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August 26, 2016

Live Video Chat #1 with DevOps Enterprise 2016 Speakers

DevOps Enterprise Summit San Francisco 2016

The annual DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES), now in its third year, will take place this November 7-9 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Each year, the conference aims to identify and amplify the best practices enterprise business and technology leaders need for driving successful IT transformations. We’re excited to offer a variety of experience reports from large, complex enterprises across numerous verticals, including financial services, retail, hospitality, telecom, government, aerospace and more.

#DOES16 is shaping up to be the best and biggest to date. Why? Not only are we expecting more attendees (the show has sold out the past two years, while doubling in size – don’t worry, there’s still time to buy tickets), but we also get to hear where previous IT transformation stories are now (e.g. Target and Disney) and hear from new speakers representing entirely new verticals (e.g. American Airlines and Equifax).

DOES Video Chat

Leading up to the show, we are hosting a series of online video chats with our founding partner Electric Cloud, in order to pick the brains of the speakers and industry experts to glean DevOps insights and learn more about what audiences can expect to hear this November.

The DOES16 participants for our first video chat include: Damon Edwards, co-founder and managing partner of DTO Solutions; Heather Mickman, Senior Director for the Platform Engineering Team at Target; Pauly Comtois, VP of DevOps for Hearst Business Media; Michael Nygard, VP of Customer Solutions at Cognitect, Inc.; and Anders Wallgren, CTO of Electric Cloud. Ahead of the first video chat – taking place online Wednesday, September 7 from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm PT – we asked the participants a few questions to whet our appetites.

We begin with a standard question about the definition of the term DevOps. And to start us off, consider this quotation from The DevOps Handbook, IT Revolution’s new book by Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois, and John Willis:

DevOps is the outcome of applying the most trusted principles from the domain of physical manufacturing and leadership to the IT value stream.

Here’s what some of the participants shared:

Q: In one sentence, how do you define DevOps?

Edwards: “If somebody asks for a formal definition, I usually go with Adam Jacob: ‘DevOps is cultural and professional movement, focused on how we build and operate high velocity organizations, born from the experiences of its practitioners.’”

Comtois: “A culture of bringing teams and people closer together by encouraging the core behaviors that make us more human.”

Nygard: “Culture of shared responsibility, learning, and improvement that extends into production.”


Q: What challenges remain as part of implementing DevOps in your organization? How are you addressing them?

Edwards: “Getting past the pockets of greenfield success and affecting an organization wide transformation. It’s a challenge we see in many, if not most, enterprises.

This is a story we hear a lot: ‘Look at how much improvement our 50 person mobile team made applying DevOps techniques to their next generation applications running in AWS. But what about the other 5000 employees and contractors across our IT organization working on interconnected technology and process accumulated over the past 30 years?’

How do you address this? The best playbook I know is porting Lean techniques to IT. There is a wealth of knowledge and hard fought experience in the Lean community. In fact, if you look at the enterprises with early DevOps transformation success, it is those who have adopted a Lean mindset (whether or not they call it that) from senior management on down.”

Comtois: “Bringing the periphery to the center of the change and making it about everyone.”

Nygard: “I’m in a consulting services company. We see clients struggling with DevOps when they create a new, separate “DevOps team” that somehow sits between dev and ops. Totally misses the point… instead of thinning the boundary between dev and ops, they’ve now created two boundaries.”


Q: If DevOps was an Olympic event, which event would it be and why?

Edwards: “’Event’ is the wrong metaphor. DevOps is more like a strategy for a country’s whole Olympic program. There might be common team-level training or coaching techniques ported to each sport. However, it is the mission, structure, talent development, funding and oversight at the country’s organization wide level that really matters. Sure the US has lots of raw talent, but, there is statistically far more raw talent outside of the US. What does the US have? Superior systems (and systems inside of systems inside of systems) that develops talent from raw potential all the way to a landslide of medals. Or at least that is how I see it.”

