I recently sat down with Carol Carpenter, CEO of ElasticBox. We just released the results of the survey we partnered on with ElaticBox on the “Real Value of DevOps”. There were some great takeaways in this survey for leaders looking to lead the transformation in DevOps. Carol and I discussed these takeaways and other relevant topics. Below is the streaming MP3 file, as well as the transcript of our conversation below that.
Alan Shimel: Hi. This is Alan Shimel, and this is another DevOps Chat for the Leadership Suite, at DevOps dot com. Thank you for joining in. Our guest today is Carol Carpenter, CEO of Elastic Box. Carol, welcome to DevOps Chats.
Carol Carpenter: Thank you Alan. It’s great to be here.
Alan Shimel: So Carol, well, you and I know each other, but for our audience, just quickly, just in case they’re not familiar with Elastic Box, can you give us a little background?
Carol Carpenter: Sure. So Elastic Box is a cloud application manager. We enable companies to deploy any application through any infrastructure, or private or public cloud, so that businesses can actually deliver code faster. We help companies, like Netflix, T&A, Cytobank and more orchestrate the deployment and management of applications.
And many of these companies have seen their application life cycles increase by 10X, in terms of speed, and time to deploy, and time to market. And the secret sauce of in terms of speed Elastic Box is our reusability. And the way we orchestrate is through a reusable architecture of, what we call, boxes that enable IT operations, dev-ops, and even end user’s application, for supervision on demand, infrastructure in one click, and access to a sophisticated service catalog.
Alan Shimel: Fantastic. And Carol, we just recently announced you had sponsored a survey that we did here at DevOps dot com, with some research, on the real value of DevOps. And, of course, people can download the survey from the Elastic Box site, and read about it here on DevOps dot com.
But I wanted to ask you, what as the reasoning behind doing some survey research?
Carol Carpenter: Well, you know, there’s a lot of discussion about dev-ops. We’re seeing many new titles and organizations recruiting for dev-ops, and yet when we would talk to customers and prospects, there was still ambiguity about the role itself – who’s actually doing what?
And what is the real value of the investment – both in terms of people, time – open source or not? Where is the real value in return on those investments? And we wanted to try to understand, and delve into that area, and understand better – what’s really happening in dev-ops? Who is spending this time there? And what’s the ROI?
Alan Shimel: And Carol, for these DevOps Chat for the Leadership Suite, we’re really talking to CIOs, CTOs, VPs – upper management. What, if you can, as a CEO yourself, what would you say were some of the biggest or most important takeaways for leaders within the survey?
Carol Carpenter: Alan, great question. You know there were a few key takeaways, and I think you and I were both surprised by a few of them. I think, to start with, as a leader you look at what are we investing? How are we spending our money? And what is our return?
The ROI analysis I think is still very early and immature around dev-ops, and we have lots of hypotheses about that. But it was surprising because there has been a lot of effort, and energy, and investment that’s gone into dev-ops tools. I mean – look at how many dev-ops vendors there are right now in the market.
And yet, the actual impact and measurability remains largely subjective and I don’t know – over 50 to 60 percent of the respondents said, I don’t know, when asked about Hoover Trucks. That as like the big, number one insight, that surprised me.
I think some of the other takeaways are a little bit less surprising, but nonetheless reinforcing of what’s happening in dev-ops today. So number one, when we asked about the team sizes and functions, Alan, what we saw is that, dev-ops, while over 50 percent of the respondents said – yeah, dev-ops is my primary function.
You know another 41 percent said they had another title, and it was IT Ops. And then another 42 percent said their secondary function is around security, and that’s pretty interesting. But what it reminds us is that dev-ops is still a very nascent, growing area, and that these people are wearing lots of hats.
And so we, as a vendor partner to dev-ops teams and others who are trying to work with them, you realize like they are spread very thin, and that dev-ops teams are being asked to do work that – what used to be traditional IT Ops, in addition to work that’s now kind of develop or deployment work, and be this communication bridge across these different groups.
Alan Shimel: I agree. I mean, Carol – and you and I have gone over the survey in-depth, obviously. To me, the biggest takeaway from leadership is what you hit on first, which is – we really don’t know the true ROI yet of a lot of these dev-ops practices, and tools, and patterns if you will.
I think, gut, right – and so many executives, as you know, Carol, go with their gut, right? And if their gut tells them that automation is good, that dev-ops can help, that more releases, higher-functioning IT directly results in higher profits, and higher productivity.
And so they’re going on their gut, and they’re going on what seems logical. But a lot of people just haven’t done the – the bean counters haven’t jumped in there yet and done the real statistical analysis, to really show us – yes. This is the ROI. Yes. This is the return where you’re going to get it, and this is how much more profitable.
