Additionally, Dr. Forsgren gives us some news on upcoming activities and releases coming from the DORA team. It is always a pleasure speaking with Nicole and I am sure you will find this conversation useful and a good reason to hear her and Gene Kim at the DevOps Virtual Summit, along with several other former DevOps Chat guests!
In the meantime here is the streaming audio of our conversation. The written transcript will be available shortly.
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone, this is Alan Shimel, DevOps.com, here for another DevOps Chat. Today’s guest is a special guest for our DevOps Chat, it’s Dr. Nicole Forsgren of DORA. Dr. Nicole, welcome to DevOps Chat.
Nicole Forsgren: Thank you, and thanks so much for having me.
Alan Shimel: Thank you. Nicole, we’re gonna talk a little bit about a Virtual Summit that you’re a part of, but before we do, I wanted to give our audience a little background on DORA. No, we’re not talking about the explorer, but it is—
Nicole Forsgren: [Laughter] We do some exploring, though.
Alan Shimel: – yes, you do, you do. But seriously, for people in our—and you know, we have kind of a worldwide audience, only 38 percent of our listeners are in the U.S., and there may be people out here who aren’t familiar with DORA. So why don’t you give them a quick background?
Nicole Forsgren: Okay, sounds good. So, D ORA is a company that is myself, Nicole Forsgren, and Gene Kim, author of the famed Phoenix Project, and co-author of The Visible Ops Handbook and The DevOps Handbook, along with Jez Humble, co-author of The DevOps Handbook and Continuous Delivery and Lean Enterprise. And together, we are also the lead investigators and primary authors of the State of DevOps Reports going back a few years now—several years now.
So we have spent several years researching and understanding the key factors that drive excellence in software development and delivery across the industry, whether that’s, you know, the famed unicorns, but also enterprises. And so what DORA does is, we take everything that we’ve learned and everything that we know across our—you know, a decade each, really, so decades of understanding, and we help companies measure and assess and understand and drive improvement in their own technology transformations.
Alan Shimel: Great. And, you know, so when I always hear the DORA story, Nicole, I am—I’m a child of the ’80s and the ‘70s before that, and I think of sort of a rock super band like Asia or something.
Nicole Forsgren: [Laughter]
Alan Shimel: You know? Where we’ve got all of these great kind of musicians coming together to make great music, and that is somewhat what DORA is, where we have three great—you know, three leaders of the DevOps community kinda joining heads. But it wasn’t just as you mentioned, it’s not just with the formation of DORA that you guys are doing this. I mean, there’s—I think it’s six years of the DevOps Survey kind of, or maybe this is the sixth year now, in the [Cross talk].
Nicole Forsgren: Oh, so it’s—yeah, well, it’s four years since I’ve been involved, and then I think, like, rubbing science on things, right?
Alan Shimel: Mm-hmm.
Nicole Forsgren: And it’s been academically rigorous since that time. You know, it’s, the years of study have appeared in peer review, right? So we’ve got some fantastic data behind us. Gene and Jez have been involved, I think, five years, and then it goes back another year or two before that, right?
Alan Shimel: Yeah.
Nicole Forsgren: And then Gene and Jez have been studying the space, I think, going back a decade, right? And then I’ve been doing academic research in this space since ’07, so yeah, we’re going on at least a decade, each.
Alan Shimel: Wow. That’s a lot of time kind of studying the subject matter and a lot of expertise in there. And I think that’s why, you know, personally, why I get excited to see what comes out of this, right, and what insights come out of the survey, of course. But DORA is more than just about conducting the survey, making sure it’s academically rigorous, making sure the numbers are, you know, bear witness to what they are, that they are, in fact, reliable and show things.
Nicole Forsgren: Right.
Alan Shimel: You’re actually taking that data and helping organizations as a result of the analysis of the data. So it’s not just analysis for analysis’ sake, it’s, how do you make your organization better by taking what we’ve learned?
Nicole Forsgren: Right. Exactly. So we do have, you know, The State of DevOps Report that comes out every year, and we make that publicly available, we make that free. We partner up with the team at Puppet, right, and we do have a report that comes out free every year, and we’ve got an ROI white paper that’s gonna be coming out in the next few weeks. So we do everything we can to discover new information and make that free every year. But what DORA also does is, we have a product now that helps organizations measure where they are, benchmark where they are against the industry, understand what they should do, what levers they should turn to drive performance improvements and then prioritize those improvements and those capabilities so that they can really drive improvement most efficiently, and then track those improvements, so they can really see the value come out of that improvement.
I love it. It’s super exciting, it’s super fascinating, because like I said, we do this because we love it, and because we wanna make things better. You know, we wanna have an impact on the industry. We wanna see our peers, you know, get better. Who was it, I always forget who said this, but you know, survival isn’t mandatory. [Laughter]
Alan Shimel: Yeah.
