DevOps starts with culture, process and people - not tools

Penny Horwood
clock • 2 min read
Rana Bhattacharya at DevOps Live

Rana Bhattacharya at DevOps Live

Coverage from Computing DevOps Live

Yesterday saw the welcome return of DevOps Live as an in-person event in London, bringing together many senior and highly influential DevOps practitioners and leaders from throughout the UK to explore the issues shaping DevOps now and those likely to do so in the years to come.

Rana Bhattacharya, Chief Digital & Information Office at Cynergy Bank delivered the day's keynote on what businesses of all stages of maturity stood to gain from DevOps, and how those businesses could best sidestep some of the most commonly encountered challenges.

Bhattacharya's experience of leadership in organisations such as Tesco Bank, Atom Bank and Nationwide has inculcated strong understanding of cloud native organisations as well as those carrying considerably more legacy, He begun by emphasising that really, if enterprises are to compete, then a DevOps culture and the agility it entails isn't really optional.

"It's about bringing new ideas to market very fast, learning from launching new products and new features into the marketplace quickly, and adapting to feedback. If you can't do this, you've got massive competitive disadvantage," he said.

Bhattacharya talked through the elements of what DevOps success looks like, emphasising the important of parity across development, staging/testing, and production environments. Optimizing performance and security is easier when the test pipeline can most accurately anticipate the conditions that applications will face in production.

Infrastructure-as-code can drive immense value, as well as enhanced security and speed of delivery, but Battacharya cautioned against over emphasis on tooling.

"DevOps ultimately isn't just about the tooling it's about processes and people," he said. "Recognising that is key to getting the best value out of it."

One of the common barriers I've seen is when organisations embark on a DevOps initiative focusing on the tools that they need and it then turns into a technology initiative."

Of course this can then cause months of delays or longer as budgets are negotiated and purchases signed off. But tools are ultimately just tools.

What comes first is culture, and the ability of any legacy organisation to not just adapt to change it sees as being forced upon it, but to actively want and drive change. Leadership is crucial and you need sponsorship across the entire organisation, particularly the part that really understands the customer base.

Battacharya said that strong lines of communication into key stakeholders can also help to overcome other possible obstacles such as structural and organisational resistance to the open-source tooling, the collaborative and transparent nature of which aligns so well to DevOps. 

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Penny Horwood
Author spotlight

Penny Horwood

Associate Editor focusing on diversity in tech and sustainability content.

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