Xerox Improves Developer Efficiency by 40 percent, Reduces Costs with DevOps

If your developers are in India, your IT operations team is in the United States, and your customers are all over the world, you have a big coordination challenge. The Xerox India Development Center (IDC) faced a thicket of technical and business challenges related to running a global business but solved them all by using Microsoft development and data center software.

Xerox is one of the biggest business-process outsourcing companies in the world. Xerox IDC is one of several Xerox software development organizations that compete not only against hundreds of outsourcing providers around the world but against sister development groups within Xerox. IDC has to be faster, cheaper, better, and more responsive to win business.

But faster and better was not always what IDC was able to deliver. The group’s 450 developers had no visibility into the Xerox production systems that they developed and supported; these sat in US data centers. Consequently, IDC developers often spent hours or days searching for code bugs. This gave them a bad reputation with the IT operations teams that ran those data centers and with customers who wanted their solutions finished sooner rather than later.

IDC’s first step, taken in August 2011, was to upgrade its development tools—to the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate development system and Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010. With this solution, IDC teams could suddenly store project information in a unified repository and manage database development more efficiently. IDC trimmed costs by 30 percent by retiring older development tools and increased developer productivity by 40 percent.

But there was still a communication gap between IDC developers and customers. In early 2012, Xerox upgraded its tools again, to Microsoft Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012. These programs provided an easier way to access and manage all work items from within Team Foundation Server.

Xerox took another big step when it upgraded to the Windows Server 2012 Datacenter operating system and Microsoft System Center 2012 and created a private cloud environment at IDC. The private cloud gave IDC developers an easy way to quickly create development and test servers when needed, and the Hyper-V Replica feature in Windows Server 2012 let IDC replicate the US-based production workload to its data center for faster testing and problem solving.

Things got even better when Microsoft released System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which included the ability to integrate the Operations Manager component of System Center 2012 with Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio. This DevOps linkage between System Center and Team Foundation Server enables deep troubleshooting and provides greater efficiency between development and IT operations teams.

IDC uses System Center 2012 to create a virtual machine, replicate the latest build of an application, and preview it under a heavy user load in a test environment. Developers can debug applications by collecting IntelliTrace snapshots directly from Operations Manager and have them automatically attached to Team Foundation Server work items. They also have real-time visibility into the health of the Team Foundation Server development environment from within Operations Manager.

By adopting the latest Microsoft development and data center infrastructure software, Xerox IDC greatly improved its developer staff efficiency and software quality. The group’s reputation and viability within Xerox was at stake, and today IDC shines as a model development organization within the company.

Xerox is also saving money by enabling developers to be more productive and flexible. The ability for developers to come up to speed quickly on new projects, and to work on multiple projects simultaneously, is critical in the fast-moving outsourcing business. “Microsoft is my cloud platform vendor of choice because it provides the complete, integrated stack of infrastructure, application platform, and development tools,” says Raman Padmanabhan, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Commercial Business Process Outsourcing at Xerox Commercial Solutions. “We want our developers to be able to work across multiple development projects and sites with ease. They now have the tools and infrastructure they need to accelerate the ever-shrinking write-test-debug cycle.”

IDC has also lowered its attrition rate by giving developers modern development tools that let them get their work done during regular business hours. Employee attrition dropped from 29 percent to less than 10 percent in two years, primarily due to the fact that developers are no longer working nights and weekends to chase down elusive code problems.

The investment that Xerox IDC made in software has yielded huge returns in new business, a better reputation, lower costs, and happier employees. For more information, see the video below:

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