JAX London interview

Vinita Rathi on DevOps and the technical challenges at Goldman Sachs

Coman Hamilton
vinita rathi architecture
Vinita Rathi at the JAX London (photo: S&S Media / Katura Jensen)

After her session at the JAX London, we spoke to former Goldman Sachs vice president Vinita Rathi about the company’s DevOps approach and the delay problems faced by programmers in large companies.

JAXenter: One interesting fact you mentioned in your session was that at Goldman Sachs there was a four-month application time to get server space. Isn’t that a massive problem for a large company?

Vinita Rathi: It is. Our usual strategy was to apply for more. If we needed one server this year we would usually apply for two so that we have an additional server. And the next time we need more capacity we would apply again in advance. So, more than impacting our capability to rollout to the users, I think it was a waste of infrastructure because we tried to apply for more servers, which meant we always had servers we were not using to their full capacity. And I think that’s something that could have been improved. It wasn’t really a bottleneck to us, just because we had this buffer of servers.

I think what Goldman Sachs has done since is they have moved all their servers to the cloud. And with all the provisioning processes they have now in place, it’s not easier in comparison to what it used to be. However, the old servers are still there. There’s still some legacy stuff still there. And Goldman has always been a pioneer in this, so they always tried to move ahead and move fast. So they are working on this and they know it’s a problem. So even while I was there, there were trying to sort it out.

We’ve heard of people talking about DevOps it means using less tools while others think it means IT operations doing more developer work. Would you agree with those views?

I don’t really. I personally feel the boundaries between operations and developers are really getting thin. And I see it as developers doing more operations tasks, rather than the other way round. And developers hate doing that. But, you know, it’s the developers who know their infrastructure best, who know their code best.

So I personally feel it gets handled better while using these DevOps tools that are out there for developers. But then some people don’t like configuring servers. Some people don’t like installing packages. Some people don’t like deploying all these different tools. Developers sometimes tend to have this habit of only fixing stuff when it breaks.

Would you then sympathise with the common concern that developers are being forced to take on more responsibilities?

I like it. The more work you do, the better you’ll be. You get to learn more stuff. Until now, we used to live in a space where all you do is write your code, you test, and you put it on your repository. And then the rest of the work (taking that code, deploying it in production, giving it out to the users) was done by someone else. Now you get the visibility of how that’s happening – which to me is quite handy. It’s a good thing to have.

What do you think is the biggest challenge about DevOps then for developers?

The cultural difference. Just thinking about the fact that you need to manage a server, that’s a big mindset change that developers witness. And I think that’s the most difficult thing to struggle with.

Coman Hamilton
Coman was Editor of at S&S Media Group. He has a master's degree in cultural studies and has written and edited content for numerous news, tech and culture websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies.

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