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November 17, 2016
Impressions from DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES) 2016
By: Mirco Hering
Devops Summit 
And now it’s over again, the annual DevOps Family gathering a.k.a. DevOps Enterprise Summit. Another year goes by and we were able to check-in with some of our favorite DevOps leaders and got to know some new family members. The event was full of energy and as every year, I am trying to summarize what I have seen.
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First of all, some overall trends of things I heard coming up again and again:

  • Attracting people: The DevOps space continues to be a hot spot and we are all competing for rare talent in this space. I think the transformational nature makes it harder to find the right people who have the right technical skills and the right mindset to be in continuous change along the journey

  • Platforms as an enabler and answer to the team structure question: At the first DOES the discussion about “DevOps teams” was still heated; should you or should you not have a dedicated team. Having an internal platform team to run and operate the DevOps platform seems to be the most common solution. The idea that the platform provides self-service capabilities to the product teams and uses this to abstract away the org structure problem was mentioned several times.

  • Open Source / Open IP: More companies are now talking about open sourcing some of their tooling, including Accenture. This is a good sign for an industry that too long has focused on internal IP. I think DevOps has done great things to open IT up for sharing and providing an ecosystem where we all work together on the big challenges ahead of us.

Let’s look at some of the highlight talks below:

Heather Mickman from Target
We got to check-in with Heather Mickman from Target, to see how she has progressed. It was widely seen as one of the best talks of the conference. Some gems of this talk were:

  • How speaking externally about what Target has been doing, has enabled them to attract talent

  • How they moved more work in-house to control the culture and outcomes better

  • How they build their own platform to manage public and private cloud platforms

  • Key metrics she uses are: Number of incidents / deployment and the onboarding time

  • Heather pretty much addressed all the 3 main themes I mentioned above

Scott Prugh from CSG
Another favorite of previous years provided an update on their journey and what a more Ops focused view looks like. The numbers he mentioned are still impressive, with 10x quality and half the time to market achieved through the adoption of DevOps. Their deployment quality is close to perfect with near zero incidents post deployment (same metric that Heather mentioned). And he also highlighted the self-service platform as key enabler. Another aspect I liked was his focus on automated reporting and making work visible. His colleague Erica than brought the phoenix project to life by comparing her world to the book. I love this.

Ben and Susanna from American Airlines
I am writing this summary while waiting for my 17-hour delayed AA flight, so I assume there is still some room for improvement on the DevOps front. Their talk focused on the “opportunities” provided by the merger of two airlines and what to do with two very different stacks initially and how to slowly merged them. They also highlighted the common challenge with test automation and how to measure success with DevOps. It feels better but how do we really measure it?

Gene and John’s fireside chat
I mean what can you say about this one…it was fascinating and a geek-out for all of us. So many threads to follow, it felt like Alice in Wonderland for DevOps guys. When you watch this in replay you will feel the urge to buy books and keep googling things. Hold your fire and buy the Beyond the Phoenix project audiobook when it comes out. I surely will!

Mark Schwartz on business value
Mark Schwarz was back and spoke about his book. A great exploration of the concept of business value. He did not provide the answer, but some interesting things to consider:

  • ROI misses the point—profit is a fiction, flexibility and agility and options are not reflected

  • ROI does not easily work to derive decisions, too far away or too much work

  • Not each item in the backlog can feasibly be assigned a value

  • It is so important to have a conversation about business value to decide how Agile teams will use it to derive priorities

Keith Pleas from Accenture
Another exploratory talk about the Automation of Automation. How we focus our attention to automate applications, but are we using the same ideas for our own DevOps architecture. Like Gene and Johns talk, there were many breadcrumb trails to follow with this one. Accenture has also open sourced it’s DevOps platform, which you can find here: http://accenture.github.io/adop-docker-compose/ . The main themes of Open IP, Platform teams and attracting talent were hit on by Keith.

There were so many, more great talks, check them out when the recordings are available. I will choose a few more quick highlights below:

  • Pivotal’s talk added the product orientation as organizational mechanism to the discussion on platform teams.

  • My good friend Sam Guckenheimer from Microsoft had the guts to do a live demo on stage, which worked out really well and show some very interesting insights into Microsoft’s developer platform.

  • Carmen DeArdo from Nationwide had one of the best slides in the conference in my view. I really like the cycle transformation picture, what do you think?
    Devops Summit

  • Topo Pal from CaptialOne had some of the best nuggets at the conference:
    o “It takes an army to manage a pipeline”
    o 16 gates of quality or as he calls it, 10 commandments in Hex

  • We had a really good introduction to Site Reliability Engineering by David Blank-Edelmann and the concepts of Error budgets, Blameless post mortems and much more. He also phrased that “You can’t fire your way to reliability” and that maturity models should be there to determine the right help, not to punish someone.

Best thing, of course, are the hallway talks, the opportunity to talk to old friends and to make new friends. Another great event gone by.

See you all at DOES 17—November 13-15, 2017—back in San Francisco. I will be there and will look forward to meet you all there. Come join us at the family gathering next year!

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