DevOps Enterprise Summit London 2017 (DOES17) speakers recently shared challenges and advice they have faced along their DevOps journeys. While proven tools and best practices are well-known, most every enterprise leader facing a technology transformation journey will agree that there is plenty of room for learning and growth.
The beautiful thing about the DevOps Enterprise Summit is the feeling of community and collaboration as we gather together—representing organizations from industries across the board—to share, discover and improve our paths to DevOps success. Many of our upcoming DOES17 London speakers have broken through barriers and walked away with important lessons learned or have leveraged DevOps patterns that broke down silos, sped up software delivery and quality, and ultimately started transforming the entire organization.
The strongest theme that emerged among the speakers who shared their biggest DevOps lessons learned, is that change takes time.
Jonathan Fletcher, chief technology officer at Hiscox, emphasizes the importance of starting small and growing success.“Don’t under estimate the time, effort and skill it takes to influence such a wide body of individuals. DevOps is a holistic view across all of IT and the business—that’s a big undertaking.”
Rob England, The IT Skeptic, adds that it’s important to have patience on a DevOps journey. He has discovered that it takes years to bring everyone along and change the corporate culture. Jose Quaresma, DevOps lead at Accenture, and Christoph Schär, head of digital development at Swisscom, also note the sheer amount of effort and time required for sparking cultural change that leads to DevOps transformation successes.
Drawing from his experience, Dr. Steve Mayner, SAFe senior program consultant trainer at Scaled Agile, adds, “start with the mindset shift first. Beginning with the technical practices like continuous delivery without addressing the organizational and cultural barriers to true DevOps will make the transformation exponentially more difficult.”
While change is a challenge in itself, Nigel Kersten, chief technical strategist at Puppet, says he learned the importance of maintaining empathy towards those who fear change. Olivier Jacques, IT distinguished technologist at DXC Technology, recommends, “speaking the language of where we are coming from (ITIL), so it is easier for teams to draw a mental picture of how their world is changing.” Schär adds, “it’s strongly required and well worth it to invest time for providing and communicating a promising purpose to the people and to go ahead stepwise so that all the change can be digested properly.”
Along with cultural transformation, our speakers have learned to focus on people. Amine Boudali, senior project manager at Nordea, emphasizes the importance of people in DevOps, adding, “it is after all a change management activity where tooling is an enabler and not a goal.”
“Empowered people blossom,” England adds. “Let them know it is ok to experiment, to fail, to take initiative, to lead. Many people are ‘victims of the system’ — they behave the way they do because of the unreasonable position they are put in. Change the system, change the mood.”
From a hiring standpoint, David Rogers, head of architecture and security at Ministry of Justice, recommends hiring people with a broad range of skills, not just for technical excellence. He adds, “make sure whomever is in charge of operations is not only good at operations, but also the strategy for operations.”
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As speakers focused on the importance of people, they revealed lessons around communication and trust as well. Alexa Alley, program manager at Hearst Business Media, recommends that each person be open to communication with all members in the company. “Without two-way trust and communication, the transformation will stall out and ultimately fail.”
Jonathan Smart, head of development services at Barclays, adds that both a Top Down and Bottom Up approach is needed, as the two need to be connected. “The absence of one will jeopardise progress,” he warns. For more reading on this, skip over here.
From a process standpoint, Kersten learned to work in small batches and focuses on the importance of visibility. Jens Wilhelms, head of development foundation at Swisscom, adds that it is important to have a clear case for action and to state why it is worth doing the DevOps transformation.
These lessons might come in handy for those just starting a DevOps journey or for those in the midst of organizational transformation who are facing similar challenges. To drive the big changes that come along with DevOps, our speakers have leveraged a wide variety of patterns. They shared their favorites that have led to success.
Mayner, an expert on transformational leadership says, “the best patterns I have seen have been with transformational leaders who create a positive environment for change (clear vision, exemplifying the mindset shift, creating the opportunities for team members to grow, innovate, and drive the change). These leaders create a transparent and open dialogue about both the cultural shifts as well as technical practices that will be needed to embrace DevOps, and provide the learning space for people to make the transition.”
Sathiya Shunmugasundaram, enterprise architect at Capital One, along with Quaresma highlight the power of automation and identified it as their favorite pattern. Quaresma adds that having builds, deployments, testing and environment provisioning automated enables faster, more reliable changes.
Another common theme among favorite patterns was feedback. Boudali’s favorite pattern is creating feedback loops between Ops and Dev. Smart, also identifies fast feedback as his pattern of choice. He adds, “in a DevOps context, increasing the communication between Dev and IT Ops or moving closer to ‘you build it, you run it’ within control guardrails.”
Schär echoes these sentiments. “Bringing Dev and Ops engineers together into one team with one mission and a joint responsibility as DevOps engineers.” Wilhelms, also looking at teams, adds that cross-functional work among all biz, dev, ops, and other partners is a way to make significant improvements to value creation.
“Having an interdisciplinary team working towards the same goals makes significant difference compared to working in silos with each having their own interpretation of goals,” he concludes.
Fletcher adds to the team concept, “having an evangelist/training team that empowers others with DevOps-centric skills and tooling,” is a pattern that has led to success.
Rosalind Radcliffe, distinguished engineer, chief architect for DevOps for enterprise systems at IBM, believes that the best pattern is to include all parts of the organization. She goes on to explain, “those organizations that include all types of development and operations have the greatest return for their transformation.”
Some of the more unique standout patterns included Dr. Tuuli Bell, partner account manager at Tasktop, who identifies continuous improvement as her favorite pattern. Rogers’ favorite pattern is to make everything a service, and make sure all the services have a clear owner
Jacques discusses the value of communication and transparency, adding ChatOps to the list of favorite patterns. He shares his personal experience with ChatOps, “witnessing how work was getting done, we saw that chat was the most used form of communication. Evolving to ChatOps and throwing robots and the continuous delivery pipeline in the middle of the conversations enabled Dev and Ops and the pipeline to collaborate very efficiently, without the need of a re-org, which is always hard on people.”
Register for the DevOps Enterprise Summit London with code “DEEPDIVE20” at checkout for 20% off! Hurry though – this deal ends May 3, 2017 so don’t delay: bit.ly/DOES17LDNReg
The speakers certainly offer a diverse set of patterns that have helped them achieve success through a DevOps journey. We are looking forward to their upcoming sessions at DOES17 London to dig into these lessons learned and learn the approach to the patterns that have guided their paths.
Interested in speaking at DevOps Enterprise Summit in the future? You can now apply to become a speaker at the DevOps Enterprise Summit San Francisco, November 13 – 15, 2017. The call for papers is officially open and you can submit here. If you are eager to share your transformation story, read this blog from Gene Kim on how to get accepted.