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June 6, 2019

What to Expect at DevOps Enterprise Summit London 2019

By Gene Kim
Gene's preview of DOES19 London

It’s that time of year where we’re only a few weeks away from DevOps Enterprise Summit London and I’m incredibly excited for our fourth event there.

As a programming committee, our goal is always to create the best programming ever — this creates a challenge, as we all thought the Las Vegas 2018 conference was the best conference yet!

The first big change for our London conference this year is that it is now a three-day conference— one day longer than in previous years. I’m particularly excited about this, because I’ve always thought that the shorter two-day format prevented so many great talks from being presented.

What I’ll cover in this post

I go through our top conference programming objectives, why we think each topic is important, and representative talks from each area.

Most of the speakers will be presenting their experience reports transforming some of the largest and most complex technology organizations on the planet, pioneering the business practices that will surely be commonplace within a decade. We’ve also invited experts from the domains that we’re drawing upon to help achieve our goals.

I hope you’ll join us in London, and that you’re as delighted by the program as we are!

If you haven’t registered yet, use the Friends of Gene code, “FOG15” at checkout for 15% off >>> Register

The programming committee has worked hard to create a high learning experience, combined with exciting networking opportunities, to establish an industry forum for exchanging insights and information we need to reach our desired outcomes.

In my career, I have grown to love conferences and have benefited so much from them.  And yet, this conference is still my favorite. I never learn as much in such a short period than at the DevOps Enterprise Summit.

To preview the event, watch videos of presentations.

Programming Objectives Elaborated

Our goal is to help technology leaders succeed in transforming their organizations— both by increasing the likelihood of their success and accelerating the rate of adoption of DevOps principles and practices by focusing on the following subject areas (I’ll talk more about each one below):

  • Spanning the Business and Technology Divide
  • Next Generation Operations and Infrastructure
  • Overcoming Old Ways of Working (e.g. Infosec, Compliance, ITIL, Project Management, Audit)
  • Dynamic Learning Organizations
  • Leadership Lessons, Transformational Leadership, Recognition, and Human Resources

We fulfill this goal through speaker presentations, both from technology leaders and/or subject matter experts from those domains. We also do this through less structured networking sessions where technology leaders can find other people who are tackling similar challenges.

Continued Experience Reports

One of the hallmarks of the DevOps Enterprise Summit is that it is primarily comprised of experience reports. I think this is important because as adult learners, and as leaders, we learn less from what experts tell us what to do than watching how other people in similar situations to solve their problems.

And something that I’m always excited by is having speakers present continuations of their experience reports. It’s great to know how these stories progress, much like how a documentary filmmaker can capture a story that spans more than one year.  Was the story told from previous years good for the organization and the leader? What new obstacles emerged, and how did they overcome them? Is this a path the rest of us want to go down?

Adidas: Senior Director of Platform Engineering Fernando Cornago is presenting with the business head of Adidas’ .COM Experience & Optimization, Benjamin Grimm. That’s a $1B line of business for Adidas, who will be presenting on how this was made possible by new internal platforms to help the company improve their revenue, reduce product lead time and enable experimentation and innovation.

RBS: Jenny Wood, Head of Performance and Business Management, will describe the path the company is taking to line up behind its customers and create organizational agility.

The Walt Disney Company: Director of Systems Engineering Jason Cox is taking the stage with Senior Project Manager Deepti Mutnuru to share the continuation of the DevOps journey at Disney. Jason and Deepti will also be presenting on the Disney Technology Leadership Rotation program, an amazing three-year program to create the next generation of technology leaders at Disney. and Walmart Labs: Scott Havens, Director of Engineering, will describe how his team used functional programming techniques to create a safer and more reliable inventory management system for the largest retailer in the world.

New Experience Reports

Besides enabling learning, experience reports serve another important goal— they help negate objections that “DevOps can’t be done here.” Over the past six years, we’ve assembled over 250 experience reports from some of the most recognized brands, across nearly every industry vertical. As a whole, it shows that DevOps principles and patterns are universal.

