I recently had a chance to catch up with Hayden Lindsey, distinguished engineer and VP of Enterprise Systems and DevOps at IBM. I have spoken with Hayden several times as well as seeing him present at various conferences. Hayden truly understands how DevOps and related practices are changing the game for Enterprise Systems. Hayden and I caught up on Cognitive DevOps, as well as new developments in the enterprise systems.
His leadership of the Enterprise Systems team at IBM has really seen them make tremendous progress in keeping “big iron” relevant and up to date with the latest technologies. This includes acquisitions of new technologies which Hayden speaks to me about that are bringing next generation DevOps to market.
Have a listen to our conversation and if you like follow along with the transcript below.
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone. Alan Shimel, DevOps.com, here for another DevOps Chat. This DevOps Chat we’re very happy to be joined by an old friend of DevOps.com, Hayden Lindsey, VP and distinguished engineer for DevOps and enterprise systems at IBM. Hayden, welcome.
Hayden Lindsey: Thanks a lot, Alan. Good to talk with you again.
Alan Shimel: Always a pleasure, Hayden. Hayden, we’ll get right down to it. Lots going on in the world of DevOps, but also lots going on over at enterprise systems in IBM, so let’s jump in. First of all, Hayden, you know – I know, I don’t know if our audience knows, but they will now, you are relatively hands on in going out there and speaking to real live people and hearing what their challenges are in, you know, everything, not just DevOps, but this whole kind of digital reinvention, digital transformation that companies are undergoing. In a bigger picture, how is DevOps helping them with that, and then specifically, how are you and your team at IBM helping them with this?
Hayden Lindsey: Yeah, so I do very much enjoy getting out from the lab. I mean, I like visiting the lab, love visiting the lab _____, but like getting out, meeting with clients. And so I do a good bit of travel around the world, meeting with them, either individually or at conferences, such as Edge, that we had in Vegas last week. And in general, I’m talking to them about how to modernize or transform, and of course, a lot of focus these days is on digital transformation. You know, just like some years ago, everything was about service orientation and so and all that.
Now, I think intellectually, most clients understand that they need to modernize, and of course, the ones I’m talking to are clients that have mainframes, but every single one of those clients have distributed systems and they have – most of them now have some form of mobile app, and of course, they’ve got web apps, so they have all different types of platforms. Now, they may all intellectually understand that they need to do a better job of leveraging the investments they’ve made in their back end systems over the years, and so that we’re talking to them now about is, you know, hybrid cloud topology, API management or the API economy, which is, you know, the latest and greatest way of exposing systems for use by applications on other platforms and the other technologies. And the way DevOps fits, that’s how you go about doing it. If you want to be modifying systems and you need to do it at a rapid pace and yet in a low risk, high quality manner, DevOps is the answer. And now getting people to – you know, getting them from intellectual understanding to action, sometimes that’s the challenge, so that’s why we get out and talk to them.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. So Hayden, big news, or at least in our world, and specifically in your division, was a couple of months ago, you guys announced an exciting acquisition. You want to share that with our audience?
Hayden Lindsey: I would love to, yes. Took quite a while to get this announcement out the door, but on June 24th of this year, we announced acquisition of a company called Easy Source. They – and I’ve been aware of them for quite some time, been familiar with the former CEO and all that for quite some time. They have a very strong offering in the area of what we call application discovery and understanding. And basically what it does is it looks at source code, looks at schedulers, looks at JCL, looks at all different sources of information on mainframe systems, but also distributed systems, and then helps you do what if analysis, impact analysis. It helps you understand – the reason we talk about understanding, it helps you understand these very large and complex systems by visualizing linkages, control flow, data flow, many things like that.
So it’s a very, very powerful tool, supports IBM technologies, but many, many non-IBM technologies as well. So we view this as an essential first sort of step one, if you’re going to go about modernizing for purposes of a digital transformation or any other purpose, you need to understand what you have. And so we’re very excited to be able to offer this to our clients. And just by the way, it’s called Easy Source now, but as of October 4th, we will rebrand it IBM Application Discovery, and we’re combining that with some other solutions that we have around application delivery intelligence, or what we like to call Cognitive DevOps, to give a very comprehensive understanding and improvement offering.
