SoftBank transitions to DevOps work environment with Red Hat methodologies

SoftBank Corp., a Japanese multinational telecommunications and internet company, announced it is embracing a DevOps culture by adopting a slew of Red Hat open source technologies and services, including Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform and Red Hat Consulting.

DevOps isn’t so much a product as much as it is a method intended to break down barriers between software developers and IT operations teams in an effort to bolster time-to-market applications. While transitioning to a DevOps culture, SoftBank adopted Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform as its in-house development platform. Containers — a lightweight form of technology that enables multiple applications to be launched on a single operating system — have played an important role in melding software developers with IT operations teams, Brian Gracely, director of product strategy at Red Hat, told RCR Wireless News.

“Containers are beginning to bridge that divide because they are applicable to both groups. They help developers have a consistent, standard way to package their applications, as well as test them in automated systems. For operators, containers are the unit of work that have to be deployed, orchestrated, secured, and networked, using platforms like Red Hat OpenShift. As containers bring a commonality of language, process and technology between the Dev and Ops teams, as well as container application platforms, we’re seeing this technology framework allowing different teams to work more closely together.”

Red Hat said its OpenShift Container Platform is intended to help developers and IT operations teams create and deploy applications across hybrid cloud environments. Highlighting some of the challenges companies face transitioning to DevOps work environment, Gracely noted:

“The biggest hurdle is the same challenge that every technology company faces, which is the Innovator’s Dilemma. It can be difficult for people to embrace a new, more agile approach when they think it’ll impact their existing set of processes, which work for the current business. There’s also the challenge of re-training people to be capable of working with the innovative technologies coming out of the open source communities.”

SoftBank originally came to Red Hat with the aim of delivering a unified platform by the end of next year. The company ran a pilot project based on a plan from a Red Hat DevOps Discovery Workshop, which provided an overview of what a successful DevOps transition could look like. The project, deemed a Personal Account Management (PAM) solution, was a web application meant to respond to enquiries from SoftBank customers leveraging artificial intelligence. Once the project proved to be a success, SoftBank decided to use the service to manage the needs of its customers.

As part of the initiative, SoftBank said it is increasing the number of teams using DevOps from one to six, and is leveraging an internal task force known as ARK Agile Labo to promote DevOps across company departments. Red Hat said it aims to move half of the systems developed and managed by the Platform Control Division to DevOps by the end of FY2018. Commenting on what businesses can do to achieve a successful DevOps migration in advance, Gracely said:

“Change never completely happens overnight, but to make it successful, it needs to be both bottom-up and top-down. Leadership teams need to recognize the need to have more adaptable businesses, and IT teams need to be prepared for more software-centric, highly-automated environments. By putting smaller teams in place to work on newer projects, which embrace technologies like containers and methodologies like DevOps, the business can show what’s possible to impact the business. Then scaling out these learnings in an open, collaborative culture, is the new model of how successful companies will compete and succeed in the digital era.”

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