“DevOps is a three-legged stool” — Key takeaways from DevOpsCon

Gabriela Motroc
Greg Bledsoe's opening keynote at DevOpsCon 2016

Greg Bledsoe, Managing Consultant at Accenture, emphasized in his opening keynote at DevOpsCon that one of the most important rules for DevOps success is to make sure that culture comes first. He taught the audience how to change the organizational culture and identified a handful of obstacles to DevOps. We had a lot to learn from the likes of John Willis and Damon Edwards so let’s take a look at the key takeaways from DevOpsCon.

When it comes to doing DevOps, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. There were a lot of lessons learned and tips offered at DevOpsCon; Greg Bledsoe, Managing Consultant at Accenture, told the audience that DevOps is magic (compared to what we used to do) and John Willis, ‎Director of Ecosystem Development at Docker, Inc, advised them to focus on the human capital. In short, there’s one golden rule to DevOps: “The culture must come first.”

Obstacles and solutions to DevOps success

Greg Bledsoe, Managing Consultant at Accenture, revealed that the obstacles to DevOps are cultural, organizational and technical but he also identified the solutions, namely people, process, and tools. He concluded that DevOps means lean software delivery and revealed that companies fail to do DevOps when the people do not share the same goal. To align incentives, hierarchical silos must collapse and early feedback must be offered. Plus, he claimed that DevOps fails when people resist learning and stick to the oh-so-familiar convention “it’s what we’ve always done.” Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 1.52.35 PM

It may not be easy to change a culture but it can be done. All you have to do is identify your allies, bring in the evangelists, create a groundswell of demand (offer demonstrations, tell success stories), create the awareness of bimodal IT (legacy vs. modern IT) and measure the business value.

According to Greg Bledsoe, doing DevOps means eliminating waste (all the aspects that do not add value or the ones that cost time and friction); tearing down the wall between Devs and Ops is just the first step.

“DevOps is a three-legged stool”

John Willis, Director of Ecosystem Development at Docker, Inc, talked about the conventional wisdom, namely that one can only choose two of the following things: fast, good, and cheap. DevOps changed that and proved that one can have them all. He compared DevOps to a three-legged stool and identified the three legs as lean, safety culture and learning organization. When DevOps is applied correctly, human capital becomes high-performance organizational capital.

During the container panel, John Willis also predicted that serverless will continue to grow and declared “this OpenStack thing” dead.

Turn continuous improvement into an enterprise program

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 2.00.35 PMDamon Edwards, co-founder and Chief Product Officer of SimplifyOps, opined that silos pull any organization out of alignment and concluded that one can turn continuous improvement (Kaizen) into an enterprise program via the following elements: efforts must be aligned, scaling must occur quickly, one should work with legacy technologies and the organization should be uplifted in mass. 

Continuous improvement refers to the total engagement of the workforce and implies that small changes should be valued just as much as large changes. DevOps Kaizen occurs when wastes, inefficiencies and bottlenecks are identified and improvement storyboards are created.

5 tips for DevOps success

Helen Beal, head of DevOps at Ranger4, said in her DevOpsCon session that DevOps can start anywhere and emphasized that in order to turn DevOps into reality, one should increase engagement with the rest of the business. To avoid creating yet another silo (and going against the idea of DevOps), one should rename teams and resist the temptation to create DevOps teams, especially since one should focus on roles and not on job titles (it’s all about putting people in the correct roles).

She also offered a few tips for DevOps success:

  • Tip #1: Identify or self-identify (as) a change leader
  • Tip #2: Assemble your A-team
  • Tip #3: Gain executive support
  • Tip #4: Experiment
  • Tip #5: Celebrate and showcase (tell people about it)

Helen Beal concluded that transparency walks hand in hand with collaboration because those who refuse to collaborate and prefer to keep things under wraps hinder transparency.

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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