From Silos to Services: Cloud Computing for the Enterprise

Jan 24 2015   12:21PM GMT

DevOps is a Reorg, Takes 6-12 Months

Brian Gracely Brian Gracely Profile: Brian Gracely


lighthouseFrom time to time, I’ll link to episodes of the podcast that reinforce some of the topics discussed on the blog. If nothing else, it saves me a bunch of time transcribing some of the more interesting learning. But we recently did a show with Adrian Cockcroft (@adrianco), currently a VC at Battery Ventures and formerly the Cloud Architect at Netflix. That show was so full of great insight that some of the quotes need to be directly brought over to the blog.

  • “DevOps is a re-org. It takes 6-12 months to happen. Mobile apps often lead the change.”
  • “The mobile team deploys to the AppStore, so they can bypass Ops.”
  • “Part of Docker’s success was because they weren’t threatening (at first).”
  • “Look at the SaaS ecosystems that can be build around open-source company technology.”

If you’re a CIO and you read the blog headline, you might be scared off from anything to do with DevOps. ReOrgs are typically not fun, and who knows if 6-12 months is an accurate timeline to make the changes necessary to be able to respond faster to the business. So what do you do?

Here’s a tip that we’ve learned in creating the EMC {code} team. Start small, and give them enough time to really focus on accelerating the learning curve.

What does this mean in reality?

Our team is very small, and by their own admittance (here, here, here), they didn’t start off as great hackers/coders/DevOps people. Some decent scripting skills, some basic experience working with APIs. Nothing that screams 10X ENGINEER!! But they had a few basic things that could help any group trying to evolve their DevOps capabilities:

  • Strong Levels of Curiosity – wanting to learn new things and solve problems with those new skills (just pick a program idea)
  • Dedicated Time to Learn the Skills – this is now their primary job

In just a few months of dedicated focus, I can clearly say that their learning curve across a bunch of these DevOps technologies has increased significantly. And not just on one tool or language, but a bunch of them. It’s as if the process of learning has been simplified. They are building small, loosely coupled projects that will significantly reshape how EMC will LEARN|CODE|DEPLOY technology in the future and interact with customer/partner DevOps teams. And along the way, they are learning the process needed to be successful in a world where there should be new, visible output every week, instead of taking many months.

This is something CIOs could do within their teams as well. Yes, it would require that you carve out some resources to be more dedicated. And it would require that those accelerating their learning should be responsible for giving back knowledge to the broader team. But this is how successful reorgs work – create a lighthouse, show what’s possible, and then attempt to make the lighthouse model the new normal. It creates a flywheel – early learning, teaching, new learning, sharing, new learning.

And DevOps is not just for the cool start-ups in Silicon Valley anymore.

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