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Interview with Caroline Emmins and John Owen

IBM software engineers: “We needed to be more agile”

JAX Editorial Team
Caroline Emmins and John Owen

Do you need to transform your business, deliver faster and better? Confused by all the buzz words and hype or how any of it can help you or your teams? We talked to JAX DevOps speakers Caroline Emmins and John Owen about how IBM changed its relationship with development from “them and us” to a collaborative DevOps partnership.

In this interview, Caroline Emmins, a senior software engineer at IBM‘s UK Development Lab, and John Owen, a software engineer with a focus on DevOps, Agile and software development technologies, speakers at the upcoming JAX DevOps, are talking about what IBM learned after changing its relationship with development from “them and us” to a collaborative DevOps partnership and the rewards they are reaping. 

JAXenter: Devs versus Ops – a constant war between divergent forces. Not in your company! How did you manage to go from a culture of “them and us” to a collaborative DevOps partnership?

Caroline Emmins, John Owen: It’s a journey, one where you need to continually build trust and mutual respect. Recognizing that a symbiotic relationship exists between development and ourselves meant that we could collaborate on how to make the best of this relationship. After all, if we could understand each other’s viewpoint we would be able to deliver a better overall result.  We also knew that to create a closer partnership with development we needed to work more like them and also understand everything that we had committed to provide them. In essence we were saying that we needed to be more agile.

JAXenter: What triggered your decision to completely change your relationship with development?

Caroline Emmins, John Owen: Our development teams were transforming to respond rapidly to changing customer needs.  As the Central IT provider supporting them, we needed to be equally responsive and really understand their priorities both within a team and across all the teams we supported. A closer relationship with those teams was the only way to achieve this.

JAXenter: How much of your DevOps success story would you attribute to cultural/communication alterations, and how much to tools?

Caroline Emmins, John Owen: In our opinion, both play their part.  Bringing people together changed how they communicated and saw each other’s worlds. Each team brought different things to the party. Together we built better solutions than we would have separately.  The new tools changed our thinking, sparked ideas and drove a totally new approach to our problems.

JAXenter: You are taking “development to the clouds” – what’s your experience with cloud computing? How does it help you?

Caroline Emmins, John Owen: It’s a game changer for our team.  We are still at the start of our journey with cloud, and are already seeing the benefits. The dynamic and elastic nature of clouds means development teams are no long constrained to specific static setups. Instead, teams can vary volume and types of systems from minute to minute, to match their needs at any given time without the burden of maintaining 100s of machines.

[Cloud computing] is a game changer for our team.

JAXenter: Why should companies follow in your footsteps and focus on developing a collaborative DevOps partnership? What are the immediate perks?

Caroline Emmins, John Owen: For us, DevOps is an extension of agile which recognizes all the roles, resources and services required to achieve a common goal.  We believe DevOps is the best way for businesses like ours to deliver a faster return on investment to our customers. The mix of people it brings together leads to more innovative approaches.  Plus, it’s fun!

JAXenter: What is the key message of your session at JAX DevOps that every participant should retain after visiting your talk?

Caroline Emmins, John Owen: DevOps really works; if you haven’t started already, try it for yourself.  You won’t look back.

Thank you very much!

Caroline Emmins and John Owen will be delivering one talk at JAX DevOps which will focus on how how IBM changed its relationship with development from “them and us” to a collaborative DevOps partnership.

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