Ranger4 DevOps Blog

#DevOpsFriday5 with John Rakowski

Posted by Helen Beal on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

It's the Ranger4 #DevOpsFriday5 series - today we will hear from John Rakowski from Forrester. Take it away John!

1) What’s your preferred definition of DevOps?

I love the way this question asks for your ‘preferred’ definition of the DevOps as this highlights a problem that ‘DevOps’ has at the moment – basically that there are so many different definitions of what DevOps means and is all about. It reminds me of Cloud a couple of years ago.

To be honest, the phrase DevOps has become more of a marketing buzzword over the last year. Every vendor I speak to is now jumping on the ‘DevOps’ bandwagon and clients want to ‘implement’ DevOps, hire ‘DevOps’ engineers. It is a clever play on words combining both IT development with IT operations, to work in harmony leading to a world of IT efficiency and value. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? Where do I sign up?

The reality is that DevOps is greater than the sum of its parts. It is firstly about a culture shift – understanding that our world, the products, the services that we consume are increasingly fuelled by technology. Secondly, it’s the realization that for your company to survive and be successful then technology based services, websites and mobile apps are key to engaging and delighting your customers. Thirdly, this means that the whole business has a responsibility to source/design, deliver fit-for-purpose and timely software products and services that delight external customers and also optimize operations internally. This means that if you accept that it’s all about Development and Operations ‘collaborating’ together then you are missing the other parts of the picture. DevOps is about optimizing the full product and services value chain, from the external customers right through to internal IT operations. This means that DevOps requires a shared vision, trust and co-operation between all line of business functions. So as you can see – it’s bigger than just Development and Operations collaborating together.  

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

There are a number of mistakes. Firstly it’s to assume a ‘do’ rather than an ‘adopt’ approach to DevOps. You can’t implement DevOps but you can adopt DevOps. DevOps is a cultural and operational transformation for the organization that everyone needs to be onboard. I see many companies implementing collaboration tools between Development and Operations but this is only small step in successful DevOps and they still have a long way to go. The reality is that this cultural and operational shift has to be supported right from the top of the company, from CEO downwards – if it’s not then many DevOps efforts will run out of steam and I see this as a common mistake. 

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

DevOps requires an outside-in approach. it’s important that organizations realize what DevOps means for them, their industry, their employees and finally their customers. Ultimately this means understanding what value increased agility and a frictionless technology management organization will provide to your customers. If you can articulate this clearly then you have a clear mission, which other parts of the business can rally around. From an IT perspective, the first step is to ignore fancy new DevOps orientated technology solutions and actually get your development and operations professionals to start talking to each other – make this interaction part of their goals.

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

Oh, I love prediction questions! With the rapid pace of technology innovation, it’s always hard to predict the future. But from a high level, I see that the term DevOps will be used less and less. Clients and solution partners will begin to understand that while this term is useful today, it not all encompassing of what needs to be done. DevOps is part of a wider evolution in regards to enterprise IT that includes, Cloud, big data, analytics, software, Agile, business outcomes and ultimately digital. The reality is that all of these areas need to be considered and adopted by technology management leaders. So in 2020 I see more talk that focuses on digital experience delivery and see IT’s role starting to change from one of support to being a driver of commercial success. This will require IT to transform its approach to people, process and technology.

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

In my role I am inundated with information of new solutions, new approaches and customer success stories. The reality is that I receive too many sources of data and information. So I usually turn to Twitter to find new information fast and in a way that I can quickly consume it. I follow a number of prominent DevOps, cloud and ITSM influencers in order to be kept up to date. I also find that LinkedIn can be a great source of information especially if you want to ask a question and get an answer quickly.

John Rakowski Forrester DevOpstasticAbout John:

John serves Infrastructure & Operations Professionals. He has eight years of experience in the technology and consulting industry, with certifications from Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, BMC, and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). At Forrester, his

research focuses on service management strategy, adoption, and implementation. In particular, John helps IT leaders and their teams understand the business value of service management, develop their strategy, evaluate and select vendor tools, and implement service management processes such as ITIL. Additionally, John focuses on the organizational impact of service management and its relationship to broader IT trends such as cloud computing.

Previous Work Experience

Prior to joining Forrester in 2011, John was a solution architect for Fujitsu specializing in enterprise management. He has provided consultancy to a number of organizations in both the public and private sector and across different verticals ranging from the financial sector to not-for-profit charities. Some notable examples of John’s past clients are Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, KPMG, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). He has also been a certified trainer delivering systems management courses on behalf of Microsoft.


Working out of Forrester's London office, John holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in business information technology from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Follow John:

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Topics: DevOpstastic, #DevOpsFriday5, DevOps