DevOps Enterprise Summit 2017 preview: Organizations go all-in

When more than 1,300 IT leaders of large, complex organizations implementing DevOps principles and practices descend on San Francisco to attend the fourth annual DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES), the focus will be on building on success and fostering organization-wide collaboration.

The event, with its more than 100 sessions, will emphasize the still-evolving technical and architectural practices in DevOps, as well as the methods needed to lead widespread change efforts in large organizations. The objective is to give IT leaders the tools and practices they need to develop and deploy secure, quality software faster so they can better compete in the market.

With many enterprises heading to DOES for the fourth year in a row, the buzz is all about tracking progress, said Gene Kim, author, researcher, and founder of DOES producer IT Revolution. 

“We invite speakers across multiple years to give us annual updates on their journeys. We had some speakers coming back every year to give us updates. I just love that, because it’s like we’re documentary filmmakers following these people on their journeys.”
Gene Kim

This year DevOps leaders are building on their successes by scaling their efforts, DevOps strategies are becoming more widely adopted in the enterprise and executives in all areas of the business are more interested in collaborating with IT.

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DevOps is now an organization-wide phenomenon

One thing that may be ahead for the people who are driving the digital transformations of their organizations is more recognition for jobs well done.

“These people are getting promoted,” Kim said. “The organizations see so much value in what they’ve been doing that they’re being put in roles where they’re being asked to make even larger contributions to their organizations.”

Today DevOps is being driven by all parts of the organization. Whether it’s dev or ops or architecture or even information security, these leaders are coming from all business units. Kim stressed that it’s no longer dev versus ops.

“What I’m excited about is that we have a category of talks that I’ve never seen before—technology and business executives speaking together, showing how they have a mutually collaborative, mutually supporting relationship.”
—Gene Kim 

[ Special coverage: DevOps Enterprise Summit 2017 ]

For example, in the session “Better Governance—Banking on Continuous Delivery,” Capital One's Jennifer Brady, technology governance director, and Tapabrata “Topo” Pal, senior director and senior engineering fellow, will talk about how Pal has helped create value for the company.

“They’ll talk about how Topo made Jennifer’s life easier by making sure that compliance is never on the radar screen of regulators,” Kim said. “The fact that they’re going to be presenting together and that she’s going to be talking about what Topo is doing for her is phenomenal.”

Pal said that while implementing continuous delivery pipelines, regulated enterprises struggle with some unique constraints around audit and other regulatory and compliance requirements.

“We will discuss how we see these constraints and how we have developed a model that allows for these constraints to be optimized,” Pal said. “We will share how we are implementing the model in an automated way and discuss some exciting results.”

One of the objections that DevOps practitioners often hear is that security and compliance are in the way, Kim said, “But here’s an example where security and compliance are presenting with a DevOps champion."

So with more than 100 sessions in play, which others should be on your must-attend list? Here are 10 more you should not miss.

1. Turning the battleship: A principled approach to driving change in DoD IT

Kurt Hockaday, data systems tech lead for the Department of Defense's Joint Warfare Analysis Center, will discuss doing DevOps for the DoD. He’ll share lessons learned—and forgotten—as well as successes and mistakes made as the DoD tries to provide faster, more accurate options to the nation’s war fighters. 

“We’re a nation that’s been at war for 17 years, and here’s an amazing story of how this DevOps approach has helped a very special agency achieve its mission, which helps make the world a safer place and helps the war fighter in the field,” Kim said.

2. The making of Amazon Prime Now

Tisson Mathew led the team that built and operated the Amazon logistics technology platform that powers Amazon Prime Now, Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Flex.

“Any person who thinks that life is easy when you’re at a Google, Amazon, or Facebook needs to hear this presentation about having to deal with 300 independent teams that don’t really care at all about what Tisson Mathew wants to do,” Kim said. Mathew will talk about how he succeeded despite initial cultural indifference.

3. Two amazing mainframe DevOps transformation case studies

David Rizzo, vice president for product development at Compuware, and Rosalind Radcliffe, chief architect DevOps, for enterprise systems at IBM, will discuss how they are bringing DevOps practices to their flagship mainframe products.

“The average age of the developers on their teams is 27. Some are fresh out of college and have never seen a mainframe before,” Kim said. “This is something that every engineering leader needs to know about to show that there are segments of the enterprise that they probably haven’t approached with these DevOps practices, but they should know that it is possible.”

