Interview with Sacha Labourey, CEO and Founder of CloudBees

The post-DevOps evolution – “SDM is to software delivery what CRM is to sales”

Dominik Mohilo
© Shutterstock / tj-rabbit

When your DevOps setup has become a great success, you might start to notice that the silos you thought you’d broken down are starting to reappear simply because of how difficult it is to keep everyone heading for the same goal when the terrain is constantly changing. Software delivery management is the way to get to grips with this. We spoke to Sacha Labourey about this and much more.

JAXenter: Hi Sacha, our last interview was a while ago, I’m happy that it worked out again! We talked about the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF) in May, can you give us a little update on what’s been going on there since then?

Sacha: The activity is really great! We have 33 member companies, a jump of 43% since the launch, a mix of vendors and users, such as Google, Salesforce, HSBC, Netflix, Autodesk, Alibaba Cloud, etc. The various committees have also been formed and the current four projects of the CDF – Jenkins, Jenkins X, Spinnaker and Tekton – are getting great contributions.

Seven months after launch, CDF has completed initial bootstrapping and has set the early foundations. It has defined nine strategic goals for 2019/2020, including driving continuous delivery adoption, cultivating the growth of projects and fostering tool interoperability.

The next big meeting for the community will take place in Early December in Lisbon, for DevOps World | Jenkins World Europe. I’ll be there obviously!

JAXenter: At the CloudBees Days in Frankfurt you talked about the future of CI/CD and the keyword Software Delivery Management (SDM). What does that mean?

Cloud, containers, CI/CD and DevOps are now the new normal.

Sacha: SDM can be seen as the natural evolution in the adoption of CI/CD in organizations. Companies that adopt CI/CD do so to streamline the development of new products in a cross-functional way and to remove silos. This is all great initially, but as this adoption widens, each team and product kind of gets a silo of their own! Imagine organizations ramping up their CD practices, moving from yearly or quarterly releases to multiple releases a week or a day, changes flying across the organization at all times.

As an organization, how can you make sure that this amazing frenzy, one you fought hard to obtain, satisfies your core policies and constraints, and all this without reducing this great velocity? How can you get teams to collaborate despite that constant stream of changes? As a developer, how do you make sure your next hour will be the most impactful to the business? What is the most essential thing you should be unlocking? Those are absolutely key asks and yet, they are extremely hard to extract from this boiling ocean of changes.

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SDM is a layer above CI/CD, and it captures the signals, all of the signals, of all tools involved in software delivery and stores them in a normalized DevOps data model (which you can also query and build upon through SDM “applications”) and connects it to the rest of the business. In doing so, it can perform an in-depth analysis of where you can have the most impact and can coordinate different parts of the business.

SDM is essentially what you discover you need once you’ve been successful with your CI/CD roll-out!

JAXenter: That sounds very complex. How can companies and projects switch to SDM and what hurdles will they face?

Sacha: It is actually very simple, as SDM is not replacing any part of your business; it is being deployed “on-top” and registers with your various tools (Git repository, issue tracker, CI/CD engine, APM, etc.) and consumes their signals. It is a very iterative approach.

I can totally understand how SDM might feel very abstract to a lot of people at this stage in our industry, but the same was true decades ago when CRM and ERP emerged and they are now in every organization around the world. SDM brings to software delivery what CRM brings to sales and ERP to finance.

JAXenter: CloudBees open sources many of its tools. Will the suite also be available as open source for covering the entire software delivery management? What tools are included?

Sacha: Our plans are currently not to open source the SDM foundation. A number of “applications”, which are modules that CloudBees, customers, and partners can deploy on top of the platform, will definitively be.

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JAXenter: You also mentioned in your presentation that “DevOps” is not really a modern term anymore. Why?

As a CIO, you don’t get fired for doing CI/CD, you get fired for not doing CI/CD.

Sacha: We are witnessing an extremely fast adoption of some key practices and technologies that radically challenge the way we have been doing things to date, from DevOps to containers, CI/CD, and the cloud. What’s impressive to me is how fast things have moved from a place where you had to justify those changes, explain why you wanted to disrupt the status quo, to a place where the status quo is what needs to be justified. Cloud, containers, CI/CD and DevOps are now the new normal. As a CIO, you don’t get fired for doing CI/CD, you get fired for not doing CI/CD.

JAXenter: How will “DevOps” develop in the coming year, which ideas and technologies will have the greatest influence in this area?

Sacha: What we are clearly observing is the adoption in organizations of a “backbone” of very few technologies that are being used across the entire organizations and shared by all teams and products. They tend to be code repositories (Git), issue trackers (à la JIRA), and CI/CD (à la Jenkins). Around that, there is much less standardization and a lot of great innovation, and companies value the freedom to integrate innovative solutions to their backbone to satisfy development teams.

Similarly, we are seeing a great desire by organizations to build a backbone that’s “hybrid”, that can modernize existing applications as well as participate in their journey to the cloud, to multiple clouds.

Thanks very much!

Dominik Mohilo
Dominik Mohilo studied German and sociology at the Frankfurt University, and works at S&S Media since 2015.

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