BMW – Our Journey To 100% Agile and a BizDevOps Product Portfolio: Vice President of IP Governance Christoph Brinck and Vice President of IT Delivery Ralf Waltram will be presenting on how BMW is transitioning from project management to product management, which in their words is the “largest change to how business is done at BMW in twenty years.”

Syngenta: Maks Kiamos Shah, Domain Head of Chemical Development and Product Life Cycle Management, is presenting how DevOps is helping the R&D IT organization move from maintaining hundreds of fragile IT products to providing adaptive IT platforms that can evolve at the speed of science to deliver an R&D pipeline. I’m extremely excited about this talk because it is our first experience report from the life sciences industry.

Auto Trader: Head of Infrastructure and Operations Russell Warman, and Dave Whyte, Operations Squad Lead, are co-presenting on how the company is currently in the middle of a journey migrating all of its apps and services from two dedicated data centers to the public cloud.

Spanning The Business and Technology Divide

One of the programming objectives that my fellow programming committee member Courtney Kissler is passionate about is assembling case studies that demonstrate the ideal working relationship between business and technology leadership. Last year at the London conference, we had joint business/technology experience reports from Verizon, Enterprise, and Capital One.

This year, we are focused on the CFO and Project Portfolio perspective.

RBS: As described above, Jenny Wood, Head of Performance and Business Management, will describe the path the company is taking to line up behind its customers and create organizational agility.

Compuware: My fireside chat with CEO Chris O’Malley in Las Vegas 2018 was one of the most talked about sessions at the conference. He shared some fantastic advice about how technology leaders should work with their business counterparts. This year in London, Mr. O’Malley is doing another fireside chat with his Chief Financial Officer, Joe Aho. My friend Mik Kersten and I had the opportunity to spend the day with Mr. O’Malley and Aho in Detroit. As the CFO, Mr. Aho was initially a skeptic of how DevOps could change their business — he will share why he didn’t think DevOps would work, as well as what changed his mind.

BMW: As mentioned above, Mr. Brinck and Waltram talk about how they are changing how technology is budgeted, planned, executed and reported upon, which in their words, is the “largest change to how business is done at BMW in twenty years.”

Next Generation Operations

I’ve written before about how this programming objective came from Jason Cox at Disney (one of our programming committee members), who said to me every year, “Great conference for Dev, but it wasn’t as great for Ops.”

In 2018, we finally did something about it — starting in London 2018, we reserved 25% of talks for next generation Ops and Infrastructure concerns, and created a separate subcommittee to focus on this area.

And wow, we were all very, very happy with the results — in fact, I think the elevation of this topic has fundamentally changed the feel of the conference (you can watch a full discussion about this track here).

In this track, we really make an effort to help define and clarify what exactly the role of Ops leader is, all the technology and organizational changes there have been in how infrastructure is designed, delivered and operated.

Adidas Digital Platform: Where Cloud Native Meets the Sporting Goods Industry: As mentioned above, Mr. Cornago and Mr. Grimm will be presenting on how new internal platforms at Adidas helps the company improve their revenue stream, reduce product lead time and enable experimentation and innovation.

ITV’s Common Platform v2: Better, Faster, Cheaper, Happier: In 2015 ITV thought they’d built the last hosting platform they’d ever need. In 2019 they’re replacing half of it! In this retrospective, Tom Clark shares what ITV has learned from v1 and what steps they’re taking so that v2 really will be the last hosting platform they’ll ever need.

Exemplars, Laggards, and Hoarders: A Data-driven Look at Open Source Software Supply Chains: In a year long collaboration with Dr. Stephen Magill, we objectively examined and empirically documented software release patterns and cybersecurity hygiene practices across 54,000 commercial development teams and open source projects. In this session, we present evidence on the outcomes of that research, highlighting organizational and technology practices that enable exemplar open source teams to deliver 50% more commits, release new code 2.4x faster, and remediate security vulnerabilities 2.9x faster, all while delivering a level of value that makes them standouts in terms of popularity and adoption.

Fight, Flight, or Freeze—Releasing Organizational Trauma: In this talk, Matty Stratton from PagerDuty explains the background of fight, flight, and freeze, and how it applies to organizations. Mr. Stratton will give examples and suggestions on how to identify your own organizational trauma and how to help heal it.

