Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, recently announced that several of Red Hat’s open source technologies, including Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, as well as the knowledge of Red Hat Consulting, were chosen by SoftBank Corp (“SoftBank”), a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp., to implement DevOps methodology for its Service Platform Division, IT Service Development Division, Information Technology Unit, and Technology Unit, the company’s in-house IT organization. This large, varied organization develops, maintains and operates SoftBank’s IT systems for internal work and operations, supporting 600 diverse systems.
While new processes and tools are often met with some concern, our engagement with Red Hat Consulting helped us to put the methodology into practice with the steady backing and knowledge of a leader in the DevOps field.
DevOps entails using emerging technologies and updated IT processes to break down the procedural and technical barriers between development and IT operations teams. This can help lead to faster application deployment times and the ability to more readily address end user needs, both internally and externally. As more enterprises begin considering the adoption of digital technologies, DevOps can become an important inflection point.
As SoftBank’s business has grown to encompass a range of diverse offerings and divisions at a global level, the company developed its “Global IT Platform Strategy” concept, where its overarching systems based in Japan can be used by its overseas divisions. Aiming to deliver this unified platform by the end of 2018, SoftBank also sought to reduce its IT operating costs by half and double developer productivity, all goals that SoftBank believed would require a change in the company’s approach to IT.
The company felt that it had hit a production limit with the existing waterfall method of application development, especially when it came to rolling out new services at a global level more efficiently. To better meet its goal of delivering a global, standardized IT platform, SoftBank began exploring DevOps methodology, which could help SoftBank’s IT organization bring new services to bear faster without sacrificing overall application quality.
The project started with SoftBank attending a Red Hat DevOps Discovery Workshop, which helped the company’s IT organization gain a high-level overview of what a successful DevOps implementation could look like and how they could measure a project’s effectiveness. Engaging with Red Hat Consulting, SoftBank’s IT organization ran a pilot project using the plan laid out as part of the workshop. The project was a “Personal Account Management (PAM)” solution, a web application intended to manage an artificial intelligence (AI) solution for responding to customer inquiries at SoftBank stores.
SoftBank found the pilot project to be successful, with PAM code pushes increasing from once every two weeks to 118 times in two weeks, helping SoftBank to better address evolving customer needs and usage patterns with the service. Intra-organization communication also improved, providing a clearer visualization of project workflow which helped team members assess and engage with specific tasks before they became bottlenecks.
As part of the DevOps implementation, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform was also adopted by SoftBank as its in-house development platform. Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is the first and only hybrid cloud solution delivering enterprise-grade Kubernetes and Linux containers, based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform. SoftBank determined that OpenShift would play an important role in not only helping to smooth the introduction of DevOps organization-wide, but also providing a more stable foundation for future projects.
In the wake of the successful test project, SoftBank expanded the number of teams using DevOps from one to six and established an internal task force, ARK Agile Labo, to promote DevOps and agile development across the organization. Based on its early results, SoftBank reports that it currently plans to shift 50 percent of the systems developed and operated by the Platform Control Division to DevOps by the end of SoftBank’s FY2018.