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May 26, 2016

A Conversation with Chris Jackson, Director of Cloud Product Engineering at Pearson

DevOps Enterprise Summit London

The DevOps Enterprise Summit London is getting closer and we can’t wait to gather together with both U.S. and EMEA directors, managers, and executives looking to take the next step in modernizing their business through DevOps. We will get to share successes and failures, tips and tricks, and inspire one another through expert keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions.

Chris JacksonOur lineup of speakers includes Chris Jackson, Director of Cloud Product Engineering at Pearson. Chris leads a team of engineers through the challenges of today’s IT transformation at Pearson and answered a few questions about his job, his experiences, and the DevOps landscape.

DevOps Enterprise Summit: What part of your job is the most interesting to you and why?

Chris Jackson: Challenging the approach to technology in a company as old as Morse Code is not always easy, but helping to drive the transformation of our products and services from textbooks and publishing to a digital education platform for the whole world is a compelling reason for me to push forward and keeps me engaged each day.

DOES: What are the top 3 challenges enterprises face today and why?

CJ: Governance, Governance, Governance. Building a culture of innovation is incredibly important to addressing challenges like global scale, security and tighter integration of the business and technology units. What hinders those developments is typically the governance model a company implements. Showing the ROI and a waterfall delivery schedule on an idea that you don’t even know will definitely work means that the cost of experimentation is too high and many good and impactful ideas are lost before they show initial success.

DOES: What was your a-ha moment when it first hit you that “this DevOps thing really works!”?

CJ: That moment for me was when my team diffused a hostile meeting with a group of developers by turning around and asking, ‘What is it that is difficult about your job and how can we help?’ The body language and direction resulting from that meeting set us on a pathway that we’ve never looked back from.

DOES: What should the DevOps community be focused on in the coming year?

CJ: Scale. You can’t keep scaling Ops people aligned to Dev teams when the pressure is to make Ops teams smaller and more efficient. We need to be clear about what high-value human interaction is versus backlog for future automation. In a company of over 40,000 people and 400 developer teams, we need a way to scale DevOps so that we generate the intimacy and empathy from a cultural perspective without having to exponentially increase the physical Ops representation in developer teams.

DOES: Just for fun: Dead or alive, who would you like to eat dinner / drink / code / compare war stories with?

CJ: Bill Gates. I think the 1990s Microsoft is still one of the most exciting growth stories in technology. With the benefit of experience and hindsight, I’d like to know if he’d do anything differently and if he could take one current-day invention back to 1995 what would it be and why? I’d also want to learn how to survive the growth curve, moving from startup to established enterprise and how Microsoft learned to keep reinventing themselves.

Join Chris Jackson at DevOps Enterprise Summit London!

Want to spend two full days concentrating on solving your biggest IT challenges? The inaugural DevOps Enterprise Summit London event brings a community together from multiple industries and more than a dozen countries across the world. The purpose? To identify and amplify the best practices in DevOps based on practical advice presented through personal stories told by fellow technology leaders. If you haven’t registered yet for the event, it’s not too late (but tickets are going fast!). You can still sign up here!

DevOps Enterprise Summit London
June 30 & July 1, 2016
Hilton London Metropole
225 Edgware Road, London, UK

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Trusted by technology leaders worldwide. Since publishing The Phoenix Project in 2013, and launching DevOps Enterprise Summit in 2014, we’ve been assembling guidance from industry experts and top practitioners.

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