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InfoQ Homepage News DevOps Dojo Provides Online, Interactive DevOps Training

DevOps Dojo Provides Online, Interactive DevOps Training

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DXC Technology has recently open-sourced their DevOps Dojo, a collection of learning modules that covers both the technical and cultural aspects of DevOps. The modules are built on the Katacoda platform and hosted on GitHub.

The initial modules cover topics including version control, continuous integration, and shifting left on security. The modules use a fictitious pet clinic along with a number of characters to leverage storytelling as a learning mechanism. The modules provide an interactive, step-by-step instruction based experience. However, they are structured to allow for exploration off-script to encourage further learning.

InfoQ sat down with Olivier Jacques, distinguished technologist at DXC Technology, to discuss the project in more detail.

InfoQ: What inspired the creation of this dojo?

Olivier Jacques: Back in 2014, we were on a journey to transform our IT organization, and DevOps was the means by which we were hoping to make great progress. Like many, we started with a set of light in-house applications which we wanted to transform first. Some were business critical, with each hour of unavailability leading to millions of dollars of revenue loss.

We quickly came up to a point where we realized that we needed to re-skill the people in the teams who have been working on these applications. But it was not only about training; it was also about supporting the DevOps transformation with hands-on DevOps coaches. We created a tiny DevOps enablement team for that.

Fast forward a few months later, I was attending the DevOps Enterprise Summit conference in 2015, where we were invited to share our DevOps transformation journey. This is the first time I heard about the DevOps Dojo from the retailer Target with Heather Mickman and Ross Clanton. We connected afterwards, and this is how we created our own flavor of a DevOps Dojo. Our first version was entirely a face-to-face, transformational experience but we found we had to scale this to more people and customers. This led us to create this online add-on to our DevOps Dojo.

However, we did not want to do simple, boring webinars. We wanted to guide the learners, but give a lot of freedom to explore and get out of the script. We chose the Katacoda platform which allows us to create hands-on labs, accessible directly from a web browser. The content of the modules is mostly based on the Accelerate book, which has practices scientifically connected to business outcomes.

InfoQ: You mention that the modules are "informed by research on how people learn". Can you elaborate on that research?

Jacques: Education is obviously a very important topic, and an area of constant evolution. Most recently, curfews, quarantines and similar restrictions have turned the education system completely upside down. If we take this tectonic shift and combine the work from earlier research such as How People Learn, we come up with a set of very interesting tactics when it comes to learning DevOps practices.

Online learning becomes a must. We need to be really good at embracing all of the online techniques, not only videos and quizzes, but also hands on labs to learn at your own pace and remote coaching sessions when you get stuck.

We also want to take people from where they are now, their story, to where they should be next. Many kinds of learning require transforming existing understanding. This is why we use storytelling techniques with characters for each role: these characters, often a caricature of their role, help to explain what is changing for you and take the learning home.

InfoQ: How do you see people integrating this into their DevOps transformation?

Jacques: The Online DevOps Dojos are very interesting to understand how key DevOps patterns actually work. Not only have 23,000 DXC employees leveraged these Online DevOps Dojos, but customers and partners of ours. We have had great feedback from people who got their "a-ha" moment while following and practicing in one of the training modules.

I see multiple ways people are integrating the Online DevOps Dojos. One can be to just go through the modules to learn techniques they have not learned from previous work assignments or when just getting out of school. As these trainings are open source, another way is to convert modules to cover the use of other tools which will match their actual tool chain better.

InfoQ: What led to choosing the initial five modules?

Jacques: The first five modules are really a subset of 16 modules we already have. Within that collection, about half of them are cultural modules and the other half focused on putting the principles into practice, with tools like GitHub, Jenkins and Artifactory. We chose the initial set of modules so that we can introduce the story, the team, and their pipeline. It creates a core which we can build upon; the first chapters of a bigger story.

InfoQ: Are there plans to add more modules in the future? What's on the roadmap?

Jacques: We have more modules available which we have developed using an innersource model that we could release in the coming months. We are also looking to get feedback from the community on what to release next.

But the Online DevOps Dojo project is not only about releasing material which was already developed. It is also about building the community to create more modules around DevOps practices. We believe that the software industry can truly benefit from such a project.

So, this is a call to action to join us and help us build more content leveraging open source practices.

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