Infrastructure as Code (Yes, it applies to z/OS as well): Infrastructure as code, and dynamic provisioning of environments is not new, but has not been applied to most mainframe environments. This session, led by Rosalind Radcliffe from IBM will show how z/OS has transformed and how open source tools can be used to provide infrastructure as code for z/OS as well.

Infrastructure Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of APIs: As Duncan Lawie from Credit Suisse puts it, “Here in Infrastructure, we think of ourselves as the Operators for DevOps. But our Application Development colleagues seem to think of us as an impediment.” So, how can a Bank maintain governance, separation of concerns and stability when “they” want us to “hand over the keys”? Join Mr. Lawie for his talk and find out!

Succeeding with Cloud in the Enterprise: Cloud is in many ways a paradigm shift, and if we do not change the way we work, we will not get the full value out of a move to the Public Cloud. Join Rasmus Hald from Maersk as dives deeper into the cloud paradigm shift happening in IT.

Building Continuous Integration and Feedback: In this talk from Chris McFee, learn how the Continuous Delivery and Feedback organization at KeyBank built their teams and delivery pipelines to focus on providing continuous feedback for our development community.

When Is SRE Right For You? In this talk, Stephen Thorne from Google Site Reliability Engineering presents a framework for deciding which of your applications will have the most fertile ground for developing an effective SRE engagement.

Functional Programming for (Dev)Operations and Infrastructure: Functional programming had mostly been relegated to academic endeavors until recently. What’s changed is that our apps are now distributed systems and are simply too complex for us to reason about without help. Programming intent and ceding some of the control to an interpreter takes makes creating solutions to very hard problems doable. We’ve seen an increase in the uptake of functional programming for application development using languages such as Kotlin and Clojure, and now we are seeing some key tenets of functional programming seeping into operations. Through a series of demonstrations, Cornelia Davis from Pivotal draws some parallels between functional programming and tools that are increasingly used on the operations side of the house.

Overcoming Old Ways Of Working

This programming objective focuses on how technology leaders can co-exist and improve “old ways of working” — these are often the most powerful and entrenched orthodoxies in enterprises, such as information security and compliance, project management offices, and ITIL.

This has always been an exciting area for me because it requires spanning boundaries, building bridges and creating mutual respectful and beneficial relationships.

Yosef Levine and John Waters on Auditing DevOps: Yosef Levine is the Managing Director, Global Technology Controls, Confidentiality & Privacy from Deloitte, and his colleague John Waters is the Associate Director for Global Audit Cloud Architecture. As senior leaders in the Deloitte Assurance practice, they will be co-presenting on DevOps from an auditor’s perspective. Yosef and John will share how they use DevOps for the internal services that support the assurance professionals, and how this was made necessary by the same business transformation forces that are affecting all organizations these days.

They are also hosting a one-hour workshop at the conference, led by Dr. Topo Pal from Capital One, called “What you always wanted to ask an auditor but were afraid to ask.” This is truly a unique opportunity to bring your questions and challenges and hear from the auditors themselves!

Dr. Mik Kersten: Based on his work with Fortune 100 enterprises, Dr. Mik Kersten presents a new concept, the Flow Framework™, which unravels the enigma of enterprise software delivery, providing an approach that helps organizations better understand the human and system dynamic that underpins their IT infrastructure.

Ross Clanton: Ross will provide real world examples of the challenges impacting large-scale DevOps transformations and advice on how to overcome them. This is based on his first hand experience leading transformations in two Fortune 50 companies and collaborating with other F500 companies. (ie DevOps confessionals).

Subject Matter Expert Talks

I have no doubt that technology leaders are, for the most part, self-teaching ourselves what we think we need to learn to be successful. In the past, we’ve brought experts such as Dr. Sidney Dekker and Dr. Richard Cook (safety culture) to deliver talks about the domains we want to learn more about to help us reach our desired outcomes.

Comcast: Nithya Ruff is the Head of Comcast’s Open Source Practice. The company serves millions of customers with numerous services across broadband, streaming media, smart home technologies and content. The scale and complexity of Comcast with 1000s of engineers as well as its history could make it difficult to roll out new cultural changes and technologies. Yet, the company embarked on the journey to become a technology company with leading-edge software development practices like open source, devops and security practices. Nithya will share their journey into becoming an open source contributor and leader and some of the key elements that helped with this transformation.

