I recently had the opportunity to cover Pink17, Pink Elephant’s 21st Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada. In this case, what happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas; instead, most came home with actionable takeaways surrounding Pink17’s theme, “Communicate, Connect. Change,” to help grow their businesses.
The content-rich and comprehensive program, with inspirational keynote speakers, 12 tracks and more than 120 sessions, was a veritable smorgasbord of subjects spanning the IT service management (ITSM) spectrum. This included many thoughtful and informative DevOps-focused tracks. The event as a whole was a well-organized and executed conference. The attendees whom I spoke with thought the sessions were relevant and the peer networking invaluable. Whether you were there for a strategic vision, a tactical plan or operational know-how, Pink17 delivered.
In this article, I’ll present some key takeaways from the conference along with some interesting conversations I had along the way with three of Pink Elephant’s thought leaders including their visions for DevOps in the ITSM space.
IT Success is About Delivering Business Value
In his opening remarks, George Spalding, executive vice president of Pink Elephant, had a message for IT professionals: “You must start planning DevOps by 2017 or by 2020 your business will be irrelevant.”
This message was supported throughout many of the DevOps sessions, such as in “Agile, Lean, and DevOps – Working Together To Increase ITSM Efficiency,” presented by Troy DuMoulin, VP Research & Development for Pink Elephant. In this session, DuMoulin revealed how Agile, Lean and DevOps practices can work together to help organizations achieve the elusive challenge to be better, faster and cheaper.
According to DuMoulin, much has changed in the IT world in last three years, and although many of the practices are the same, IT professionals now need to do their jobs faster, while at the same time delivering additional business value. “The language has changed. No longer do we talk about maturity, robustness, compliance, risk and availability,” said DuMoulin. “Now Agile, Lean, and DevOps are all about the concept of speed, and efficiency is key.”
We Didn’t Invent DevOps—It’s Always Been There. The IT Community is Just Refining It
According to several DevOps speakers, DevOps isn’t just one entity but rather a system of dynamic parts that work collectively together. When everything is about a quest for fast flow, DevOps can be considered a system of value generation. According to DuMoulin and others at Pink17, the key for ITSM professionals to realize is that a DevOps culture is about creating a fast flow for their existing work—not replacing it.
DevOps Teams Deliver Real Value to Successful DevOps
In her session, “DevOps Teams: A Continuous Engagement Approach,” Jayne Groll, co-founder and board member of the DevOps Institute (DOI) and also a member of the Pink Think Tank, provided insight into emerging DevOps roles, skills and competencies that are delivering real value to successful DevOps. In particular, she explored various models for DevOps teams to support continuous engagement, shared accountabilities, faster deployments and increasing trust between DevOps, Ops, Security, QA and Support.
Besides defining the emerging roles and skills in DevOps, including those focused on people, practices and automation, Groll also discussed models and approaches for the creation of DevOps teams including how their value creation differs from today’s hierarchal IT organization.
“The DevOps Teams are continuous and cross-functional,” said Groll. “These teams demonstrate ‘CALMS’ values—Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement and Sharing.”
Make Sure the Right People are at the Table at the Right Time
Jack Probst, principal consultant at Pink Elephant and a member of the Pink Think Tank, thinks when most people talk about DevOps they see it as an automation play, when really it’s an organizational change and culture effort because people are really rethinking the way in which work will be conducted. According to Probst, the biggest challenge for IT professionals is finding the time to make sure all the right people are at the table at the right time. Regardless of DevOps tools that are used, if people aren’t talking to each other—DevOps won’t work.
“For me, DevOps is defining the way you put the LEGO pieces together in an organization to make it work,” said Probst. “DevOps has a lot of buzz, but at its core, it’s a people issue. Adopt and adapt and figure out what’s important and make it work inside your organization.”
Furthermore, to avoid short-sighted thinking and get the optimal results in a DevOps initiative, organizations need to think of DevOps in terms of people and culture and not only tools.
Start with Why?
In her session, “The Yellow Brick Road & The Effective Organizational Change Manager,” Robin Hysick, management consultant with Pink Elephant, discussed the Change Management Body of Knowledge (CMBok)’s 13 critical knowledge areas, the related professional certification levels and how the methods are techniques covered by the CMBok can help organizations manage successful projects and transformative initiatives.
Robin’s perspective on integrating DevOps into an existing ITSM system is all about the why.
“The first thing an organization needs to do is to first understand why? I like to refer people to Simon Sinek and his ‘Golden Circle’ explanation,” said Hysick. “We’ve never done this in IT. … Organizations won’t succeed with DevOps and change management until they know why they’re doing what they’re doing.”
In addition, Hysick teaches the DevOps Institute’s DevOps Foundation and Certified Agile Service Management courses. She says when people come to these classes they usually have no idea what DevOps is—when they leave they understand the concept behind DevOps and where it came from. Most importantly, IT professionals return from the classes knowing exactly what to ask their decision makers so they can best determine how to achieve a DevOps solution.
So what were my takeaways from my Pink17 Vegas experience? Mainly that DevOps isn’t only about tools, automation or continuous delivery—it’s about people. The right people at the same table who have the intelligence and the passion for getting to the heart of their business’s why factor?
Too often IT managers are so busy in the day-to-day needs of quickly producing their products they forget the reason they are doing it in the first place. And the most important question gets lost in our frenetic world of disruptive technology: Why?
At Pink17 IT professionals learned that to have a successful DevOps initiative, they need to take a beat before they run off to their next sprint or say “we’re doing DevOps now,” and figure out why their business wants to “do DevOps?” What is the business problem they are trying to solve? What change do they want to make it? Why will it benefit their business? What are the opportunities or urgencies of their business and then define what they need to do to make the outcome happen? Whether it’s bringing more tools to bear, implementing automation or more, it all should start with, Why?
Did you attend Pink17? What were some of your favorite sessions? Looking to attend Pink18, read more here.