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Inner-Sourcing as Catalyst for DevOps Transformation at Verizon

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At the 2018 DevOps Enterprise Summit in Las Vegas, architect Josh Stone and product manager Jacklyn Damiano presented how Verizon accelerated their digital transformation at scale and how they radically transformed their culture to maintain their market leader position.

After successfully adopting DevOps practices within various divisions, Verizon needed to design and implement an enterprise scaling strategy to address complex, yet common, challenges: large presence of developers with various skills in dozens of locations, multiple lines of businesses, brown and green field applications and regulatory compliance. Verizon focused on three key areas: the migration onto the public cloud, which required they modernize their technologies and transform their culture to speed innovation.

Verizon targeted to move almost 30,000 workloads to the cloud among which 20,000 will be completed by the end of 2019 and combined this effort with the modernization of their DevOps technologies and infrastructure. They first invested in their API transformation by creating an Apigee API gateway and a Developer Portal and by creating a catalog of capabilities available to all IT and business customers. This multi-year digital transformation roadmap included changing their Platform as a Service (PaaS) strategy with the adoption of Docker, Kubernetes and serverless Function as a Service (FaaS). Verizon is now pursuing an aggressive serverless computing model while transitioning from commercial software consumers to open source contributors.

Verizon also invested in transforming to a culture of inner-sourcing based on open source principles and best practices, such as participation, rapid prototyping, community and meritocracy. Inner-sourcing allowed teams to promote transparency, re-use and enable innovation. Through these empowering practices, Verizon democratized and accelerated their technology decision making. Verizon’s IT formed various communities of practices, chapters and guilds across fifteen business units. Concurrently, they invested in their developers and engineers growth and created in-house AWS and containers certification programs. More than 1500 engineers took the AWS training and more than 500 engineers enrolled in the new container program.

Inner-sourcing and the communities brought the developers from across the enterprise together, allowing them to share their knowledge and best practices, breaking down technical and code siloes, which quickly enhanced creativity and innovation. Given they shared their knowledge and ideas, solved cross domains and divisional problems, projects and releases benefited in greater quality while saving time and effort.

The transition to a participative inner-sourcing culture faced challenges that Verizon needed to mitigate for. The main risks were the scope of the change considering the large enterprise scale, combined with a change saturation impacting at times the teams' level of engagement. One of the most critical challenges was to sell the case for slowing down execution in order to be able to modernize their technology to delivery more efficiently. Through continuous engagement, empowerment and transparency, Verizon fostered a culture of open source, inner-source, community and collaboration that was highly appealing to their engineers. Today, according to Stone and Damiano, “Verizon is delivering more value and faster than ever before.”

In an article published in August 2018, Ashley Wolf, open source relations at Verizon, describes how Oath, the media division of Verizon, adopted open source and how they transferred open source values and practices within the organization and developed their own inner-sourcing program.

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