Ranger4 DevOps Blog

#DevOpsFriday5 with Jonny Wooldridge

Posted by Helen Beal on Fri, Jun 13, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

Welcome to the Ranger4 #DevOpsFriday5 series - today we will hear from Jonny Wooldridge. Take it away Jonny!

1) What’s your preferred definition of DevOps?

DevOps is a movement that has come about due to the realisation in the industry that there has to be a better way to build and release software, particularly in the web space where there is a growing urgency to ship software ever faster.

Whilst the introduction of Agile methodologies has resulted in software development teams being able to produce smaller increments of shippable software, the bottleneck moved further down the chain to the Ops Teams who were responsible for actually shipping the software. Throwing code over the fence was no longer acceptable in this new world.

DevOps for me is a movement to align development and operations teams around the business goals and drive excellence across the whole software delivery lifecycle.

The real benefit to your business is being able to shorten the time taken to get new features out to your customers. To do this well you have to look at each component that makes up your application, understand their dependencies and the pace at which changes to any of them can be pushed through your environments.

2) When people ‘do’ DevOps, what’s the most common mistake you see them make?

Becoming masters of software delivery is cited in recent research as one of the key concerns of the average CEO over and above competition from rivals. Yet the most common mistake I see is that organisations are not taking excellence in software delivery seriously enough. It therefore follows that they are not taking DevOps seriously enough either. Perhaps it is because, unlike Agile where there are specific prescriptive methodologies and frameworks to get your teeth into, DevOps is less prescriptive and actually requires a lot more thinking and strategy to get right.

If you consider the analogy that the processes and tools to build, deploy, test and ship code to be machines within a code factory, no other industry would put up with factory processes that are so antiquated and manual.

For the record, the worst mistake I have seen is a team badged as ‘DevOps’ who were acting as a proxy between Developers and Operations people, in effect making the collaboration between Dev and Ops even worse than before!

3) How do you recommend an organisation new to DevOps start?

First understand what you want to get out of it. Be very clear what your own definition of DevOps is and make sure you start small.

Plan your attack: It may be boring but you need a plan and to define clear goals explaining the benefits of a DevOps approach in the enterprise. What is your definition and how exactly will that be the game changer? Spell out the benefits but also create a sense of urgency as moving to a better software engineering approach in your enterprise is non-negotiable.

Keep it simple: There will be a lot of people who will not have even a basic understanding of the steps required to make great software. They may have had experience in the past of a bit of coding or might have some understanding of Ops but assume that they know nothing. Knowing a little bit from ten years ago is actually worse than knowing nothing so be sure to explain how the industry has moved on.

Show it working…: You can have all the PowerPoint presentations in the world describing your approach and the benefits it will bring but in an enterprise people won’t get it until you show something actually working. Choose an application that they are familiar with. 

… and supplement with diagrams and animations:  People in the enterprise are less likely to get excited by the latest scripting platform, test automation tool or cloud service! That is until they realise what benefits it has for them or their team. Show it in pictures and compare and contrast old ways of working.

Make it clear that you care: In an enterprise you will find that if you clearly articulate that you care that software engineering is done well and can prove how ultimately it will make the organisation run better other teams will soon start to come to you for thought leadership.

4) What’s your prediction for what DevOps will look like in 2020?

Often in Agile books there is a warning that the introduction of Scrum or Lean or the next funky methodology will eventually expose any organisational dysfunction that is in place. Team silos need to be knocked down, organisational org charts redrawn, roles refocused, added or removed driven. This is all driven by the fact that suddenly it is more visible that impediments exist within the software delivery lifecycle.

My prediction over the next five or so years is that further widespread rollout of DevOps culture, behaviours and tooling and the resulting need for greater software delivery efficiency will result in even more organisational dysfunctions being exposed but this time the impact will be greater than that seen with Agile development because its remit is wider to cover the whole software lifecycle.

What is the CIO to do when DevOps principles require a change to the current IT organisational structure which has been in place for years? How will Finance react to the greater level of operational expenditure need to support a web infrastructure that is essentially being rented from cloud providers? If you thought the introduction of Agile was disruptive to the average company or enterprise, hold on to your seat whilst DevOps steps forward.

Old IT ways of working just don’t cut it in the DevOps world of lean process and best practice.

 5) Where do you like to go to get a DevOps hit? 

Jonny WooldridgeAbout Jonny:

I’ve been working in E-commerce in London since 1998. I lived and breathed the .com boom ‘n bust years as coder/team lead whilst at lastminute.com. I went on to work at various other (large) start-ups (opodo.com, photobox.com), heading up engineering teams of various sizes. For the past three years I've been at M&S and am Head of Web Engineering. I also have a DevOps team focusing on enterprise DevOps challenges - some people think a DevOps team in itself is an anti-pattern. I disagree (in an enterprise)

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Topics: DevOpstastic, #DevOpsFriday5, DevOps