Interview: Richard Dalziel, Hymans Robertson, DevOps Excellence Awards finalist

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Richard Dalziel
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Richard Dalziel

Computing's DevOps Excellence Awards showcase outstanding achievements from organisations, personalities and solutions that have successfully applied DevOps methodologies.

This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Thursday, 14th March in London.

Among the finalists are the Hymans Robertson, who have jointly reached the shortlist for two categories: Best DevOps Transformation and Best DevOps Team.

We caught up with Richard Dalziel, principle software engineer. Richard has been a software engineer at Hymans Robertson for 8 years. He's been been a part of the CIR (Continuous Improvement of Releases) team since it formed in 2018. Together they've enhanced their release automation process and have streamlined their change management process. This has led to significant improvements in the release cadence. Outside of work Richard likes to keep an active lifestyle. Balancing running, the gym and hiking to maintain a reasonable level of fitness. He'salso guilty of taking the odd software side-project to 50% completion!

Conputing: What are your/their thoughts about DevOps?

RD: At Hymans Robertson, our commitment to delivering high-quality software efficiently is underpinned by our belief in the power of multi-disciplinary teams. We strive for high performing teams and whilst this extends further than DevOps, the integration of development and operational capability within development teams is pivotal for the safe, efficient release of software.

DevOps, in our experience, extends further than the collaboration between developers and operations. It represents a cultural shift and a commitment to ongoing communication, continuous improvement and automation. This approach is especially critical as we navigate the rapidly evolving landscapes of technology, marked notably by the current evolution of AI technologies. The dynamic nature of these changes necessitates a proactive approach to tool evaluation with a particular keen eye on the operational implications to ensure smooth, scalable production deployments.

Why is DevOps important in your/their role?

In striving to deploy code more frequently, the principles of DevOps become the linchpin of our operational efficiency and agility. As one of the founding members of our initiative to continuously improve our release processes, my involvement has given me a firsthand perspective of the transformative impact of DevOps on our firm.

The adoption of DevOps has not only streamlined our deployment pipelines but also contributed to a culture of continuous improvement across our development teams. This shift has granted us, as engineers, a considerable degree of autonomy, empowering us to deliver faster, more reliable, feature-rich software solutions for our clients.

How is DevOps evolving?

DevOps has been evolving with the introduction of Platform Teams and more recently the emergence of AI Technologies for automation. The challenge for DevOps will be integrating platform teams and AI without compromising the core values of collaboration and agility. Balancing new technologies with DevOps principles is key to sustaining the empowerment and autonomy of our development teams which is fundamental to our delivery success.

What are your/their key achievement within DevOps

In collaboration with the rest of our CIR team, I contributed to a transformative increase in our release capacity, scaling from 300 to 2000+ releases annually by introducing our tiered release process which empowers our development teams by giving them ownership of their deployment processes.

This achievement is underpinned by the development of over 50 custom pipeline extensions, designed to enforce best practises across the development teams. We approached these extensions with the same rigor as client-facing products, incorporating integration tests, and regular updates for dependencies and security.

Additionally, I'm proud of our comprehensive Analytics Dashboard, which provides real-time insights into our production environments, ensuring they align with our strategic objectives and maintain operational excellence. This tool has become integral to our capability to assess and enhance the reliability and efficiency of our services which reflects on our commitment to continuous improvement and to clients.

DevOps Excellence Awards will take place on 14th March in London. Click here to view the shortlist.

Richard Dalziel is principal software engineer at Hymans Robinson.

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