Alan Shimel: Got it. So that triggered something with me, Hayden. You know, last year at InterConnect, cognitive was such an overriding, overarching theme of InterConnect, so much so that, you know, you guys are kind of breaking out – I don’t know if it’s called Watson World or whatever, but a conference just dedicated to Watson and I guess things cognitive. And now we’re using the term Cognitive DevOps. Why don’t you share with our audience, if you don’t mind, a little bit about what you mean by Cognitive DevOps?
Hayden Lindsey: Yeah, and in fact, from InterConnect last year, we introduced that term associated with a new offering that we had called IBM Application Delivery Intelligence, and I’ll explain in a minute what it’s about. But the more we started thinking about it, the more we realized DevOps is, of course, important, but how do you improve day after day, week after week, month after month, you know, after you have maybe automated all your tests, or you actually do have an automated delivery pipeline? How do you continue to improve? And that’s where we thought we would be able to look at different types of data that is owned by – owned or created by various tools in the overall development and delivery life cycle. And by combining these different sources of information, we believe, and I’ll give you an example, but we believe we can actually make recommendations to our clients about how to be much more efficient in what they’re doing to reduce risk, to improve quality, to improve productivity.
So our MVP, and it really is an MVP, we’re trying to take that concept seriously, was focusing on testing, because in the mainframe space, but also in a lot of other spaces, there is still a lot of manual testing that goes on. And so that’s obviously – the DevOps parlance, that’s waste and that’s error prone, because it’s being done by humans and they’re gonna make mistakes and it’s slow. And so we combined the information around test coverage, code coverage, tied to test cases, and then mapped that to change sets that we can observe that you change, you know, these three lines of code from when you open it in the editor and from when you save it and check it back in to a source code management system. And then we can tell you of, let’s just say, 10,000 test cases, that you only need to run 12 of them. And, you know, this would save time if the tests were automated, but it saves phenomenal amount of time if you’re doing this manually. So that’s one example of the type of insight, you know, pulling information from a variety of sources, to help people do DevOps better. And so therefore, I claim that equals cognitive.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. So Hayden, you kind of opened a little bit of a genie’s bottle with MVP. You know, one of the – I guess one of the issues, and you probably know this from running around and speaking to them, is this whole how do you get customers comfortable, right? Especially big companies that are doing, you know, once a year updates to their app, and say, hey, guess what, guys? We’re gonna do an MVP release, you know, weekly, or even monthly to start with. You know, how do you – I mean, that’s – you want to talk about a shock to the system. How are you getting – and especially we’re talking enterprise systems with mainframes and Z systems and so forth. How do you get them comfortable around that?
Hayden Lindsey: It takes time. [Laughs]
Alan Shimel: Has to be more than time, more than time, right?
Hayden Lindsey: What you need to do is you need to get small wins, and you need to gain confidence by getting small wins and progressing – if you think about what it takes to get a truly integrated, continuous integration, continuous delivery pipeline, it takes many, many, many different efforts. You have to do test automation, you need to do deployment and configuration automation, you need to have powerful tools, maybe for test case generation, on and on. There’s many things to do. You can’t do it all at once.
So what we do is we actually offer DevOps assessments for our clients, to go in, talk to their SMEs, figure out where the low hanging fruit is, where are their biggest pain points, and then put together a roadmap to say, all right, we recommend you start here, and don’t – and start with something where there’s gonna be real value if they’re successful. But also, don’t try to get them changing six or eight things in their overall development life cycle at once, because in all likelihood, you change that many things at the same time, you’re gonna fail. So it’s about getting small wins, to help them become comfortable that what people are saying in the DevOps community, what we’re recommending to them, can actually be done even if they’ve been doing things a different way for the last 30 years, because that is, in fact, the reality. I like to tell people my biggest competitor, not to slam any other folks out there, but my biggest competitor is inertia. People are comfortable doing things the way they’ve been doing them, and we have to come up with an argument about why it really makes a lot of sense to change.
Alan Shimel: And you know what, Hayden, unfortunately, it’s almost a law of physics. The bigger the organization, the more the inertia.
