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Overheard at CloudBees Connect: The Reality of Delivering Modern Software

Written by: Brian Dawson

5 min read

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What’s it like delivering modern software today? We posed that question to eight DevOps leaders from a diverse range of industries and development organizations. They were all participants in panel discussions I moderated at CloudBees Connect – held virtually this year. Needless to say, there were no short answers to our questions, but here’s a sampling of some key issues they’re focused on. 

  • Balancing speed with security, compliance and quality. DevOps leaders say they constantly wrestle with getting the best of both worlds. Many err on the side of caution, but also take advantage of automation to embed security safeguards throughout the lifecycle without diminishing speed. “We want to empower our customers and our engineers, but we need to delight our auditors,” says Jennifer Hansen, director of product management and delivery experience at Capital One.

  • Standardization versus empowerment. You need both to thrive in today’s environment, panelists say. “The key is to find that sweet spot between maintaining a structure that your organization needs and giving developers the freedom to drive innovation,” says Daniel Ritchie, distinguished engineer at Broadridge Financial Solutions. Some standardization is helpful, and many programs have adopted common patterns and core toolsets to boost efficiency, but not at the expense of best in class tools that the developers want to use most.

Sanmat Jhanjhari, lead DevOps engineer, Nationwide Building Society agrees. “Nationwide believes in empowering people and creating an environment that you have [what we call] accountable freedom…that's one of the key pillars of [our] leadership framework.” 

“We really want them to be involved in the pipeline construction and to tell us what they need rather than for us to describe or define what they should be doing,” says Bob Kelley, director of delivery engineering, IHG.

  • Culture not tools. People and culture – more so than tools – are the key to building great software for customers. That’s why continued learning and skills development is a prime focus of Capital One’s Hansen. “We’re trying to create a shared experience and responsibility across everybody on our team.”

  • Scaling up. Organizations large and small need headroom to grow. Even smaller companies are preparing for the day they’ll need broad-reaching capabilities. Says Adam Robertson, head of DevOps at Pinger: “We’re building the foundational elements so we’re ready when we reach enterprise scale.”

  • Embracing the future. Leaders say they are enthusiastically embracing the latest development approaches and technologies, including microservices architectures and containerization in the cloud. 

  • Winning over management. Convincing C-suite execs that DevOps is worth the investment can be tough. Jimmy McNamara, software engineering product manager at Fidelity Investments, says the best way to overcome resistance is to “use data to show real outcomes. It’s about articulating a vision of value and demonstrating that in a very tangible way.”

  • Driving collaboration. Leaders have adopted different techniques for promoting collaboration among developers. Some have created open source communities within the company, complete with templates and global libraries, to help developers contribute code and allow other teams to benefit from the contributions. 

  • Move slow so you can move fast. Leaders say the best way to build momentum across teams is to first establish a consensus, so everyone has shared ownership and feels empowered at the same time. That may take time, they say, but if you invest upfront, you're going to reap returns faster, longer and better later. “Instead of dictating to teams, we need to create consensus up front,” says Aoife Fitzmaurice, architect for enterprise cloud computing at Fidelity Investments. “If a certain choice wasn’t correct, let’s work together to make the right choice.”

  • Harvesting best practices. The diversity of practices across engineering teams can be a strength to development organizations, Fidelity’s McNamara says. DevOps can serve as a “central consultancy” that can “harvest their best practices” to empower the whole organization. 

What else is on the minds of DevOps leaders today? Listen to both panel discussions - captured in the award-winning CloudBees podcast, DevOps Radio, to dig deeper into the reality of delivering modern software today:

  • Episode 73: Live from CloudBees Connect - The Reality of Delivering Modern Software: Part 1 Listen Now

  • Episode 74: Live from CloudBees Connect- The Reality of Delivering Modern Software: Part 2 Listen Now

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