Nicole Forsgren: You know what I mean? Companies—like, you don’t have to do this. You can die, right? You can fail. Companies can fail, but that’s not what we wanna see. It’s so enthralling and it’s so exciting to go to conferences like Velocity and DevOps Enterprise Summit and hear these amazing transformation stories and see what is possible. And to be able to help provide these insights—and really, that’s the genesis behind DORA. You know, we were sitting down—Jez and I, and Gene—we were sitting down and saying, “Every year, someone comes up to us, and dozens of people come up and they say, ‘Help me understand. The report’s come out, and we want to understand how to measure and how to benchmark, but what should I do? Help me understand what I should do next.’”
And it’s just, it’s so difficult to be able to say, “Well, the measures are out there,” but providing companies and organizations and teams with tooling that’s just going to be simple and easy and straightforward to use so that they can measure, they can benchmark, and then so they can prioritize and understand which levers they should be using to really optimize and maximize their investments and their improvements is really exciting, and really kind of fulfilling, honestly.
Alan Shimel: Got it. Absolutely. So, Nicole, let us kind of pivot into talking about this Virtual Summit you guys have coming up. I think it’s next week.
Nicole Forsgren: Yes! I’m so excited. It’s so fun
Alan Shimel: So, go ahead. Tell our audience—I love it when you’re excited. Tell our audience about it.
Nicole Forsgren: [Gasps] I nerd out so hard. I’ve got the best job.
Alan Shimel: Uh huh.
Nicole Forsgren: [Laughter]
Alan Shimel: So this is, I wanna say it’s UVM, or maybe it’s not, I forget which—I know CA is a sponsor of it, but tell our audience about this Virtual Summit.
Nicole Forsgren: So, you know what? I’m super excited about this. I think the Virtual Summit is fun because I know so many people that are like, “Ugh, I wanna go to these conferences, and I just, either I don’t have the budget” or most of the time, now, people just don’t have time, right? Going to conferences is tough because the travel is hard, taking a day off of work is hard. This Virtual Summit is fantastic, because you can log in, you can listen in, and you can hear from so many amazing, fantastic people, and you don’t have to leave, right? Even if you have budget, getting on a plane and leaving—like, it’s hard.
And the Virtual Summit is great, because CA has been able to line up so many fantastic people. Aruna did such a great job. I’m super excited. I’m excited, because I get to meet so many more people and hear all these fantastic transformation journeys.
Alan Shimel: Yeah. I mean—
Nicole Forsgren: I’m so excited.
Alan Shimel: – that’s kinda what makes a lot of what we do, you know, the world go around, when we hear more and more companies—
Nicole Forsgren: Yeah! This is why my job is the best! [Laughter]
Alan Shimel: Yeah, I hear ya. I’m gonna bring up another thing, though, to you, Dr. Nicole, and that is this whole idea of kind of virtual summits, right? We saw it with the All Day DevOps event that a bunch of people put on last year.
Nicole Forsgren: Uh huh.
Alan Shimel: We’re seeing it now in this virtual thing. You know, for a long time—I don’t wanna be negative, but these virtual conferences just didn’t do it for me. But I think the technology’s gotten a lot better. I think the, you know, bandwidth and mobility and cloud and all of the things that help drive DevOps as well have led us to have better experiences in things like a virtual summit where you really can meet people, right? Even though you may not be in the room with them, it’s virtual.
Nicole Forsgren: Right.
Alan Shimel: But it’s really a great experience.
Nicole Forsgren: Well, do you know what? I think it’s a combination of things. I think some of it’s the technology. Do you know what else I think it is? I think it’s also, like, the special magic sauce behind the DevOps community. It didn’t always work for me before, because the other communities just have a different underlying culture. DevOps is just a little bit different, right? I’ve been around tech forever, right? Before my Ph.D. I worked in hardware performance, where I, like, I’ve got a hardware patent, I—I worked in hardcore tech for a really long time. And those communities are, they just have a little bit different DNA.
DevOps is very, very different. And so for anyone who’s gonna tune into this summit—participate, pay attention, reach out. Add me on LinkedIn, right? Everybody say hi, wave—love you all. Add me on LinkedIn, add me on Twitter, follow me, send me a message. The thing I love about the DevOps community is that everyone is in it for the community. Everyone will reach out. So many people legitimately, honestly want to help everyone else get better. And it’s something that I just haven’t seen in very many other communities. It’s just so different.
Alan Shimel: You know, I was—
Nicole Forsgren: And I think that’s what makes so many of these virtual summits work so well.
Alan Shimel: I agree with you. Nicole, I just saw you, I guess it was two weeks ago now or last week—no, it was two weeks ago at the RSA event—
Nicole Forsgren: Oh, yeah, uh huh.
Alan Shimel: – where we did our, you know, we did our Dev SecOps show there. And what was funny is, I got an e-mail from RSA—do you know there were 43,000 people at RSA this week?
Alan Shimel: We—yeah.
Nicole Forsgren: My word.
Alan Shimel: We—that’s crazy.
