I had a chance to speak with CTO of technical sales of DevOps for IBM right before the recent DevOps Enterprise Summit in London. I also interviewed Sanjeev at the DOES London event and that video will be available shortly, but I wanted to give you a preview of what he was speaking about in case you didn’t get a chance to attend DOES London 2016.
Below is the audio file of our chat and below that is a transcript of our conversation.
Of course Sanjeev is a frequent contributor to DevOps.com and you can read more of his articles here.
Alan Shimel: Hi, everyone, Alan Shimel, Editor in Chief of DevOps.com and we’re here with another DevOps Chat. Today’s guest is Sanjeev Sharma, CTO of Technical Sales of DevOps IBM. Sanjeev, I mangled that probably. Why don’t you correct me?
Sanjeev Sharma: Sure. No, Alan, you got it right. My title is CTO for DevOps Technical Sales. I’m a Distinguished Engineer here at IBM and happy to chat with you, my favorite topic, DevOps.
Alan Shimel: Yeah and always happy to have you on, Sanjeev. Sanjeev, today, specifically, I wanted to talk a little bit about the upcoming Gene Kim’s DevOps Enterprise Summit event taking this Thursday and Friday, June 30 and July 1, over at the Hilton Metropole in London, England. You, of course, I think are handling or moderating a panel at the event. Correct?
Sanjeev Sharma: Yes, sir. Yes, Alan. I’m really excited about it, and as you know, Gene has been hosting these events. This is his third year, if I remember correctly, but this is the first time he’s having it in Europe, so very excited about it. IBM, of course, is a sponsor for the event, but I also have the privilege of hosting a panel.
On the panel, we’ll be focusing on how to assess a large enterprise’s readiness to adopt DevOps. People ask about – ask the question, “How long does it take to get from here to London? I live in Washington, D.C.” Well, I have to ask them the question, right? First of all, where in London do you want to go? Secondly, where in Washington, D.C. do you live? It can take you about an hour just to get to the airport. Knowing your Point B, where you want to go, and knowing where you are, your current state, your Point A, is very important. We will be focused on that.
I’m pleased to have a very exciting panel. I have the leader of DevOps adoption at Lloyds Bank with me on the panel, Mark Howell. I have a VP of Application Development from Monetize on the panel with me, and then I have my peer, Rosalind Radcliffe, who is the CTO for DevOps Architecture for our Enterprise Organization aligned here at IBM. She comes from the mainframe side of the world, also as a third panelist, talking about this topic.
Alan Shimel: Got it. Sanjeev, before we jump exactly or primarily into the panel, as you said, this is the third year for Gene’s DevOps Enterprise Summit, first year in London. It’s happening at an auspicious time after all of this Brexit, right on the heels of it. For those who may not be familiar though, they’ve never had the chance to attend a summit, you have, obviously. Can you give our audience an idea of what the summit or what these DevOps Enterprise Summits are about? What are they trying to do? Then, we’ll dive into it specifically.
Sanjeev Sharma: Sure, Alan, sure, sure. I think DevOps, as folks listening to this and people who follow your phenomenal DevOps.com probably realize, it came from – had its origin primarily in what we like to call the “unicorns” of the world, the cutting-edge companies, the startup companies, who are normally leaps and bounds ahead of your traditional enterprise.
Gene Kim started this event. I think he had this as the tagline for his first one, I don’t know if he still uses it, saying, “DevOps is also for the horses, not just for the unicorns.” Right? The focus of this event is how are large enterprises, with all the complexities, the legacy, the sheer inertia of it, which comes from the size of them, how are they adopting DevOps?
We, obviously, at IBM found that very exciting because that’s our sweet spot. Every DevOps Summit I’ve attended, the speakers Gene has been able to go find, and of course, being from IBM, I have to look at everything a little bit through my own lens, but this is not a vendor-specific event. It is totally agnostic. It is people sharing their real-life’s journeys of adopting DevOps, what stumbling blocks they encountered, what challenges they had to overcome, and these challenges, while they vary from company to company, the ones, if you’re a large enterprise with a large legacy install base, with a large distributed set of practitioners, vendors, and business partners, outsourcers, geographic time issues, these are common problems.