We’ve seen people sort of bite at the edges, if you will. But from a leadership point of view, especially in more risk adverse verticals, I’m surprised more people haven’t asked that. The other thing that I thought, Carol, from a leader’s perspective as really something to keep in mind was, so many – and I think it’s a fallacy.
So many people think of, open source, as free. Yes, you don’t pay for the software, but when you look at the total cost of ownership, it’s not free. It may be cheaper than commercial software and maybe not. I’ve seen studies go both ways. But I think, from a leader’s point of view, they have to remember that just because we’re using open source “free” software doesn’t mean that it’s free throughout the total life cycle of it. Make sense?
Carol Carpenter: Oh yeah. I absolutely saw that in _____ as well, and I think the other point, as a leader looking at dev-ops and what kind of investments you make – I think the promise of dev-ops is to reduce the silo between development and operation cycles. That’s how the title emerged.
And yet, one of the findings is around dev-ops tools lacking sufficient integration for the end to end delivery and ongoing management. And so I think what we’ve seen is – yes, great pockets of success in automating one portion of the pipeline.
And we saw a large number of those comments are doing automated testing around continuous integration, and continuous delivery. But what you’re seeing is – while that’s working is – across the whole end-to-end tool chain, like there still are these little silos. And I think what we will see evolve over the next coming year, is more integration, more glue in terms of platforms, to bring them together, in these various dev-ops projects.
Alan Shimel: I think you’re dead on Carol. I think what we’re seeing right now is the first generation of dev-ops tools, making their way into the marketplace, and they themselves are almost siloed, right, where they don’t necessarily work with each other.
Carol Carpenter: That’s right. I mean what we saw was, when people were looking at their investments and their responses in the surveys – all right. There’s _____ control. There’s container platforms. There’s CICD. They’ve invested a lot in configuration management, and there’s automated tools for that, and some people have invested in it.
And it’s still disparate, so I agree with you. I think we’re going to see continued maturation of this market.
Alan Shimel: Yeah. I think you’ll see a second generation of tools that maybe seek to stitch together a lot of these first-gen tools and, frankly, that’s somewhere where Elastic Box plays too, right?
Carol Carpenter: Absolutely. We like to think of ourselves, Elastic Box, as elastic glue. We’re the glue to bring together a lot of these dev-ops initiatives into an end-to-end integrated delivery and management platform.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. Carol, so we talked that there were a lot of surprises or things that we didn’t expect in the survey. What would you say was the biggest surprise for you?
Carol Carpenter: Well, I think that the biggest surprise was around the lack of measurability and lack of understanding the ROI of the dev-ops investments, either in terms of people, time, resources, or money. And I’d say the second one is that when we asked about the dev-ops tools that they are using, that CICD came to the very top.
And, on the one hand, you could say – okay. That’s not a surprise. People have been trying to automate testing for a long time. But CICD is a step beyond that, and that was surprising to me that that’s the biggest driver still. I guess, based upon the noise and what we hear every day in the market, I expected that there would have been another dev-ops initiative would have risen to the top, such as, you know [Crosstalk] –
Alan Shimel: Like configuration management?
Carol Carpenter: Management or monitoring, which obviously there’s very, very strong monitoring tools, or security and compliance, or even containerization. And maybe it’s because of the press and media and we’re so bombarded by a lot of the initiatives, that we think that that’s where the money is going, and where people are spending time and energy.
And yet, automated deployment and testing and CICD are still at the top.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely, and I think – I mean, what we see here at DevOps dot com bears it out. Look, there’s money being spent across the board in dev-ops tool sets right now, but CICD certainly are some of the biggest ones. Carol, believe it or not, we’ve already gone over 12 minutes, and we try to keep these short, and we need to wrap it up. But I wanted to ask you the same question I ask every attendee here on the DevOps Chats, and that is, for our leaders out there listening, if they had to read one book which would really help them the most, what would be your suggestion?
Carol Carpenter: Gosh, there are so many great books. I would recommend the Phoenix Project. Have you read that, Alan?
Alan Shimel: Oh, as well, yeah. That’s what got me into dev-ops. I met Gene Kim about four or five years ago when the Phoenix Project was a manuscript,
Carol Carpenter: It’s just game changing, right? The Phoenix Project – it gives you an orientation and a framework around how to attack process challenges, and how to attack the full delivery, you know, the whole life cycle of soft ware or any process. Really, really insightful, and you know, obviously, it’s written in a parable format, so it makes it very enjoyable and easy to read.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. It’s an easy read. Well, Carol Carpenter, CEO of Elastic Box, much continued success at Elastic Box, and again, the survey that we’ve done with Elastic Box and the real value of DevOps, is available if you go to Elastic Box, and you can find it at DevOps.com as well.
I’m interested in anyone’s feedback obviously on it. Carol, we hope to have you back again in the future, and thanks so much for being today’s guest.
Carol Carpenter: Thank you, Alan.