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Lotus Formula 1 on track for DevOps adoption

Development working toward automated releases of its apps to speed up cars

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Lotus F1 is on its way to automating application releases to continually improve car speeds, the firm's deputy IT director has told ComputerworldUK.

Michael Taylor, deputy IT director at Lotus F1, said that the firm had implemented agile methodologies in 2012 but is hoping to adopt the increasingly popular business approach of DevOps. It currently uses a manual buffer to control application releases.

"In 2013 we did 200 releases and we're on target to exceed it. That's 200 releases of our 45-application portfolio. Some applications will have a release every single Grand Prix so that's why we're looking at DevOps to make it even more autonomous and hopefully improve the experience," he said.

Lotus' 45 applications are used on the track and for its factory operations. Trackside applications include GPS viewers, trackside race strategy systems and feeding race data in real time to engineers in the pitstop. Factory operation applications involve software for integrating the team's PLM (product lifecycle management), PDM (product data management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems with information like wind tunnel results, wind tunnel faults capture and aerodynamics.

After a race, the development team is issued enhancement requests to correct faults and are expected to identify the issue, written the code to fix it, or offer an alternative functionality, test and then release it across the systems so the engineers can make use of it. All within a regular two-week cycle.

"It's bloody challenging to be honest," Taylor said.

"It may be a tiny thing like a Gurney Flap on a rear wing (a tiny piece of carbon fibre that changes the downforce effect) or all the way up to a completely new front nose - an entire bodywork mechanical package. The aim is to bring new parts to every single race."

Following Lotus' mediocre results at Silverstone last weekend, development has issued a release for yesterday's tests at the racecourse and will have a similar update for the German Grand Prix this month.

Lotus has partnered with Avanade which helps with its Microsoft-based stack which underpins all of its IT. Twenty Avanade staff are dedicated entirely to the team and are supporting the team's migration onto Office 365 and will help with its ERP move onto the cloud planned for 2017.

"They are a ready-made resource, plus they have a wider reach into the Avanade community, so if there is something specific that a group of developers are working on, we can tap into that wider community for advice," said Taylor.


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