Critical Thinking Questions
- Intel has been a technology leader for decades. Why do you think it took the company so long to make major changes in the past? Why you think it has taken them so long to make the move to an Agile development method for faster processes.
- Intel uses a combination of DevOps, C3, and PaaS for development. Do you think PaaS is necessary for DevOps to be successful? Why do you think Intel is using PaaS along with DevOps in the Agile development process? What advantage, or disadvantage, do you think PaaS could have for Intel in the future?
- What would be some of the criteria you would use to measure the success of a shift to DevOps practices within a company?
Intel Uses Agile and DevOps to Transform Its Business Operations
AACSB Standards: Global
To be a leader in technology, you have to be able to adapt to change, and in today’s world, change comes quickly. Intel, one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies, has a supply chain that includes 19,000 suppliers, 2,000 customers, and facilities in 63 countries. Each year, the company fulfills over a million orders and ships over a billion units. To sustain this level of business and adapt to a constantly changing market, Intel brought machine learning into its operations by utilizing DevOps and Agile practices.
According to Aziz Safa, Intel’s chief data officer, “Twenty years ago, we would not make a major change in the enterprise for years. Whereas today you are seeing new offerings come very fast.” According to Safa, developing that agility in Intel’s operations required a shift in thinking across the company.
Starting in 2017, Intel jump-started that shift by training 4,700 employees on the Agile methodology. After seeing success with the Agile approach, the company trained another 3,000 employees. According to the company’s 2018–2019 IT performance report, Intel’s “new scaling framework has created a significant pull in the organization to fully commit to the Agile and DevOps transformation.” The goal is to have a 60 percent testing automation and a 50 percent reduction in time to delivery. To achieve this goal, the DevOps team identified the applications that interoperate and the areas that must operate efficiently to reduce the time to delivery. Using the Agile framework, they are working toward the goal of introducing new systems and applications that will utilize the automated testing process and increase the delivery time for its customers.
Now that the move to Agile and DevOps is underway at Intel, the focus is shifting to better utilizing the data from the systems to make applications operate more efficiently across different platforms. Intel is basing more of their success on cloud and automation platforms. DevOps has paved the way for what is being called the “Common Cloud Core” (C3) and the ability to use PaaS (discussed earlier in the chapter) to enhance the delivery of new systems and increase the scalability of the current systems. Traditionally, systems were designed to run for several years before updates were planned. Intel recognizes that it is “fundamental to any organization that wants to innovate based on technology: digital transformation and DevOps go hand in hand.” A business must be able to move quickly in the ever-changing technology world, and Intel is at the center of this market. Applications must move from the idea state to production in a consistent manner, versus the traditional method that would take months of planning and development. Feedback must be continuous from users to developers to allow for continuous improvements.
By combining DevOps, PaaS, and C3, Intel has automated many of its systems. This automation has allowed for more efficient processing and a cost savings for both company and customers. Intel has taken advantage of release planning, which allows developers to release smaller portions of the system on a more frequent basis. Utilizing the cloud infrastructure, there is no downtime, and end users can provide feedback on a manageable scale. DevOps allows for continuous testing as the development cycle is shorter, and the feedback is faster and on a targeted part of the system. With the tools available through PaaS, there is continuous monitoring of the system to keep applications running at optimum levels. These tools provide developers with performance data so they can improve on any areas that may be under-performing. Intel has been successful in implementing Agile and DevOps. What will be next for this technology giant?