Hayden Lindsey: Absolutely.
Alan Shimel: And the more it takes to push it down. And, you know, in doing that, I do think you’re right, it is small wins, it is little things, building up momentum, breaking down these silos, if you will, between DevOps and even QA and security and a bunch of other stuff.
Hayden Lindsey: Another thing, Alan, that I’ll just say is that, you know, it’s not just a vendor, like IBM or any other vendors out there saying it. There are many clients, and you hear these folks talk, for example, at Gene Kim’s DevOps enterprise summit, which is coming up here in San Francisco in a few weeks or a month or so. The stories are amazing, and so the DevOps success stories are not by any means limited to the born on the web companies. There are many, many enterprise companies, like Nationwide, like Fidelity Investments, many others that embraced this, even before we were using the term DevOps.
And they’re very, very mature, but they are – they’re leading the way. But if you are in the insurance industry and you’re not at the forefront, and you say, oh, Nationwide is doing that? Maybe I better pay attention. So it’s good to have some role model companies out there that are also willing to share their story, so I think that’s great.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. You know, speaking of share your story, I just wanted to mention, Hayden, as long as we have you on, that coming up on October 25th, later this month, we’re gonna have a great webinar with our friends at IBM, on breaking down the barriers or the silos between Dev and Ops. And I don’t know if you want to talk about a little bit, but – our friend Rosalind, and –
Hayden Lindsey: Rosalind, Rosalind is one of our distinguished engineer, and she and I have been working together for a number of years now. She and Dave Willoughby, who is from the cloud architecture and emerging technologies area, are gonna talk about this – you know, how – the types of things that you can do and we need to be doing. Instead of just using this term DevOps and thinking it’s, you know, more about automating that handoff from DevOps, but what about the Ops back to Dev, and how can we more effectively utilize systems management and monitoring information to then provide – so this is just another example, providing improved insight back to the development community, so that they can do things better.
And it turns out this is actually an area that we are actively working on for that application discovery intelligence offering that I mentioned previously. You know, there is a wealth of information in the what you think of as the system administrator’s realm or the ops realm, that could be combined with development information to get some really interesting insight. So this is what we’re exploring. It’s also an area where we’re trying to find sponsor users in the client community to help us. You know, let them tell us, okay, I wish I could know or get some insight about this area, and then that can get us thinking about what type of data we would need in order to provide those types of recommendations. But so Rosalind and Dave will discuss some of their thinking around that area.
Alan Shimel: Got it. Lastly, you know what, Hayden, we’re probably way over time, I’m just gonna ask you one more question, if it’s okay. And that is we were talking, you know, offline before we got on about both of our schedules, spending way too much time on the road. What events are on your plate coming up, that people might catch you at or might be of interest?
Hayden Lindsey: Well, one that I have been to, and I spoke at the inaugural one, was this one I mentioned just a moment ago, Gene Kim’s DevOps summit. It’s here in San Francisco, which is where I live now, and so it’s extraordinarily convenient. [Laughs] And so that’s November 7th through the 9th, and I think it’s just amazing the stories that you hear there, so I intend to be there for the three days. And then I’m sure there will be others that will come up, but our big annual one is InterConnect, which this year, instead of being in February, is gonna be March 19th through the 23rd, yet again in Vegas. And there may be many more, but those are the two that are on the calendar at the moment.
Alan Shimel: Got it. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to both of those. I will be, of course, at Gene Kim’s event filming again and doing interviews, and we’re making some big plans for InterConnect this year, Hayden. I can’t announce them right now, but it’s gonna be a lot of fun. Anyway, Hayden, we’ve gone way over time, I apologize, but I want to thank you for joining us today on DevOps Chat. Continued success with the enterprise and DevOps team, or the DevOps and Enterprise team at IBM, and let’s have you on again soon and let’s catch up.
Hayden Lindsey: Sounds good, Alan. Take care, now.
Alan Shimel: Always a pleasure. Hayden Lindsey, VP and distinguished engineer, IBM DevOps Enterprise Systems. Thanks for being this episode’s guest on the DevOps Chat. This is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com, and see you again on our next DevOps Chat.