You hear a lot at this summit about how large organizations are addressing these challenges, which companies face. For anybody who does not work in the proverbial startup with the proverbial “two-pizza” team, but works in such an organization, I think this is a must-attend event. This will be actually my first time speaking. I’ve attended the previous events, but I’ve not had an option to present or speak, so I’m really looking forward to it, to be a part of the action.
Alan Shimel: Got it. Sanjeev, thank you. That was actually dead on, and I hope that gives people a good sense of what the DOES shows are about and why they may want to attend. Let’s now jump in though. As you mentioned, you’ve got a great cast. I’ve met the gentleman from Lloyds Bank, and for those maybe on this side of the pond who aren’t familiar with Lloyds Bank, would you call them a mid-size or a large bank, as banks go, Sanjeev?
Sanjeev Sharma: I would qualify them as a large bank.
Alan Shimel: Yup. What’s interesting, and I always find this interesting when you talk to DevOps people, Sanjeev, is we think of financial and the whole financial industry as being rather conservative. But yet, when it comes to new technology, such as DevOps, or I don’t want to say new, but a little more out there technologies and things such as DevOps, we see large banks and financial institutions, whether they be insurance, banks, but finance, really kind of leading the way here. Lloyds Bank is, I think, a great example of that.
Sanjeev Sharma: Yes and I think, in fact, both the companies I have on, Monetize is the second panelist. In fact, Garret Evans, who was a VP of AppDev at Monetize, is the other panelist other than Mark Howell from Lloyds. They’re both in the financial services industry, and they both come at it from kind of a different angle in the sense that Monetize is a service provider, and you would call them as a company. They’re not a bank themselves. They provide services to financial organizations, and they’re on the cutting-edge of technology. They’re way ahead of their – on the innovation forefront, and Lloyds too. But Lloyds still has that whole legacy, like more large banks, still has the legacy, “keep the lights on” applications that they to run.
But it is interesting what you mentioned about how financial services, which we, until a few years ago, one would think of them as the slow plodding conservative people in their suits and ties and risk-averse, being at the forefront of DevOps adoption, and that is very true. They are a prime example of how adopting things like Agile and DevOps actually reduced your risk, actually makes you agile in a disciplined and organized manner, as an organization, rather than some people’s view of it being the Wild West.
I think they’re a prime example. Why are they doing this? They’re doing it because of all the industries out there, they are one who are going through probably the most transformative change in their existence they’ve ever had. Financial services, banking, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer money transfer, these are all undergoing a massive transformational change. They’re getting challenged by these FinTechs, or financial startups.
I think this has become a very interesting place for them, and I worked with financial services, it’s kind of my core industry, all over the world. Right? When you go to the developing nations, you see these financial services companies facing the challenge of, “How do I go and reach the un-banked populations who need banking services without – but cannot access a traditional bank?”
Then, in the developed world, you have this challenge of, “HOw do I go access the Millennials, who, again, do not want to go into a traditional bank, but need banking services, but do not consume and access those banking services the way you and I, and the folks with much more grey hair than them, are used to doing so?”
It is ripe for transformation, ripe for disruption, and DevOps provides that enablement for the IT organizations in these financial institutions to be ready for the disruption and enable it, and not be the inhibiter, but be the enabler.
Alan Shimel: Excellent, absolutely. Sanjeev, we’ve left an important person out of your panel though. Haven’t we? Besides yourself and the two financial institutions, we also have Rosalind Radcliffe on here.
Sanjeev Sharma: Absolutely. I didn’t want to – I’m not intending to ignore her [chuckles].
Alan Shimel: Why don’t you give our listeners a little background? Rosalind has been a frequent guest on our podcast, but for those who may not be aware, why don’t you give them a little background?
Sanjeev Sharma: Absolutely. Rosalind is my peer. She’s also a Distinguished Engineer here at IBM. She’s in the Development Labs in our Enterprise Modernization side of IBM. She focuses on the very – to simplify it and make it very generic – on the mainframe end of the world, although, her influence extends across to all aspects of DevOps, and she’s been a great person we’ve worked with, a great partner, in expanding IBM’s DevOps capabilities.
She actually has her own session also, I think, a couple of sessions before my panel, where she’ll be talking about DevOps and how it’s adopted in the mainframe world, especially talking about testing, which is a major area where we’ve seen a lot of traction when it comes to DevOps adoption on the mainframe.
