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BizDevOps tools await enterprise maturity

PagerDuty, Splunk and other vendors have added BizDevOps features to their IT management tools, but if they build it, will enterprises come?

Numerous tools are available that facilitate the alignment of business and IT objectives -- also known as BizDevOps -- but most enterprises still lack the maturity to use them effectively.

The latest BizDevOps tool release came this week from PagerDuty, which rolled out a set of features for its incident response platform called Business Response. The base PagerDuty platform, licensed for teams and businesses, now includes Business Response dashboards that translate IT incident data into business terms at no extra cost. At the highest license tier of the PagerDuty Modern Incident Response platform, Business Response also includes templated updates, proactive push notifications and subscriptions to service status updates that target nontechnical employees the same way PagerDuty's core product targets IT incident responders.

PagerDuty is far from alone among IT vendors that seek to align their tools with the BizDevOps ideal. APM vendors such as AppDynamics and New Relic also offer dashboards and workflows for business stakeholders. Splunk, a log analytics vendor -- and a fresh PagerDuty competitor, thanks to its June 2018 acquisition of VictorOps -- rolled out Splunk Business Flow in April 2019, a data mining product for business operations. Atlassian, too, automates incident response for business stakeholders with Opsgenie.

However, whether most enterprise organizations have actually aligned with BizDevOps practices yet remains unclear, analysts said.

"Overall, as systems become more and more important to driving customer value, they're going to start infiltrating more areas of the business and the business side of how people are operating," said Rachel Stephens, analyst at RedMonk, based in Portland, Maine. "But it's still a question of trying to figure out how to move into new markets for all of these competitors."

PagerDuty Business Response
PagerDuty's Business Response tool puts IT incidents in context for business stakeholders.

BizDevOps a lofty goal, but many enterprises are stuck in the weeds

Obviously, IT vendors wouldn't build new products without any market demand, and PagerDuty execs said customers are champing at the bit to automate business stakeholder workflows during times of crisis. PagerDuty began to address that desire in September 2018 with PagerDuty Visibility, which correlates IT incident responders' views of data with how they relate to IT and business services.

Splunk execs also firmly believe BizDevOps is where the market is headed, but said a majority of enterprise customers still struggle with it.

It requires leadership to realize they have to develop a sense of urgency, because the clock is ticking. You might not necessarily get the kind of warning you expect about disruption, and the transformation will probably take longer than you have time for once you get that warning.
Carmen DeArdoIndependent DevOps consultant; senior value stream management strategist, Tasktop

"Many of our customers still deal with disjointed teams -- it's like DevSecOps, it's heading in that direction, but [BizDevOps] is probably not as close [to widespread adoption] as IT and security," said Tim Tully, CTO of Splunk. "The business side has to become more agile. People are seeing convergence in IT, and the world is evolving, and business has to evolve along with it."

IT experts that consult with enterprise clients, however, said that evolution has been very slow so far.

"We see organizations that want to close the gap between the IT perspective and business perspective of products. But that means addressing not just features, but defects, risks and debt, and what we see is companies double down on CI/CD" said Carmen DeArdo, an independent DevOps consultant, as well as a senior value stream management strategist at Tasktop, a software lifecycle management company in Vancouver, B.C. "We're very good in the middle of the value stream, in terms of visibility and velocity, but we don't have a good idea of how work flows into it [from the business side]."

Enterprises need products such as PagerDuty's Business Response to address defects and risks, and protect the stability of products, as well as quickly develop new features for them. That whole concept gets less attention from DevOps shops than it should, DeArdo said.

"If I have great features, but a lot of problems with stability, my customer will be dissatisfied," he said. "But very few companies outside of software companies have thought of things from that perspective -- most struggle mightily to determine how to organize around these ideas."

DevSecOps carries the "stick" of possible breaches and company liability, along with the "carrot" of improved IT efficiency, which push enterprises to embrace it faster. However, the risk of BizDevOps delay, eventual disruption by leaner competitors, may be less immediately obvious for many businesses.

"It requires leadership to realize they have to develop a sense of urgency, because the clock is ticking," DeArdo said. "You might not necessarily get the kind of warning you expect about disruption, and the transformation will probably take longer than you have time for once you get that warning."

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