3 Takeaways from DevOpsDays Austin 2014

I recently attended DevOpsDays Austin 2014 and was very impressed by the event as a whole. The conference format provides a great medium for the attendees. The combination of thought leadership and technical presentation tracks along with Open Space discussions and Ignite talks, makes the two day event both informative and very interactive. Here are my three key takeaways from the event:

1. DevOps culture is still a big topic of discussion. Tools are a great enabler, but as the opening keynote speaker Andrew Clay Shafer (@littleidea), says in his post presentation interview, you can’t buy DevOps. In Andrew’s opening keynote presentation, he shows how different languages and tribal signaling leads to disconnects in both business and technical organizations.

Culture was another discussion point in the Enterprise DevOps open spaces I attended. There was a great discussion on how to get teams, organizations and management buy in. Whether you drive cultural change from the top down or bottom up, it is all about the people. Tools can influence behavior and help change culture, but “peopleware” is just as important as software. Clearly, this is a big topic that needs further discussion. In fact, we featuring Mandi Walls from Chef at our next DevOps Drive-in talking about this very subject.

2. Enterprise DevOps still lacks maturity. We need to continue developing the “how:” the patterns and best practices of DevOps for the Enterprise. Matt Ray (@mattray) provided a very good maturity lifecycle in his presentation “Helping Horses Become Unicorns.” He covered topics such as hardware management, OS management, infrastructure management, software deployments, incident management and even disaster recovery and postmortems, stressing both business and cultural issues. His assertion is that it is possible to transform a horse into a unicorn. I would say that enterprises don’t even need to become a unicorn. A faster, stronger horse FTW!

3. DevOps has not yet crossed the chasm but it’s getting a big push. Michael Cote (@cote) from 451 Research delivered a good presentation on “When is the DevOps Unicorn Going to Sprout Wings and Fly.” Cote mentions that over the next 10 years, mobile and cloud will initiate a massive rewrite or re-platform of applications, and that is demanding a new way of delivering software (DevOps). Cote reviewed the results of a 451 Research DevOps survey that gives a good view into the maturity of mainstream IT. His reference about white collar toolchains (e.g., Word and Excel) that don’t use version control rings so true. What I found particularly interesting is that almost 40% of the companies surveyed said that the one thing preventing them from reducing cycle times is human resource constraints. I think delivering on the DevOps principles (CAMS) would help with this constraint because the high performing organizations that I’ve seen are doing more with less and not more with more.

DevOpsDays is a great event organized around trying to solve a real hard and present problem. If you are involved with deploying or releasing software from development to production, I recommend you head to your local DevOpsDays event to see what the tip of the spear looks like. And, for a special event, join Serena at the special 5th anniversary of the founding of DevOpsDays in October in Belgium. It’s also the 5th anniversary of the first use of the term “DevOps,” selected as the hashtag for that first event by legend Patrick Debois.

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