Interview with Zubin Irani, CEO of cPrime

“DevOps is a critical step to achieving full agility”

Gabriela Motroc
Zubin Irani

Do agile and DevOps really go hand in hand in the real world? Can an agile transition be considered successful without DevOps? What do we need to understand about agile and DevOps? These are just a few questions that have remained unanswered. We talked to Zubin Irani, CEO at cPrime, a full-service consultancy that implements agile transformations and delivers agile solutions, about the importance of agile in today’s tech environment and what it means to be fully agile.

JAXenter: Is agile critical to attracting millennial engineers?

Zubin Irani: Companies are ultimately trying to deliver business results, innovate faster and better, at the same time attract talent and keep workforce engaged.  Since millennial developers make up a growing portion of the tech workforce and are the first generation that has grown up with technology since before they could walk, it’s important to be able to attract and retain these folks. It’s also an attractive approach for other generations as well, but with millennials, agile speaks louder to their desire to know why they are building something, to know why it’s important, to be able to contribute to what they are doing, and share ideas.  Basically, the traditional command and control approach that Waterfall encourages is exactly how millennials don’t want to work.  They are socially connected, they grew up in groups and teams, they’d rather collaborate than compete.

DevOps is about breaking down the walls between development and operations.

The book Drive, by Daniel Pink, talks about the new way of working and appeals to humans.  What motivates us?  Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. An agile mindset and process go hand in hand with what motivates millennials and humans in general.  It is beyond millennial.

JAXenter: What are three things business users need to understand about agile and DevOps to get the enterprise apps and updates they need?

Zubin Irani: It’s a commitment.  Commitment (time and money) to be actively engaged all the way through dev & test.

Understand that this is a journey.  It takes time and the teams will fail and grow organically.  Everyone talks about the necessity for cultural changes, but it’s equally important to treat tools and processes as a unified solution which is complex and requires more time and money.

This is a very different way to work at every level.  You cannot simply replace a tool with a new tool, or replace an old process with a new process, this is a fundamental shift in how we think about working together, how even at the lowest level of source code management we branch and merge our code differently, and this affects management and executives and team members alike — anyone who doesn’t believe so will learn this lesson the hard way.

You don’t just buy DevOps. 

JAXenter: What do business users need to understand about DevOps?

Zubin Irani: Just as agile is about breaking down walls between the business and technology groups of a company, DevOps is about breaking down the walls between development and operations within an organization.

DevOps is a critical step to achieving full agility. To work in small sprints and truly deliver production ready code that can actually be shipped to production, you need dev & ops working together with automation technology and DevOps processes integrated and optimized.

It’s not a just a tool.  A tool is a means.  You don’t just buy DevOps.  It is a culture of breaking down barriers and people collaborating.  It is a natural extension of agile really through the whole value stream of software delivery.  A redefinition of how teams work together and are structured.  It’s weaving tools, teams and processes tightly together.

JAXenter: Is agile breaking into the hardware space? 

Zubin Irani: Yes — limited but gaining traction every single day.  For example, 3-D printing, augmented reality.  More hardware companies are becoming both hardware and software companies, so we are helping more hardware companies figure out how to build hardware and software together in an agile way.

JAXenter: Can an agile transition be considered successful without DevOps?

Zubin Irani: It depends on the objectives and key results the organization desires in a certain timeframe.  It is a journey so once you’ve transitioned to agile upstream in your software lifecycle, you’re going to hit bottlenecks downstream when you deploy.  This must be an optimization of the entire system, not a sub-optimization.  With DevOps you’re going to expand the software feedback loop so feedback / value is delivered even faster.

When my clients ask this question, I tell them the agile transition is a journey, and DevOps is usually an important part of the journey.

SEE ALSO: How Spotify does Agile

JAXenter: What are the advantages of applying agile principles to mobile app development? 

Zubin Irani: Desktop / Mobile have the same advantages. But the nature of mobile app business ecosystem / user expectations is directly aligned with agile principles.  The speed and nature of mobile has been driving agile adoption in many organizations, and are often the first groups to be leveraging agile principles.

The importance of quality in mobile is significantly higher than in desktop/web applications, and that’s another key agile principle that appeals to mobile; users will not tolerate bugs or mobile apps not working, so you must really put the emphasis on quality.

JAXenter: How can we get developers and testers on the same page?

Zubin Irani: Use Scrum. Make sure that their systems and incentives are aligned as one team.  Ensure that the tools they are using are fully integrated and transparent. Consistently reinforce the concept of one team from top management to individual contributors. Win as one. Lose as one.

Thank you very much!

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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