The Digital War Room in Changing Times: The Impacts of DevOps, Cloud and SecOps
April 12, 2018

Dennis Drogseth
EMA

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This is the third in a series of three blogs directed at recent EMA research presented in a webinar on April 11, with replay now available. The first blog provided a general introduction to the highlights of the research, while the second blog focused more on organization and process.

Start with Opening the Gates to the Digital War Room - What is it Now, and What is it Likely to Become?

Start with Organization and Process (Or Lack Thereof) in the Digital War Room

In this blog we'll look at three areas that have emerged in a spotlight in and of themselves — as signs of changing times — let alone as they may impact digital war room decision making. They are the growing focus on development and agile/DevOps; the impacts of cloud; and the growing need for security and operations (SecOps) to team more effectively.

But first a few key takeaways from the first two blogs to ground new readers and remind past readers:

■ These insights and data points are taken from research done in Q1 of this year across 272 respondents in North America and Europe.

■ We left open — to our respondents — whether the digital war room was virtual, physical, or hybrid. (The majority were hybrid. Purely virtual were the least strongly represented.)

■ We found that the digital war room was, on the whole, a: growing, b. becoming more important as well as more inclusive; c. was generally moving toward a more defined and less ad hoc role; d. was becoming, at least by implication, more proactive.

The growing inclusiveness of the digital war room is, needless to say, foundational to our examination of the role of development and DevOps, cloud and SecOps discussed below.

Development and Agile/DevOps — a Growing Role for War Room Integration

Industry dialogs sometimes point to an agile revolution that's effectively dismantling the role of the war room, IT service management teams, and even central operations as a whole. And while the value of unique DevOps teams to coalesce around targeted applications shouldn't be dismissed, the parallel need for a central authority to handle full-stack concerns with an eye to business as well as IT priorities too often gets overlooked.

The digital war room research shines a light on what's really going on here. When we asked Over the last two years, how have development teams worked with operations and other teams in digital war room decision-making? We received the following answers:

■ Development has become more involved in war room decision making (37%)

■ Development's role has remained the same in war room decision making (32%)

■ Agile/DevOps has led to a separate track for war room decision making (16%)

■ Development has become less involved in war room decision making (15%)

In other words, 69% saw development as having either a growing role, or having a sustained role in the digital war room.

Moreover, when we tracked success rates in assuring overall service delivery and service performance, we saw dramatic alignment with those respondents where development had become more involved. Then, when we asked what respondents hoped for in the future, we saw that:

■ 39% indicated that development should become more involved in the digital war room.

■ 25% felt the level of development's involvement should stay the same.

■ 19% felt that development should become less involved.

■ 17% felt there should be a separate track for agile/DevOps decision making.

In other words — the trend toward war room inclusion of development and DevOps teams should continue along somewhat even lines. And once again, success rates favored those targeting increasing development/war room inclusion.

So then, how exactly does development team with operations in the digital war room? The answers, in ranked order, were, via:

■ A shared IT alerting system

■ Shared insights into end-user experience

■ Shared monitoring

■ Shared analytics

■ Incident alerts from the service desk

■ Social media for team-mode collaboration

■ Shared KPIs and alerts

Areas such as shared insights into end-user experience, shared analytics, and social media all point to proactive collaboration critical for DevOps and agile concerns as well as core incident handling — indicating a significant value for lifecycle application optimization.

The "Journey to the Cloud" — Good or Bad for Digital War Room Performance?

In our research, the average response indicated that about 20% of their workloads were in the public cloud, while 15% indicated that 50% or more were in the public cloud. So, was this good or bad for digital war room effectiveness? The answer was overall encouraging:

■ 50% claimed that cloud has made digital war room decision-making easier

■ 41% felt it was making things in the war room harder

■ Only 9% saw no change

When we asked those who felt cloud was making war room decision-making more difficult about the major reason why — the answers, in ranked order, were:

■ Cloud is requiring new skill sets and internal processes

■ Cloud has challenged war room efficiencies due to migration issues

■ Cloud is requiring new processes for interacting with cloud service providers

Security and Insecurity in the Digital War Room

In almost all my research, there are growing indications that security is becoming an ever more present concern for operations and ITSM teams more broadly. And in some unique SecOps research that EMA did last year, the movement is clearly bi-directional, or in other words a shared need that benefits both groups.

In terms of the digital war room, here are a few relevant highlights:

■ 32% of our respondents had some security-related involvement.

■ After ITSM and executive IT, the third most likely to own the digital war room was security/compliance/GRC/incident response.

Improved network security was tied with service performance when it came to optimizing war room performance in hybrid cloud environments. These were followed by integrated security and performance and integrated security and change.

Advanced IT Analytics (AIA), security information and event management (SIEM), and security threat intelligence and analysis led as the top three technologies for war room decision making.

Security-related issues led as the biggest roadblock to effective war room success.

Beyond all these data points, what should stand out is the growing role of digital war rooms in unifying IT in support of critical, cross-domain (including development) decision making. This may be a surprise to some. It was partly a surprise to me. But I was happy to see these war-room affirming results.

Dennis Drogseth is VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)
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