Two days into a breakneck schedule of energizing presentations at DevOps Enterprise Summit 2015 (DOES 2015) and there are already some common themes bubbling up from the speakers and attendees. As IT practitioners from big name enterprises like Capital One, HP, Target, Ticketmaster and more step up to the podium to share their personal stories about the journey to continuous delivery, they’ve proven that their transformations rely on similar success factors.
Success Factor: DevOps Champions
DevOps change agents and champions are the engine that can help turn an enterprise IT ship around. And while it will eventually take a lot of people to power a large organization’s shift to DevOps, the passion and vision of a single DevOps change agent is contagious—particularly when they can demonstrate and document the results of new process patterns.
“One person can make a difference,” says Sherry Chang, chief architect of DevOps and continuous delivery with Intel, who says when she first started helping her firm in its transformation, she had no formal DevOps title or role, but she believed strongly that changes needed to be made and was determined to drive them. She says she connected with others to start small and spread the DevOps gospel.
Success Factor: The Yin/Yang of Grassroots/Executive Support
Building DevOps momentum can’t depend solely on support from the bottom up or the top down. Those experienced in walking the DevOps path say that buy-in must come from both sides of the coin to truly transform the business.
Most transformations tend to start at the grassroots level—that’s what those champions are especially good for kick starting—because risk-averse executives tend to like to grab onto new initiatives that already look like potential winners.
“Those change agents are important in the early days because they can demonstrate success, which then helps to start growing a grassroots movement, where more and more passionate folks start to get bought into the different changes that are being talked about, and then that got us to gain our tops-down buy-in,” says Heather Mickman, director at Target.
Success Factor: Internal DevOps Events
Many of the biggest enterprises that shared their stories explained that a key component of the culture shift at their organization has been some sort of large-scale internal event—essentially in-house DevOps conferences. These events give DevOps champions the chance to bring in outside thought leaders and practitioners at other companies to demonstrate to people within the host enterprise that there really is something to DevOps, automation, continuous delivery and the like. For example, CapitalOne recently hosted more than 1,200 software engineers for an in-house event it calls SECon and brought in many of the same speakers we’re seeing this week at DOES.
Target has also hosted numerous internal DevOps days, as well as an executive summit that Ross Clanton, senior group manager at Target, called a “tipping point” for gaining top down support from executives.
Success Factor: Empowerment
Giving staff the tools the need to do their job and then getting out of the way to actually let them do it has been another common theme weaving its way through DOES talks.
“Teams crave responsibility,” says Jody Mulkey, CTO at Ticketmaster. “Folks on our development teams, they all want responsibility to run their products. They didn’t all want it in the beginning, to be quite honest. But once they saw how quickly teams were able to deliver and how they were able to minimize these business disruptions based on the ability to quickly make changes to their software, it was pretty incredible.”
He says of the 73 development teams at Ticketmaster in North America, 100 percent push their own code.
Success Factor: Test Automation
Time and time again, presenters have called out the importance of test automation in eliminating waste and idle time in the development lifecycle and elevating the process. On Monday, there was a whole panel dedicated to the topic with representatives from Intel, Quicken Loans and Bluware talking about how to scale this across the enterprise. And as Paul Schmid explained in his description of the DevOps transformation at Sherwin-Williams, like many organizations, his has been learning the hard way that test automation ideally should be one of the first steps to shifting gears to continuous delivery.
“Tests for us are really important, and we are not mature in this at all. So a lot of what was talked about this morning hit right at home,” he says. “Testing is really important and it’s definitely the next step for us, and we’re putting a lot of time, effort, and money into it.”