4. The Skype journey to 1ES and cloud

Jennifer Perret, principal group program manager for Microsoft's Azure Infrastructure Engineering group, and Sam Guckenheimer, product owner with the Visual Studio team services at Microsoft, will talk about the migration of the Skype group to the cloud. 

“They’ll discuss moving to Git as a version-control system and all the challenges that they had to overcome,” Kim said. “Any engineering leader who has to talk about elevating best practices runs into the Git problem, because Git scares people, including myself. And here’s a bunch of world-class engineers who have the same problem as the rest of us.”

5. Fear does not exist in the dojo: A DevOps journey with a competitive twist

Nanda Kumar, a fellow at Verizon global technology services, and Ross Clanton, director and fellow for technology transformation at Verizon, will discuss the telecommunications carrier's continuing DevOps transformation.

“Our focus will be on how we’re leveraging a global dojo model and how we’re leveraging gamification to drive DevOps maturity through a program we call the DevOps Cup,” Clanton said.

Run across multiple Verizon lines of business, the DevOps Cup offers incentives to teams that follow good DevOps practices. Teams accumulate points throughout the year for activities that demonstrate good engineering practices and leverage good architecture patterns, and for participating in collaboration/culture-related opportunities such as hackathons.

“At the end of the year, the top teams compete in a tournament where we bring in judges, the teams demo their practices, and the winning team gets a trophy that looks like the Stanley Cup. It’s a fun way to drive a little competition and engage teams in improving how they do software delivery.”
Ross Clanton

6. Transformational leadership: Beyond the research

Steve Mayner, senior consultant at Scaled Agile, will consider why some agile and DevOps transformations succeed while others fail. “I'll discuss why transformational leadership behaviors are so important and how one company achieved turnaround business results by developing its own transformational leadership training program,” Mayner said.

7. Augmenting the organization for DevOps

KeyBank's Stephanie Gillespie, senior vice president and head of digital channel technology, and John Rzeszotarski, director of continuous delivery, will recap year two of the bank's DevOps journey, which has been all about scaling out its initial success.

Gillespie and Rzeszotarski will answer such questions as: How do large organizations that typically get in their own way persevere? How do grassroots initiatives become enterprise strategy? How does a bank where online reliability and reputation are table stakes become one of the first financial services organization to run its production digital applications on Kubernetes?

“We will go over the steps that Key took to accomplish moving fast in a typically very slow industry, including inspiration found from thought leaders, developing a plan, selling it to the executive team, and scaling it across the enterprise,” Rzeszotarski said.

8. Using DevOps to build your learning organization

How did Columbia Sportswear build a learning organization and embrace continuous improvement to spark its journey? Scott Nasello, senior manager of platforms and systems engineering, will give the blow-by-blow account.

"You don’t need a blank check or a dedicated team to start your DevOps journey; in fact, you likely already have what you need to get started."
Scott Nasello

Although his experience has been in a Microsoft-centric enterprise, many of the tactics, tools, and processes are inspired by the open-source tradition, he noted.

9. The human factor: Inspiring the pursuit of success and averting drift into failure

As a former airline pilot, Sidney Dekker, author and a professor at Griffith University, knows a thing or two about failure. Contrary to what DevOps teams might think, larger error histories can be indicative of lower failure rates, not the other way around, and people are not the weak links in otherwise well-functioning systems. Rather, people are critical to the discovery and development of pathways to success—despite organizational, managerial and operational obstacles, goal conflicts, and resource constraints.

“People are not your problem. They are your problem solvers. Don’t try to reduce their errors, but understand how they create success, how they actually get stuff done for you.”
Sidney Dekker

10. What does it mean to lead IT?

"The literature on IT leadership does not concern itself with today’s advances in agility and DevOps, and the agile and DevOps worlds do not seem to talk much about what they expect IT leaders to be doing," said author and former CIO Mark Schwartz, recapping highlights from his recently released book, A Seat at the Table.

“Mark’s book is probably one of the most important for technology leaders,” Kim said. “The vision he paints is impossible to argue—that increasingly the distinction between the technology leader and the business leader is disappearing, and it has significant implications on technology leadership.”

For more on what these DevOps leaders have to say, visit the upcoming DevOps Enterprise Summit 2017 in San Francisco.

[ Special coverage: DevOps Enterprise Summit 2017 ]

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Topics: DevOps