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InfoQ Homepage Podcasts Sanjeev Sharma of IBM on What a DevOps Culture Really Means

Sanjeev Sharma of IBM on What a DevOps Culture Really Means

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In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Sanjeev Sharma, a Distinguished Engineer at IBM, on the challenges for large enterprises adopting DevOps at scale and what it really means to have a DevOps culture.

Key Takeaways

  • There is no single “why” for adopting DevOps – each organisation is unique and the adoption approach should be based around what they are trying to optimize
  • DevOps is not a methodology – it is a set of guiding principles
  • As more and more parts of the business get to the higher levels of maturity you get to DevOps adoption at scale
  • The biggest challenge to adopting DevOps in a large enterprise is overcoming cultural inertia
  • The cultural impact of DevOps needs to be about building trust across silos in the organisation
  • There is a need for DevOps coaches who have skills that go deep into the operations areas, not just rebranded Agile coaches
  • 0:25 Introduction & background
  • 1:12 Sanjeev’s books – DevOps for Dummies and The DevOps Adoption Playbook
  • 2:00 There is no single “why” for adopting DevOps – each organisation is unique and the adoption approach should be based around what they are trying to optimize
  • 2:53 The most common areas that organisations want to optimize for are Time, Cost and Quality 
  • 3:05 Once they understand which areas they want to optimize, then it is possible to select the DevOps practices which fit with their goals
  • 3:15 DevOps is not a methodology – it is a set of guiding principles
  • 3:44 There is no single answer to the “how” to adopt DevOps question – companies are very varied, and the approach needs to be right for the specific organisation
  • 4:27 It is important to identify the maturity level of the individual teams, programs or groups of the organization to select the right set of practices for the right level
  • 5:10 Based on the situation they are in and the goal they want to achieve they can determine which play to run
  • 5:42 As more and more parts of the business get to the higher levels of maturity you get to DevOps adoption at scale
  • 6:05 The executive who asks for an overnight DevOps adoption probably also believes in magic
  • 7:01 The biggest challenge to adopting DevOps in a large enterprise is overcoming cultural inertia
  • 7:35 The way many organisations have structured their IT organisations in silos makes adopting a DevOps culture very difficult
  • 8:18 The reasons for those structures may have been good at the time, but now they have resulted in a culture where nobody takes responsibility for anything but their small piece of work
  • 8:38 There is no shared responsibility across organisation groups
  • 8:48 The cultural impact of DevOps needs to be about building trust across silos in the organisation
  • 9:03 This can only be achieved if everybody who is a part of the value stream feels responsible for the delivery of value overall, not just for their part
  • 9:48 Technology supports the shift, but without the culture change the technology is pointless
  • 10:20 This goes deep into how the organisation works and how people are employed and remunerated
  • 10:44 People respond to how they are measured
  • 11:20 The story of the “Everybody is responsible for delivering code to production” T-shirt
  • 12:32 One of the techniques to change how people are measured is to improve visibility
  • 13:02 Making the impact of work visible moves the needle towards shared responsibility
  • 13:28 Techniques to improve visibility across the whole organisation
  • 14:15 Introduce tools that support visibility and collaboration
  • 14:52 The impact on employment practices
  • 14:56 The team or company is only as good as the people who work there
  • 16:14 It all boils down to trust and communication in the team
  • 19:20 Trust and collaboration is a top-down imperative – lead by example
  • 17:40 DevOps and Agile are different implementations of the same mindset
  • 17:52 Everything goes back to the core lean principles
  • 18:27 The reason we have evolved from Agile to DevOps is because typically Agile implementations did not include the operations side
  • 19:05 The fundamental questions of DevOps is “how do I get this to production more effectively?”
  • 19:48 Agile fell short by not focusing on the feedback loop from the customer back to the development teams
  • 21:48 The danger of practice adoption without the deep respect for people and understanding the intent behind the practice
  • 22:20 Dictatorial edicts about practice adoption are a problem
  • 23:00 The value of the Agile Coach role in bringing the intent and humanistic viewpoint to the practices
  • 23:20 DevOps needs coaches too – it’s not about adopting the practices, and it needs people to guide from the principles perspective
  • 23:28 Even a pattern of success can be an anti-pattern if applied in the wrong situation
  • 24:08 It’s important to understand what the current level of maturity is, and the teams’ ability to absorb change – and adapt your approach to that context
  • 24:44 The need for DevOps coaches who have the depth of skills that go deep into the operations aspects
  • 25:38 Going beyond Agile and DevOps to Business Agility
  • 25:57 You cannot be an Agile business without an Agile IT organisation, but making your IT Agile does not make you an Agile Business
  • 26:18 The story of the end to end value stream from idea to implementation at a large insurance company
  • 27:34 We need to identify where the waste is in the value stream and don’t optimize one area without looking at the whole end-to-end flow
  • 28:12 This requires culture change across the whole organisation which is much harder than just inside an IT department
  • 28:32 Companies understand that they are being disrupted so there is an appetite for change, however cultural inertia makes it hard  
  • 29:38 How this has played out for IBM as they transform from a company which delivers traditional software to a company which delivers cloud and cognitive services
  • 30:10 Every company says they are becoming more agile and investing in new capabilities – those who make it will be the ones who do it right, and not just go through the motions

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