOps offers order in this chaos, with coordinated, standardized and mostly automated tools and practices for building, configuring and deploying processes through all stages of development.

Supply chains: Insurance organizations probably have supply chains just as extensive as those of manufacturers, incorporating agents, brokers, financial institutions, technology providers, and other vendors. “In an organization that has adopted a supply-chain model for delivering software, adopting DevOps can be a challenge, because the relationships among suppliers are managed more by contracts and service level agreements than by collaboration and communication,” Sharma and Coyne admit. However, DevOps teams can provide centralized capabilities for planning, measurement, reporting and asset management.

Internet of Things. As the industry moves deeper into IoT-driven processes and services, DevOps can offer what is referred to as “continuous engineering” that can keep IoT assets aligned and delivering on a 24x7 basis. “Collaboration between the development and testing teams and the systems engineers is crucial to ensure that hardware and software are developed and delivered in a coordinated manner despite hardware and software development needing to follow different delivery cycles,” Sharma and Coyne state. 

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