Comtois: “Relay racing. Everyone must do their own part (accountability), however there must be a high degree of trust and faith in each other. The handoffs must be aligned, smooth and muscle memory.”

Nygard: “A marathon-length relay race.”


More Background on the Featured Panelists:

Anders Wallgren

Anders Wallgren is Chief Technology Officer of Electric Cloud. Anders brings with him over 25 years of in-depth experience designing and building commercial software. Prior to joining Electric Cloud, Anders held executive positions at Aceva, Archistra, and Impresse. Anders also held management positions at Macromedia (MACR), Common Ground Software and Verity (VRTY), where he played critical technical leadership roles in delivering award winning technologies such as Macromedia’s Director 7 and various Shockwave products.

@anders_wallgren |

Damon Edwards

Damon Edwards is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of DTO Solutions where he focuses on business and technology alignment and applying Lean and Agile principles to improving operational processes. Damon has spent over 14 years working with both the technology and business ends of IT operations and is noted for being a leader in porting cutting-edge DevOps techniques to large enterprise organizations. Damon is also a frequent conference speaker and writer who focuses on DevOps and operations improvement topics. Damon is active in the international DevOps community, including co-organizing the DevOps Days conference series and co-hosting the DevOps Cafe podcast.

@damonedwards |


Heather Mickman

Heather Mickman is the senior director for the Platform Engineering team at Target and a DevOps enthusiast. Throughout her career, Heather has continuously embraced hard technology challenges from consulting large Fortune 50 companies on Supply Chain approach, implementing warehouse automation technologies, running large Ops & Support organizations, and establishing enterprise security approaches. She has a passion for technology, building high performing teams, driving a culture of innovation, and having fun along the way. Heather lives in Minneapolis with her two sons and two dachshunds.

@hmmickman |


Pauly Comtois

Pauly Comtois is VP of DevOps for Hearst Business Media. This role provides full time consulting to ten business units within Hearst focusing on continuous improvement and community building through culture, process and tools. Pauly has over 20 years’ experience in building, developing and leading high performing IT, Support, Operations and Development teams in rapidly growing organizations. Pauly is a seasoned leader of cultural change efforts in unifying Development and Operations through training and mentorship in Agile, Lean, DevOps, Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment.

@paulycomtois |


Michael Nygard

Michael Nygard is the VP of Customer Solutions at Cognitect Inc. Michael strives to raise the bar and ease the pain for developers around the world. He shares his passion and energy for improvement with everyone he meets, sometimes even with their permission. Living with systems in production taught Michael about the importance of operations and writing production-ready software. Highly-available, highly-scalable commerce systems are his forte. Michael has written and co-authored several books, including “97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know” and the best seller “Release It!”, a book about building software that survives the real world.

@mtnygard |


Gene Kim

Gene Kim is a multiple award winning CTO, researcher and author. He was founder and CTO of Tripwire, which commercialized the open source software he wrote in 1992 with Dr. Gene Spafford at Purdue University. He is the author of “The Visible Ops Handbook,” and “The Security Visible Ops Handbook,” which has sold over 200K copies to date. Gene is also the author of “The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win.”

Gene’s area of passion is helping companies build super-tribes where Development, IT Operations, Product and Project Management and Information Security simultaneously maximize throughput of features from “code complete” to “in production,” without causing chaos and disruption to the IT environment. He’s helped some of the largest Internet properties, such as Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL and Microsoft companies he’s worked with Microsoft. He loves finding and fixing bottlenecks which impede and frustrate the entire organization, enabling management from each tribe to achieve the greater organizational goals.

@RealGeneKim |


Add the event to your calendar.

Can’t make it to this session? Join us for a second video chat with a new set of speakers – Topo Pal from Capital One, Carmen DeArdo from Nationwide, John Willis from Docker and Mark Imbriaco formerly of GitHub, Heroku and 37signals – on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm PT.

- About The Authors

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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