Unleashing Value at Fidelity through DevOps

5 min read

By Keith Blizard, SVP Public Cloud Services, Fidelity Investments

When I started my career in technology in the late 1990s, getting work done was a lot tougher than it is today. Even basic things – like provisioning the infrastructure and capacity to do what we needed to do – were a major challenge. That’s why I’m so jealous of the new college grads we hire every year at Fidelity. With the cloud universe at their fingertips, they can unleash their ideas and innovations with practically no limit to capacity or capabilities.

Since joining Fidelity, I’ve been focused on getting the most out of the thousands of engineers we have working across multiple clouds. It’s a challenge that isn’t just about deploying cool technology, but about creating business value from innovation and delivering it to our customers. It’s also about building a culture that drives automation and accountability. It’s also about enabling our engineering talent to have meaningful careers at Fidelity that they enjoy. And with 14,000 developers at Fidelity, we’ve got a lot to be accountable for – and a lot to automate. 

Let me share a few pieces of advice to help smooth your own journey to the multi-cloud.

Don’t be a bottleneck. Sure, you want to enable capabilities like security and compliance, but you don’t want to get caught in the middle of the process, potentially blocking progress. Push innovation as much to the edge as possible and empower users to access all the capabilities available in the multi-cloud. 

Make it simple. The cloud is hard enough as it is, but it’s even harder for companies running multiple public clouds, where complexity can get out of control. I encourage you to think about how you can reduce that complexity and make it easier for developers to go faster. And when you create capabilities and services, make sure you really appeal to developers, so they are naturally “pulled” to use them versus just complying with a mandate. 

Pace over perfection. Accelerating the time to value requires what I call “pace over perfection.” In my world, it always seems like there's a reason not to do something. But the best leaders from a DevOps and agile point of view need to tell their teams, in effect, “let's get something out there.” Let's learn from it and then continue to improve over time. 

Embrace self-service. Self-service is one of the keys to driving value. At Fidelity, there’s no way I could manage a community of 14,000 developers by punching tickets. Our goal is to provide access to everything a developer needs to get going within an hour. I want them to innovate and build and deploy really fast. Self-service, by pushing the accountability to the edge, makes that happen, keeps developers happy and productive.

Security first.  Everybody’s heard of DevSecOps, and at Fidelity we’ve implemented security controls throughout our ecosystem. Remember, though, in a multi-cloud environment those controls – and how you implement them – won’t all be the same. Get comfortable with that but also provide a bridge to help people go from one CSP to the other. Also, try to move most of your security controls to the “front” – that is, as early in the development process. There's nothing worse than running into a security snag just when you’re trying to go live in production.  

Focus on business value. I love metrics, but most people look at them the wrong way. They see measures like uptime and latency as an average across the whole platform. I challenge you to look at metrics from the perspective of individual teams and the business value they’re driving. Moving your focus away from IT-only to business value can be a big cultural change, but I encourage you to make the shift.

Be flexible. If you're a DevOps leader, one of your jobs should be to define where your organization is going – your “true north” – and forge a path to get there. But you need to be flexible along the way. In my career, I've almost never seen a complete straight line from start to finish, where everything goes to plan. Course corrections are perfectly fine as long as you're heading toward your true north.  

Communicate early and often. IT communications is a funny thing. You need to repeat the same idea, the same strategy, the same approach many times – and do it using different channels, formats, and themes. This is really important for new people joining your team and helps them embrace and feel a part of your mission. If you think you're over communicating, you're not. And the move to remote working makes frequent, multichannel communication even more important.

I hope that you’ve found some of this information valuable as you look at your own journey to the multi-cloud. For me, it’s been one of the most exciting experiences I've ever had in my career.

To learn more about Fidelity’s journey to the multi-cloud, listen to Keith’s keynote at CloudBees’ recent event. Financial Services: Future Proofing Your Digital Transformation Strategy.

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