Dr. Christina Maslach: Burnout is a major topic in today’s workplace, given its high costs for both employees and organizations. Empirical findings show that burnout is largely a function of the social environment in which people work. Dr. Maslach will be talking about her lifetime of research she’s done on employee engagement and burnout in professions such as healthcare. She presented in Vegas, 2018, where she memorably said, “our approach is to try to create more resilient canaries, instead of trying to figure out what is wrong in the coal mine.”

Dr. Maslach also joins Dr. Nicole Forsgren and Dr. Steve Spear on a Workplace Engagement panel. We are honored that we’ve assembled these experts to explore the convergence of several academic research areas, specifically workplace burnout and engagement, creation of dynamic, learning organizations, integration with existing performance management programs, and how it can create high-performing technology organizations.

Dr. Steve Spear: Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System.” This was based on his Ph.D. dissertation, where he worked on the assembly line of a Tier 1 Toyota Supplies for 6 months. In this talk, he teaches us about the study of dynamic learning organizations, including working on engine design at Pratt & Whitney, the safety culture at Alcoa, safety in healthcare organizations and more. It will be an amazing talk!

Jon Smart: In this talk, Jon shares the anti-patterns and success patterns in adopting better ways of working, sharing lessons learnt the hard way, previously leading Ways of Working across a large, old, traditional, organization (80,000 people, 40 countries, 329 years old) and now working with many horses, not unicorns, on this topic.

Networking Opportunities, Lean Coffee, Lightning Talks and More!

In addition to expert subject matter talks and experiencing the unfolding documentary of the ongoing IT transformations that leaders are helping drive in large, complex organizations, the program also includes different ways to “get together and go faster.”

I’ve said this before, but it is so important for the organizers of the DevOps Enterprise Summit to help attendees achieve better outcomes.

Together with my friend and IT Revolution advisor, Jeff Gallimore, we are establishing different ways for people to learn, ask and answer as many questions as possible. Because the quality of the audience is one aspect that we think separates the DevOps Enterprise Summit from others, the more spontaneous conversations and interactions we can nurture onsite, the better for everyone.

  • DevOps Confessions: At the beginning of each day, programming committee members will read anonymized stories of confessions from leaders in the DevOps community to learn about the struggles, failures, and near-misses. These are some of the best anecdotes you may ever hear!
  • Speakers Corner: We created a dedicated time and a location to ask the plenary speakers questions that go deeper on the information presented earlier that day.
  • Lean Coffee: Led by Dominica DeGrandis, author of Making Work Visible and the foremost expert in Kanban Flow within the IT industry today, attendees can connect with and learn from their peers in a semi-structured format all three days of the conference.
  • Birds of a Feather Sessions: This is more like the DevOpsDays unconference sessions, with less structure than a Lean Coffee format, and these sessions are driven by specific topics that attendees want to discuss and learn about. I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions of these sessions in Las Vegas last year.
  • Lightning Talks: These are rapid-fire, must-see presentations that happen from the main stage after the conference day has concluded. Also, as a bonus, the IT Revolution authors‘ book signing happens immediately afterward.
  • Industry Party: In addition to sponsor giveaways, great food and drinks, this is when I’ll have the book signing of my newest title, The Unicorn Project. The industry party is one of my favorite times during the conference to continue conversations with my fellow attendees and speakers.
  • Slack Workspace: The conference will have a shared Slack workspace for people to interact with speakers, attendees, and sponsors. In the past, this is where people have connected to make plans, search/recruit for job opportunities and more.

As you can see, there’s a lot that is getting me excited for the conference this year, and I hope to see you there!

Again, if you haven’t registered yet, use the Friends of Gene code, “FOG15” at checkout for 15% off >>> Register

To preview the DevOps Enterprise Summit London 2019 event and learn more about the conference, please watch videos of presentations.

Thanks everyone,

- About The Authors
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Gene Kim

Award winning CTO, researcher, and author.

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