The Agile Executive

Making Agile Work

And Now the Bottle-neck is in Operations

with 4 comments

In his forthcoming Agile Austin presentation, colleague and friend Michael Cote will be discussing velocity in Agile development vis-a-vis velocity in IT operations. To quote Cote:

Technologies used by public web companies and now cloud computing are looking to offer a new way to deliver applications by addressing deployment and provisioning concerns. Agile software development has sped up the actual development of software, and now the bottle-neck is in operations who’re not always able to deploy software at the same velocity that Agile teams ship code. What do these technologies look like, are they realistic, and how might they affect your organization?

The topic is important from a few perspectives, such as the new business models it enables. With Agile infrastructure, a closed loop is formed between vendor and customer. This loop operates on the basis of close to real-time feedback. The new functionality in the software deployed in the afternoon could be in response to a specific need that was brought up in the morning. Hence, the business focus and the business design change from software that has already been developed and tested  (‘done done’) but not yet delivered, to one that has been developed, tested and deployed (‘done done done’) in ultra fast way. 

It should also be pointed out that the line between developing content and developing software gets really blurry nowadays. From a company perspective both software and contents are entities that are being made available for dissemination. If you accept the premise that the generation of content and development of the corresponding software should be done under a unified Agile model, the desirability, the power and the benefits of managing development and delivery in unison become obvious. When applied to both content and software, an agile infrastructure paradigm could easily transform the publishing industry, and others.

In short, the business benefits Agile Infrastructure begets trump the (very significant) operational benefits it enables.

4 Responses

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  1. This is a huge issue, and kudos for calling it out. I’ve faced this on a number of occasions when transitioning teams and organizations to Agile, and wrote about it for the Cutter IT Journal a number of years ago (

    Operations is a group that’s often overlooked when an organization begins to use Agile methods. They can be taken by surprise when teams suddenly start wanting to deploy to production on a much more frequent basis than had previously been the case. There are also cases where the “Gatekeeper” mentality exists, and Operations can stop any hint agility in its tracks.

    My advice to organizations is to always ensure that all groups who could possibly be affected by a change in software delivery process be included in that change as early and often as possible.

    Dave Rooney
    Westboro Systems

    Dave Rooney

    January 18, 2010 at 8:48 am

    • Indeed, this is both a huge issue and a great opportunity. Seems to me tomorrow’s winners will have to excel in developing flexible business designs that are based on a ‘done done done’ operational model. While not everything on the cloud is SaaS, the rise of the cloud poses some incredible opportunities for Agile Infrastructure.

      I am much encouraged by the progress we are making in this space. See for example the list of topics on the agenda for the forthcoimng OpsCamp ‘unconference’ in Austin, TX.



      January 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

  2. The bottleneck is now “also” operations, along with the bottlenecks elsewhere in the workflow that remain largely unrecognized and unaddressed still on most agile teams.

    Really, the operations bottleneck has always been there. Some organization have recognized it, some haven’t. Some are beginning to.

    Scott Bellware

    January 26, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  3. […] Next Tuesday I’ll be giving a talk about Agile Operations at the Agile Austin meeting. Israel Gat had a nice teaser on the topic. […]

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