Ranger4 DevOps Blog

#DevOpsFriday5 with Benjamin Wootton

Posted by Helen Beal on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 @ 10:11 am

It's the Ranger4 #DevOpsFriday5 series - today's contributor is Benjamin Wootton. He's DevOpstastic!

1) What’s your preferred definition of DevOps?

Developers are from Mars, Operations are from Venus, bringing a legacy of different cultures, tools, approaches, skillsets, incentives etc. DevOps is about bringing these two different worlds together and getting them more closely aligned. This includes getting them focussing in on the same goals, giving them common skills, approaches and tools, getting them adopting best practice from each other and working together to reduce delivery cycle time whilst maintaining quality. The big driver behind DevOps is the need for speed. The typical IT organisation has turned into a safe pair of hands, with a big focus on rigour and stability and a heavyweight, process driven approach. Nowadays, organisations have to get faster and leaner in how they bring software to market. DevOps has the answer for achieving that - breaking down siloes and process and moving towards a more agile, collaborative model for building and running software. 

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

Organisations often don't approach DevOps holistically enough. They set up a DevOps team or focus too much on automation without looking at business change and collaboration aspects. I actually don't think these initiatives are a bad thing - DevOps Engineers as a job title is fine with me and DevOps Teams are often a positive initiative too. (I used to say DevOps Teams were a big mistake, but experience has shown me some very high performing DevOps teams creating a huge amounts of business value.) I just think you are missing a lot of the benefits if you don't look at it more holistically and try to break down this Dev/Ops silo in other, more substantial ways. A second mistake I see people make is not investing strongly in the right initiatives to make DevOps happen - both from a people and a re-platforming perspective. I expand on this more in the next question!

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

A key thing is to bring in the right people with this mindset and approach. DevOps profiles have broad, generalist, T-Shaped skills - people who can work with their business and across the IT function to deliver business value. From a technical perspective, DevOps engineers will bring skills such as infrastructure and release automation and a deep understanding of both good software operations and good software development. The challenge with this is that there is a skills crisis in this space. The education and IT industry are not delivering enough people with the right DevOps skillset and mindset. To combat this, organisations need to pay extremely competitive salaries or commit to training their own people towards this way of working. This may mean a 2x increase over traditional market salaries or significant bootcamp style training and coaching to grow their own. This can be a big investment, but case studies that we have looked at have shown a 4x-6x increase in productivity within teams comprised of these individuals. 

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

Maybe the word DevOps will cease to exist and it will just be business as usual by then. Enterprise organisations simply have to get faster at shipping software, and DevOps approaches (flat structures, polyskilled engineers, product aligned cross functionals teams) seem like the tool of choice for getting there. On the platform side, infrastructure is obviously going to be much more virtualised and programmable so agile infrastructure managed as code should also be well established by 2020. 

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

I really enjoy talking to real businesses who are faced with the challenge of getting their software to market faster. Some of those businesses aren't as sexy as Facebook, Etsy or Google, but are genuinely committed to moving to a faster, leaner application delivery in spite of their legacy challenges. I keep meeting very traditional businesses who have a surprising degree of commitment to initiatives such as cloud, open source, continuous delivery and DevOps. Its exciting times with these businesses as transformation is very much in the air and bureaucratic process is being torn down and thrown in the bin at a remarkable rate. 

Benjamin WoottonAbout Ben

Co-Founder of Contino, a professional services firm that help enterprise organsiations adopt DevOps tools, practices and approaches

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Topics: DevOpstastic, #DevOpsFriday5, DevOps