She is going to be bringing to our panel the mainframe point of view, and I’m generalizing here when I say “mainframe.” Right? It could be Systems Z, or Series I, or large traditional legacy systems, but bringing that because if you look at large organizations, especially large organizations who have been around for a while, be it they’re banks, or retail, or government institutions, and those which are transaction heavy, they still rely on the mainframe to run their core businesses.
How they are adopting DevOps has been a surprise, a refreshing surprise, so to speak, in the sense that a lot of these large organizations have come forward and their mainframe teams have the lead of saying, “We want to adopt DevOps first.” It is unique, and when we tell people that, they’re usually surprised going, “Mainframe?” One usually thinks of them as being at the laggard end of adopting new technologies and new processes.
But we have found that to be exactly the opposite. I’m sure there are organizations out there where their mainframe teams are going, “Hey, it’s not broken. Why should I try to fix it?” but most mainframe organization’s mainframe teams are in the process of modernizing their application-delivery capabilities. I think DevOps has given them the opportunity, the platform, and the capability to move into the modern world. There’s a significant C-change going on in how customers are consuming the mainframe.
Linux’s own mainframe is a great example. OpenStack’s own mainframe is great example. And, of course, the z/OS, which IBM’s operating system for the mainframe has also evolved and become extremely modern. She has a very – is going to be able to bring a very unique perspective, which I think will apply to a lot of the attendees, so I’m very fortunate to have her on the panel.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. Sanjeev, believe it or not, we’re almost out of time already, but real quickly, specifically now to your panel, give me, if you can, three reasons why it’s a must-attend panel for those who may be in attendance in London.
Sanjeev Sharma: Sure. Number one, people don’t want to hear theory, and I’m sure all our attendees, or our listeners who have the opportunity to attend, don’t want to come and listen to theory. I mean you can Google DevOps, you to YouTube, watch 100 videos on the theory of DevOps, read some books. People want to hear how a company actually undertook that journey and succeeded with it. Right?
That’s what we have on this panel. We have three examples of people, and I’m not even counting my own experiences working with the dozens of companies I’ve worked with in my role. My goal is not to talk there, but be the facilitator, but the three people we have on the panel are bringing tons of experience, real-world experience, and they will be, hopefully, sharing very openly. I know these folks. I know they’ll be sharing very openly and are willing to talk about all the pitfalls and the speed bumps they hit along the way, so real-world experience.
Number two, it’s an interactive panel. We are going to have no slides, maybe one slide in the beginning just so people know who we are. The idea is – in fact, we are going to do it very uniquely. I’m going to have my iPad up there with me, with these organizations, both Monetize, Lloyds Bank, and Rosalind. They’re going to give me some drawings before and which I’m going to draw out during the panel, so people can, in real life, see real-life versions of what their application delivery pipelines and their architectures look like, and what changes they needed to make.
Thirdly, we are going to focus or talk a lot about culture because the biggest bottleneck, the biggest inhibitor to adopting DevOps, is cultural inertia, especially in a large organization. Right? Things have been going on for a while. This is how we always do things, always start things. The responsibility is not mine. It’s not broken. Why should I try to fix it? These are all the specific examples of cultural inertia. We intend to spend a lot of time talking about how, in a large organization, which has set ways of doing things, which have highly distributed teams, how does one overcome that cultural inertia?
I would say those are three very good reasons to come to our panel. We are on Thursday, I believe, at 2:45 PM, but please check the agenda, they’ve been moving things around on the agenda, for the final time and location, but come there. Our plan is to open it up for questions from the audience, so you’ll be able to ask your own questions, and, of course, all of us panelists will be around for the entire event to meet with you and answer any questions one-on-one also. I hope to see you all there.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. Sanjeev, thanks for giving a quick preview of both DevOps Enterprise Summit and the great all-star panel you’re hosting there. I will be there. We’ll be filming. I think we’re actually going to video interview, so we’ll follow-up then. But for anyone who is attending DevOps Enterprise Summit in London, please be sure to take in Sanjeev’s panel. As most things Sanjeev does, I’m sure it will be a great event.
For those who are considering going to DevOps Enterprise Summit in London, I highly encourage you to do it. If you can’t make London though, the San Francisco version of the event will be in the fall, and I encourage you to go there. Sanjeev Sharma, IBM, thanks for being today’s guest on DevOps Chats.
Sanjeev Sharma: Thanks, Alan. Thanks for the opportunity and I look forward to working more with you.