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Perspectives

Being ready for Cyber Everyday: How cloud and DevOps help you scale for the holidays and beyond

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

For consumers, Cyber Monday marks the official start of the online holiday shopping season. Behind the scenes, however, store operators will have been in full swing for some time, and additional computing capacity is being reserved to handle the expected surge in traffic. But this “all hands on deck” situation comes at a cost.

November 15, 2018

A blog post by Atilla Terzioglu, principal; Jimmy Man, principal; Kasey Lobaugh, chief innovation officer; and David Wise, manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

For consumers, Cyber Monday marks the official start of the online holiday shopping season. Behind the scenes, however, store operators will have been in full swing for some time. One hotspot of activity is IT – the group that keeps the engines of e-commerce humming.

Typically, the runup to retail’s peak season begins weeks before the holidays. At that time, IT slows down and halts non-critical code changes to prevent any programming-related disruptions to retail systems. Meanwhile, additional computing capacity is being reserved and procured to handle the expected surge in traffic. War rooms are assembled to monitor production systems during the holiday period. Throughout, there’s a heightened sense of focus, visibility, responsiveness, and awareness.

But this “all hands on deck” situation comes at a cost. Application development and other projects typically move to the back burner until after the holiday season. Opportunities and competitor challenges go unmet. And all that extra capacity that’s not running on the cloud? It’s likely to sit idle once the season comes to an end.

Transforming the IT operating model

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. DevOps is a method by which software development engineers and other IT professionals work collaboratively from design through development to production support. The idea is to improve efficiency and quality by giving IT teams development and operational accountability for their software solutions and enabling end-to-end automation of the entire application lifecycle.

Cloud computing can provide infrastructure on demand and at scale and allow for further automation of traditionally manual IT tasks. In a retail setting, this means (among other things) that the IT team avoids purchasing assets just to support the peak sales period. Instead, they provision environments or add computing capacity as necessary in an automated manner from a cloud provider.

Cloud combined with DevOps can resolve holiday demand challenges from a couple of standpoints. Technically, IT teams can scale up or down automatically as needed to accommodate demand, paying only for the capacity they use without requiring additional people to manage this capacity. Continuous integration and delivery practices can lead to increased speed, quality, and stability with code releases into production. That in turn can result in more predictable outcomes and eliminate the need for code freeze windows.

Reaping the benefits

However, making holiday cyber peaks more manageable is just one of the ways DevOps and cloud can pay off. Another is more effectively managing, if not reducing, costs – both the operating costs of maintaining hardware in data centers as well as the opportunity cost of keeping top performers on high alert for potential production issues, instead of conducting business as usual.

And then there’s dispensing with the seasonal code freeze. With cloud and DevOps capabilities, retailers can continue to launch new products and promotions with minimal concern about system constraints. IT teams can introduce new features and functionality at the same cadence as they do during other times of the year.

With the right mindset, a shift in behavior, and the tools to eliminate error-prone manual processes, IT teams can carry out their work at holiday levels of preparedness. Put another way: in retail, IT business-as-usual can mean Cyber Everyday all year long.

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