Last Friday, I was delighted to spend an entire hour with seven leaders of DevOps transformations, discussing the practices and patterns they see for leading a DevOps transformation in large, complex organizations. It was an honor to have them share their lessons learned and tips for how large organizations address some of the challenges of DevOps: from automated testing for legacy environments, getting leadership buy-in and fostering a DevOps culture, DevOps roles and responsibilities, and security and compliance.
Each of these experts also shared what they will be presenting on at this year’s DevOps Enterprise Summit, taking place October 19–21 in San Francisco.
Chivas Nambiar | Director – Systems Engineering, Verizon
- Attend Chivas’ talk at DOES15: Accelerating Customer Experience Innovation Through DevOps
Heather Mickman | Director, Target
- Attend Heather’s talk at DOES15: (Re)building an Engineering Culture: DevOps at Target
Ralph Loura | CIO, HP Enterprise Group
- Attend Ralph’s talk at DOES15: Breaking Traditional IT Paradigms to Enable True DevOps Capabilities
Neil Manvar | Solutions Architect, Sauce Labs, Inc
- Attend Neil’s talk at DOES15: “The Yahoo! Story”: How Yahoo! Embraced Automated Testing to Improve Business Efficiency Online
Tom Limoncelli | SRE, StackOverFlow.com
- Attend Tom’s talk at DOES15: Radical Ideas Enterprises Can Learn From The Cloud
Anders Wallgren | Chief Technology Officer, Electric Cloud
- Attend Anders’ talk at DOES15: Continuous Delivery of Microservices: Patterns and Processes
Cornelia Davis | Director of platform engineering, Cloud Foundry team at Pivotal
After quick introductions, I summarized the top five problems facing the DevOps community today – which also form the key focus areas for this year’s DevOps Enterprise Summit. At last year’s Summit, I asked that every speaker end their presentation with a slide addressing one of the two following titles: “Here’s what I don’t know how to do” or “Here’s what I’m looking for help with.” We wanted a glimpse into what the top challenges were that the entire community was facing, which we could then use as a research roadmap.
Each speaker shared how their organizations are addressing these challenges, and gave a taste of what to expect from their talk at DevOps Enterprise Summit.
- How to address culture and leadership issues, particularly around transitioning and transformation
Cornelia Davis suggested starting small, perhaps with sending some select members to work on pair programming, then have them return to bring the skills back in-house. “It’s one of the best ways of learning new programming. It’s more of a grassroots process,” elaborated Davis.
Heather Mickman agreed, adding, “We started doing our own internal DevOps Days where we could start building momentum and showing results quickly. To accelerate adoption, we’ve created an internal DevOps dojo to help coach teams on tools and processes.”
Chivas Nambiar suggested, “Find the leader who shares a common belief, who is close to the work and is aware of these types of technology trends. The second piece of it is you can’t do this [transformation] overnight. We’re entering our fourth year of transformation. Find your key partners, give them what they need to be successful, then share their successes.”
When I asked, “How do I get my boss’s boss to care about DevOps?” Ralph Loura listed ways to counteract “corporate antibodies” who doubt and resist change: “The top things you need are trust, trust and trust,” he said. “To create this trust, we provide transparency through collaborative tools and pairing people together; we create and embed evangelists to help the next wave of teams succeed and spread knowledge, and help when something goes wrong; and we need data and evidence of success.
The group discussed the balance of grassroots efforts with getting leadership buy-in, and everyone discussed the value of teams needing to create small successes in order win doubters over. Loura brought up the metaphor of the campfire: “If you start a campfire and you put too much fuel too soon, it can smother the fire. It’s important to keep it shielded at first, until the fire has enough heat to it.”
- How to deal with automated testing issues, specifically for legacy environments
The conversation moved on to experiences we’ve all had with software products or services where we gave development, testing, operations, etc. to a different sourcing partner, thinking we would get better outcomes that way. Heather Mickman shared what the transition was like to go from that model to their current one, “The way we used to do software development in Target was handing off each function to different teams and centers of excellence. There were handoffs to 10–15 different teams. There was no end-to-end accountability for these once-per-quarter releases. So, as we started building out the team that creates APIs for Target, we decided we wanted end-to-end accountability, so we broke down those silos so everyone cares about the end product.” This was just one example of emergent patterns that are coming out of these complex organizations.
- How to address IT security and compliance issues – to get your Security team on board with your DevOps plans
All these presenters are from large organizations who are publicly traded, and have numerous regulatory measures that they must comply with. I wanted to know more about how they work with security and compliance.
Neil Manvar suggested that DevOps practitioners be completely transparent. He says, “Show the security teams the value, so they can get on board and that you’re not just trying to give them a hard time. Give them access to the change log and very nicely format it or link to the commit. Giving more information about what’s going on really helps with getting everyone on board. Any concerns that are raised, kind of create some automation around it and integrate that into the pipeline.”
- What metrics should organizations be using to track their DevOps implementation and performance.
- Organizational design, roles and responsibilities
Holy cow, we didn’t even get around to discussing this last two problem areas. We will be revisiting this and the other problem areas with another group of DevOps experts in another live chat.
When I asked for any concluding remarks with our last two minutes, Tom Limoncelli responded, “Everyone I know who’s been through this kind of transformation has said the same thing. That when you were done, when you looked back, they said ‘I never want to go back to the other way and in fact in future job hunting, the first questions will be do you have this environment?’ Having a DevOps environment can be one of your biggest recruiting tools.”
Join the next live chat:
Friday, September 11
10:00 a.m. PDT
Watch the replay of the video chat:
To hear more from these great speakers and other DevOps luminaries, I invite you to join us at DevOps Enterprise Summit next month.
Learn more and get your pass now at: http://devopsenterprise.io