From big data to mobility, technology innovation is changing the landscape of the government contracting industry beneath our feet. However, we often rush to explore the end product of technologies without appreciating the underlying technological processes, which are undergoing rapid change as well.
As software development continues to move away from traditional sequential methodologies toward faster development and deployment of smaller pieces of application software functionality, the Agile methodology is rapidly gaining ground. Agile’s iterative approach to development offers application development managers the opportunity for quick builds and tests so their companies can stay ahead in this competitive market.
Reston, Va.-based CRGT provides Development and Operations (DevOps) services to its clients by ensuring environment standardization and automated integration, builds, and deployment with minimal or no human intervention. According to CRGT, DevOps is a lean approach to collaboration within the Agile development framework that drives a necessary integration among Development, Operations, and the customer.
WashingtonExec recently spoke with Sal Fazzolari, CRGT’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Development, about the impact of DevOps on government clients.
WashingtonExec: What is DevOps, and how is CRGT leveraging it to better serve clients?
Sal Fazzolari: The answer to that question is multifaceted. Many people have a basic understanding of the definition of DevOps, which is an approach to Agile Development and IT operations that integrates Agile Development methodologies and IT Operations technologies so that you can automatically facilitate provisioning of the infrastructure with the ultimate goal of rapid application deployment.
So we ask ourselves this question at CRGT: how do we tailor our DevOps experience and technologies to specific client requirements? Our clients need to prepare their infrastructure to be able to support rapid development and deployment throughout the DevOps process. We need to assess the best way to get that done for them. With this approach, Operations is now part of the process, and the user community and quality assurance become part of the entire process as well. From all of this, you begin to see that traditional IT silos start to fade away.
WashingtonExec: Why is DevOps so important to government agencies?
Sal Fazzolari: We believe that DevOps can make agency transformation achievable now. The real business problems can be achieved within a reasonable time horizon, meaning this year, not next year. DevOps allows faster deployment of innovation that becomes visible to the agency stakeholders.
So DevOps serves government’s needs by saving time, identifying and mitigating risks earlier than the traditional development process, reducing duplication of operational processes, guarantees faster deployment and a reduction in overall costs to the government.
WashingtonExec: Where does IT operations fit into a rapidly changing environment?
Sal Fazzolari: The agencies’ technological infrastructure needs to be poised to serve in a flexible and adaptive manner, which is essentially the meaning of Agile. So for this reason, agencies have embraced the principles of Agile development. And as agencies streamline their development, they begin to realize that they have to streamline their IT operations, too, for an effective DevOps process.
WashingtonExec: The government’s awareness of DevOps is increasing, so why is the adoption process so slow?
Sal Fazzolari: We think it’s slow because you are creating a new development/operating paradigm and it takes time for a large organization to embrace how something new will benefit them. In addition, over a period of decades, agency’s IT infrastructure and systems has evolved and touched many stakeholders who like the systems that they have today. So while implementing change is difficult, DevOps can actually help them achieve change-related objectives.
For example, the government began assessing cloud services years ago, and just within the last couple of years, the benefits of cloud services are being perceived by many as positive. So cloud-based services are now being integrated across many functions. That’s what’s happening with DevOps; we’re starting to see clients realize the benefits and accept DevOps.
WashingtonExec: What industry environmental changes are forcing government agencies to consider DevOps?
Sal Fazzolari: Agencies must be able to respond to several external forces, and these forces include: unexpected regulatory changes, demand for better citizenship services, and, of course, relentless budgetary pressures. These forces create additional pressures for the agency’s IT operations to become more responsive as it performs its functions. Because of this pressure, Operations must be able to adapt to an ever-changing environment and be much more flexible.
We’ve seen this ongoing change over the years with our clients. One of the things we’ve done in response to this process at CRGT is that we created a rapid-pilot development prototype offering. By doing so, we can demonstrate how an agency’s platforms and tools will embrace DevOps as a new development paradigm.
WashingtonExec: Which attributes make an experienced DevOps organization; in other words, what makes one successful and effective?
Sal Fazzolari: This matter comes down to the organization’s culture. An effective organization should have a culture that embraces innovation, has open communication, focuses on stakeholders and their needs, and views IT as an enabler. Couple that with having a sense of urgency and knowing that change is the only constant; these are the core values you should have in a successful organization.
WashingtonExec: What are the biggest challenges CRGT expects to face in the coming year, and how do you plan to meet those challenges?
Sal Fazzolari: I like to view it as an opportunity. We are bringing practical innovation to the market. In this spirit, we designed and built an Agile software development facility, our Agile Center of Excellence, in Chantilly, Virginia, and use this facility with its development pods to demonstrate our Agile software development and DevOps innovation.
I am excited about the future and how CRGT can help the Federal government with regard to implementing a DevOps model.
Related: 2015 Market Outlook: Sal Fazzolari, CRGT Inc. — “Industry, Government Must Come Together”, CRGT’s Sal Fazzolari’s Summer Reading List: From Wall Street to Grain Dangers, SAVE THE DATE: CRGT and VMSI Tee-Up for Sept. Golf Tournament to Benefit Boulder Crest Retreat, CRGT’s Sal Fazzolari Discusses Big Data, Boulder Crest Retreat, 2014 Market Outlook: Sal Fazzolari of CRGT Predicts a Push for Lean Government, CRGT to Host Mobile Device Security Defense and Government Symposium, CRGT Inc. Names Sal Fazzolari SVP of Strategic Development