Disciplined Agile

IT Operations Practices

The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit promotes an adaptive, context-sensitive strategy so that you may have a fit-for-purpose way of working (WoW). DA does this via its goal-driven approach that indicates the decision points that you need to consider, a range of techniques or strategies for you to address each decision point, and the advantages and disadvantages of each technique. Figure 1 overviews the potential activities associated with Disciplined Agile IT Operations.

IT Operations Goal Diagram

Figure 1. The Operations process blade (click on diagram for larger version).

The decision points that you need to consider for IT Operations are: 

  1. Run solutions. Your IT operations efforts exist to run your organization’s IT solutions in production.
  2. Manage infrastructure. Your IT ecosystem is made up of the solutions that you build and buy as well as the infrastructure (hardware, software, network, cloud, and so on) that those solutions run on. This infrastructure must be managed and evolved over time.
  3. Manage configurations. You need to understand the configuration of your IT ecosystem, including dependencies between various aspects of it, to support impact analysis of any potential changes. Traditional strategies are centered around manual maintenance of configuration and dependency metadata, a risky and expensive proposition at best. Agile strategies focus on deriving/generating the required metadata from your IT ecosystem.
  4. Evolve infrastructure. You will evolve your IT ecosystem over time, upgrading databases, operating systems, hardware components, network components, and many more. This is certainly true if you run your own ecosystem on premises, but it is also true even with a cloud-based approach.  Even when you are “100% cloud” there is always some on-premises infrastructure, and the cloud-based offerings evolve over time and you will need to react accordingly. Due to the significant coupling of your IT-based solutions to your infrastructure, and infrastructure components to other aspects of your infrastructure, this can be a risky endeavor (hence the need to identify the potential impact of any change before making it).
  5. Mitigate disasters. Disciplined organizations will plan for operational disasters. Potential disasters include servers going down, network connectivity going down, security breaches, power outages, failed solution deployments, failed infrastructure deployments, natural disasters such as fires and floods, terrorist attacks, and many more. Furthermore, it is one thing to have disaster mitigations plans in place, it is another to know whether they actually work. Disciplined organizations will run through disaster scenarios to verify how well their mitigation strategies work in practice. This can be done on a scheduled basis at first, evolving into unscheduled or “random” problems via chaos engineering strategies, and eventually even full-fledged disaster scenarios.
  6. Govern IT operations. As with other process blades, the activities of IT Operations must be governed effectively. Operational governance is part of your organization’s overall Governance efforts.

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