Ranger4 DevOps Blog

#DevOpsFriday5 with John Harris

Posted by Helen Beal on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 @ 10:09 am

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

1) What’s your preferred definition of DevOps?

My one-liner would be 'Development and operations collaborating to enable the enterprise to rapidly respond to changing business requirements in a safer and more repeatable way.'  

This pretty much defines Continuous Delivery as well and I'm happy for either to be used interchangeably (as they have the same goals at heart).

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

I've certainly seen the usual answer here, which is customers renaming an existing team to be the 'DevOps' team. Then getting them to automate their current processes (which are often broken). This points to an under-appreciation of the core concept of DevOps (collaboration) and seeks to 'fix' current under-analysed enterprise process by just making it go faster.

Honourable mention here goes to not having a set of success criteria and metrics in place to measure their evolving processes. The overarching goal of DevOps is to enable the business to hit its changing goals by facilitating faster feedback loops. It's important that companies measure everything around their deliveries both from an internal (process development) and external (delivering customer and business value) viewpoint. 

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

For me there are several keys:

  • Observe the current delivery process and identify bottlenecks
  • Start small (find a pilot project / product)
  • Get the buy-in
  • Learn every day 

The first point is important as it's tempting to rename a team, buy some tools set them loose without thinking about what you should actually be doing or how you can improve business agility. Sitting back can be hard to do but observing / measuring the current process can alert you to issues you may not have realised existed (or the extent of their effect).

Pick a project where it's possible to deliver fairly rapid business benefit while keeping your business exposure low-risk. This will go a long way to helping with the buy-in. Everyone from C-level down needs to be involved in the process of developing and releasing a product so it's essential that everyone is on-board for the journey. 

With a wide range of stakeholders it's difficult to balance everyone's opinions, although regular checkpoints to observe and learn as much as you can about the implementation of new processes and culture change are essential. This is heavily tied into the Build-Measure-Learn (Ries) and Plan-Do-Study-Act (Deming) feedback loop theories.

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

As businesses compete to release better quality products faster then DevOps will become the norm for software delivery. I hope that this expansion also means that companies embrace the core principle of cross-team collaboration and that this enhances the work experience as teams come together to improve output and become more invested in quality across the organisation.

The tech geek in me wants to say that we'll have self-learning and self-healing systems that are capable of automatically analysing processes and business goals and adjusting on-the-fly for optimum output, although I'm not sure if this increased automation and machine-learning goes against my hopes for collaboration so I'm conflicted on this one!

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

Some good stuff on Twitter (love the medium and keep telling myself I need to tweet more!) in no particular order:

Dan Berg, Eric MinickGene Kim, Sanjeev SharmaAlex Papadimoulis, Bob Aiello, Jez Humble & Martin Fowler

Some great LinkedIn groups out there (for DevOps and for specific tools). Some blogs I like as well (covering varying amounts of DevOps content, but all good stuff):

John Harris

About John

John has been leading DevOps initiatives at enterprise change consultancy LeftShift for around 2 years. Lucky enough to travel a lot meeting great people and enabling businesses to recognise opportunities for process optimisation and increasing quality across the lifecycle. 

John is also an experienced SME for IBM's quality software suite (Rational Test Workbench and Virtualization Server) and has designed and implemented testing and virtualization solutions for multiple Fortune 500 companies across high-value, high-risk industries (finance, healthcare, airlines, etc...).

John can often be found fighting the urge to solve every problem with a few lines of python code

Follow John:

On His Twitter & LeftShitIT's Twitter
On His website
On His LinkedIn
& LeftShiftIT's LinkedIn 

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Topics: DevOpstastic, #DevOpsFriday5, DevOps