‘New Concepts for a New Era:’ Sacha Labourey Talks DevOps World and the Future of Software

Written by: Kara Phelps
5 min read
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DevOps World is approaching fast, and CloudBees recently announced the full agenda for 2021. The annual conference will take place Sept. 28-30, and is virtual and free to register and attend.

This year, DevOps World will have more than 130 speakers and 65 hours of sessions across six unique tracks. Whether you want to learn more as a leader, practitioner or community member, we have something for everyone. You can also find tracks covering verticals such as financial services and government.  If you’re interested, registration is easy. The sessions will feature speakers from organizations like American Family Insurance, AWS, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Carnegie Mellon University, Cisco, DevOps Institute, DZ BANK, Elastic, IBM, MongoDB, Red Hat, SAP, Slack, Snyk, Sonatype, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Internal Revenue Service and VMWare. 

CloudBees’ founder and chief strategy officer Sacha Labourey sat down with an editor to talk about this year’s DevOps World, the next phase of growth for CloudBees and the long haul that is digital transformation. Here are a few highlights of the chat, which has been edited for length and clarity.

CloudBees is 11 years old now. What can we see from you in the next 11 years?

Sacha Labourey: When we talk to customers, we’ve found a couple of interesting points. On the one hand, they want to keep their freedom to use new tools. There’s constant innovation taking place in DevOps, and that’s great. But, at the same time, the same people will tell you there is an overdose of information. Too many things. It feels like when you bought a computer back in 2000 or 2005 from Dell or Gateway. You would have 15 things pre-installed on your computer and you would start it up and they would blink all over the place. It’s a familiar feeling, right? Because every vendor is trying to grab the attention of developers, and they want to exist right in developers’ faces. So you end up in this shift left mode where everyone is saying, “Hey, Mr. or Ms. Developer, keep thinking about observability and security and compliance and we have to shift left.” But let’s not forget that developers also have to code from time to time!

So I think it’s very important for a platform vendor to enable an ecosystem to empower those tools to live up to their full potential. But at the same time, you need to put developers in the zone where they can really focus and only see what matters—not just a tsunami of signals and messages. This is where we’re going as a company, and we’ll have an opportunity to share more about that in the next few months.

Do you think the whole movement to shift left has become mainstream, or is it still just emerging?

Sacha Labourey: I think it’s a given that if you want to fix things, you need to do it earlier than when you look at the rocket exploding in the sky and say, “Hmm, we should have done things differently.” 

Shifting left just means you try to fix it before you launch it. It makes a lot of sense, but with the caveat that you don’t want to create an overdose of signals and so on. You want to keep developers in the zone, and that’s, for us, a key message.

You need to think in the context of the ecosystem. You’re starting to see situations where, on one hand, organizations want to step up, try new tools and make sure that they're better guarded against attack. But if it comes at the cost of just an explosion of notifications, that just doesn’t work. That’s what platform vendors have to step up and solve.

Let’s talk about DevOps World. What can we expect to see there? 

Sacha Labourey: Every year, we look to what’s happening in our field to set the tone. 

You used to have relatively big teams making releases every so often, maybe once a year, and pushing to production at a regular pace. Now, what you see is that you have a lot of micro-teams focused on the features. They not only release extremely frequently, it might be multiple times a day, and they release in parallel. So, you might have dozens of teams releasing bits and pieces of an application at the same time, and they don’t care about the others, because they want to run experiments.

And then they push this to just a few users, a few real-life customers in production, because that’s where they want to experiment. So, essentially, you don’t have one production anymore. You have multiple universes with each a slightly different copy of your environment. 

We need new concepts for a new era of extreme velocity and parallel experimentation—and we need a system that can handle that. Digital transformation is a long journey. There is no unique path, and so we’re here to work on that journey with our customers and partners and make that happen.

At DevOps World, whether you’re an executive, a manager or a practitioner, whether you’re in shared services or engineering, you’re going to find the right track that focuses on your needs, and you'll have companies coming up and explaining what they’ve done. You’re going to find open source projects, too. It’s really multi-faceted. You cannot not learn if you attend.

To listen to the full interview, check out The New Stack Makers podcast. To learn more about DevOps World and to register, visit devopsworld.com.

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