Nicole Forsgren: And I didn’t get sick—it’s amazing. [Laughter]
Alan Shimel: Yeah! Well, I did, but—you know, we had about 900 people at the Dev SecOps event throughout the day on Monday, and then the cocktail party and all that. But what you said about the DevOps community so rang true for me. Even in this see of 43,000 lives out there, right, the DevOps people kinda gel. They were very into being together and sharing and talking. And it’s contagious to my security community friends, who, you know, they—I can’t tell you how, and I’ve been in security for 15 years—how many came over and they loved the vibe that we have in the DevOps team.
Nicole Forsgren: Oh, yeah!
Alan Shimel: And they wanna be part of it, and that’s very different, Nicole, than three to four years ago when I first started doing that at RSA conference, and it was very much a butting of heads, right?
So yeah, it is a testament. It’s a testament to, you know, we talk about culture all the time and a lot of people think we’re crazy, but it is a testament to that whole culture and vibe around the DevOps community.
So I’ve said my piece. I’ll step back off my soap box.
Nicole Forsgren: [Laughter]
Alan Shimel: So, Nicole, for people listening in on the Virtual Summit next week, I mean, Gene’s talking, obviously, I’m sure it’ll be interesting and he’ll give us some insight into some, maybe, new transformations he’s been studying and analysis. What do you—any previews of what you’re gonna talk about for our audience?
Nicole Forsgren: So I’m gonna be talking about some of the trends that we see, some of the promising things that are coming up. Some of the big—the levers that you can turn that I think are exciting, I’ll be speaking to some of the things that Ops teams, you know, can really contribute that are important.
Alan Shimel: Mm-hmm. Very cool.
Nicole Forsgren: And honestly, I’m also—you know, I’m super excited to hear from some of the other speakers. I’m really excited to hear from Sylvia at United, Kelly at Jewelers Mutual, John at CNN—super excited for that.
Alan Shimel: Yeah.
Nicole Forsgren: Right? They’ve got such a great slate.
Alan Shimel: They do, they have a nice slate and, you know, like you mentioned, Aruna from CA—I mean, CA has a great customer bench there.
Nicole Forsgren: Oh, God. I tell you what, man, Aruna has so many fantastic insights. Anything she comes up with, I just love—super excited to hear what she has to say.
Alan Shimel: She’s actually been a guest on our DevOps Chat regarding her book. So here’s—
Nicole Forsgren: Yeah! So great.
Alan Shimel: – between you and me, I always have a crush on Aruna, because I just, I really—I mean, she’s got it goin’ on, you know? She’s written her book, she’s an engineer, she’s done the business side, she’s full of energy, and I—you know, I just, I tell her all the time, man, if I had a daughter, I’d want her to grow up and be like her. Because she—
Nicole Forsgren: I know. I have a serious intellectual crush on her. She is a mover and a shaker, man. She is doin’ some good stuff.
Alan Shimel: Yeah, that’s good stuff. I’m really, really proud to call her a friend. Anyway—I’m really proud to call you a friend, though, too, because you’ve met my son, and I say, “You need to go talk to her. You wanna do statistics? There’s someone to grow up like.” But anyway.
Nicole Forsgren: That’s right.
Alan Shimel: Dr. Nicole, I’ll be listening, obviously. I hope our audience will be. We are all watching what DORA is doing, and I guess the new report—well, the survey’s closed now, right, so the new report is [Cross talk]?
Nicole Forsgren: Yep. So stay tuned, the report will be coming out early June.
Alan Shimel: Very cool. We’ll be looking forward to that. That’ll probably be around when DevOps Enterprise Summit is in London.
Nicole Forsgren: Close. DOSE—oh yeah, DOSE London is June 5th and 6th. Also, DORA’s coming out with an ROI white paper and then summer, fall, me and the guys, Gene and Jez, are coming out with a book, summarizing all of the research that we’ve done.
Alan Shimel: Ooh! You heard it here first.
Nicole Forsgren: Including—yes—including things that did not fit in the book, surprises, and more on the science [Cross talk].
Alan Shimel: Very cool. I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be an exciting summer.
Nicole Forsgren: Thank you.
Alan Shimel: I think we might be doing some book giveaways here. [Laughter] But until then—hey, check out Gene, Nicole, Aruna Ravichandran from CA and a bunch of other great practitioners at the DevOps Virtual Summit coming up. In the article on this, we’ll probably have links to the registration and so forth.
Dr. Nicole, it was so great speaking with you, and continued success with DORA and all of your endeavors. We wish you lots of success, and we’ll be watching it closely, and maybe we’ll have you back on.
Nicole Forsgren: Thank you so much.
Alan Shimel: Thank you. We’ll have you on to discuss some of this stuff again shortly.
Nicole Forsgren: Sounds good.
Alan Shimel: Alright. Dr. Nicole Forsgren, co-founder of DORA and guest on the DevOps Virtual Summit coming up just next week. Thank you for appearing.
This is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com, and we’ll see you soon on another DevOps Chat.