What happened at the 2018 DevOps Enterprise Summit?

DevOpsGroup at DevOps Enterprise SummitOver 750 technologists, business executives and academics recently packed into London’s O2 Intercontinental Hotel to attend the annual DevOps Enterprise Summit.

Having taken place on June 25th and 26th, the event was an opportunity for organisations and professionals from different backgrounds to immerse themselves in the latest trends, methodologies and practices surrounding DevOps, digital transformation, cloud and agile working.

Tech giants such as Microsoft, Amazon and IBM conducted and led a variety of keynotes, panels, breakouts and community discussions to ignite conversation about this exciting and constantly evolving industry.

The sponsors were equally influential, with the roster including the likes of DevOpsGroup, Github, Redhat, Atlassian, Puppet, and DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA). DevOps Enterprise Summit was also a media hotspot, with Computer Weekly, DevOps.com, Tech Beacon and InfoQ in attendance.

The 2018 event was filled with thought-provoking topics such as fostering DevOps culture, accelerating software development, getting the most out of big data and enabling organisational change. Overall, delegates were encouraged to share their experiences and learn from each other at the same time. We list some of the standout talks.

The importance of data

Dr Nicole Forsgren, who is co-founder, CEO and chief scientist of DevOps Research and Assessment, was a key speaker at the summit. She spoke about how organisations and technologists can become high performers by understanding and implementing the mechanics of big data.

Citing the State of DevOps Report, Forsgren argued that high-performing IT teams outperform their peers and that everyone can benefit from utilising data in their daily roles. Her view is that all employees should view themselves as transformational leaders and help bring their organisations forward in today’s interconnected world.

To do this, Forsgren urged the audience to set measurable outcomes, develop realistic goals for the entire team, drive performance improvements using technological and non-technological resources, and share and draw on diverse experience.

Practically, how can you do this? Forsgren recommends evangelising data internally; focusing on the teams you influence; establishing seed communities to accelerate growth; using communities and learning to spearhead organisational change; utilising resources across silos; and supporting meet-ups and hack days both internally and externally.

Disney magic

Disney is not only churning out multibillion pound entertainment franchises, but it’s also cultivating a workplace dominated by technology and agile ways of working. The company’s director of systems engineering, Jason Cox, and senior production engineer, Jim Vann, detailed this journey in a keynote talk.

Titled Creating Digital Magic at Disney, it attracted a lot of interest from the attendees. Cox and Vann explained that the firm is boosting productivity by using DevOps practices; by investing in technologies such as cloud hosting, containers and service platforms; by implementing continuous learning; and by using communities of practice. However, perhaps more importantly, they said firms need to have courage and take risks regularly – while creating digital transformation initiatives that are simple and balanced.

Combining people and innovation

Representing American tech giant Microsoft, Jeffrey Snover – technical fellow and chief architect for Azure Storage and Cloud Edge – was another potent keynote speaker. Having joined Microsoft in 1999, Jeffrey developed automation engine Windows PowerShell and has since played a crucial role in developing the firm’s cloud offerings.

At DOES, he discussed ways in which businesses and IT teams can thrive through transition and get the most out of digital transformation initiatives. Snover’s belief is that organisations can only achieve these things by investing in people and technology – including cloud and automation. Businesses should always be striving to develop unique products to stay ahead of the curve, and they shouldn’t be afraid of change. The latter, of course, is inevitable.

DevOps isn’t a hobby

In the modern world, it’s apparent that technology plays a fundamental role in the daily running of businesses, although DevOps and agile practices can further accelerate productivity. The question is, however, how can companies and IT teams embark on such a journey? A lot of it comes down to mindset.

That was the argument of Verizon’s John Scott, Oliver Cantor and Sanjeev Jain, who have helped the American telecoms giant leverage DevOps practices to unlock new revenue streams. They said companies and technologists shouldn’t view DevOps as a hobby, but instead as a revolutionary way to work and make more money.

The trio revealed that Verizon has been using a combination of dojos, squads, DevOps days and DevOps Cups to transform daily operations and said other companies can easily mirror this success by thinking out of the box. To adopt DevOps and become truly agile, businesses must focus on implementation, integration, visualisation and individual team metrics.

Visualisation techniques

A big part of fostering a DevOps culture is visualising the entire workflow to ensure teams can collaborate effectively. Dominica DeGrandis, director of digital transformation at Tasktop and a Kanban expert, dedicated an entire talk to this topic.

Her view is that businesses can only improve DevOps implementation and influence others by putting visualisation techniques at the forefront of operations. As a result, companies can then see and measure problems that could hamper productivity and stop people from delivering work on time. DeGrandis expressed the importance of using software and cloud tools to optimise the value stream, too. 

Scaling DevOps and agile working

Jennifer Wood, head of performance and business management at the Royal Bank of Scotland, discussed the journey the banking giant has taken to implement a DevOps and agile working culture.

The consensus of her talk was that everyone – including business leaders, employees, investors and customers – can benefit from agile working methodologies. In the workplace, they’re helping teams to work at speed. Like Verizon, she doesn’t view DevOps as just the implementation of new tools, but a journey that should involve every stakeholder.

For agile and DevOps methods to work, she argued that learning must be ongoing and perpetual. By adopting this mindset, Jennifer believes that firms can deliver better value for customers, employees and partners.

IT is the lynchpin of business

Clearly, technology has benefits for organisations across the globe, but Mark Schwartz – an enterprise strategist at Amazon Web Services and the former CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Services – goes further by suggesting that IT should control every aspect of the business world.

Speaking about this at DOES, Schwartz dismissed the idea that business operations teams need to provide technologists with requirements to build and maintain products. Things, he believes, should be the other way around: IT teams must be responsible for creating and distributing strategies on a company-wide basis.

Businesses, Schwartz said, need to shift this mentality in order to move fast and remain relevant today. That’s not an easy task, but key decision makers can herald in an era of change by focusing more attention on IT and ensuring it’s not treated as a contractor.

The CIO should have the same level of power and prestige as the CFO and COO, he continued. Occupants of this position should play a dominant role in creating and implementing company strategies, while being responsible for the quality and agility of business assets.

For yet another year, the DevOps Enterprise Summit turned out to be an insightful and thrilling experience for the technology community. And there’s no doubt that the 2019 event will be even bigger and better.

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