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Meeting the DevOps Challenge: Lessons from Five Tech Leaders

Agility has become a cornerstone of software development. For a decade or so, the Agile development method has transformed the way organizations scope, build and deploy software. Instead of exhaustive engineering specs that take a year to execute, software companies today are more likely to build incremental releases and enhancements that ship as they become available.

But how do you control the development, testing and production environments across, say, six time zones, three continents and several hundred unique environments? How do you integrate efforts across development and operations teams to fulfill the promise of continuous deployment?

A growing number of companies are turning to DevOps to solve the issues of building and deploying software at massive scale. In a typical year at Rackspace, we use DevOps to push code into production more than 2,500 times, launch about 20 new cloud products and run more than 15,000 automated tests. We also provide a robust DevOps Automation Service to customers who need high-powered release management tools.

But to be clear, DevOps is not a set of automation tools. It’s a mindset and an agent of cultural change—bringing contributors from operations and development into a seamless, ongoing, Agile process.

DevOps is not easy. It requires stamina and state-of-the-art methods and tools. But it’s also a process that pays huge dividends. We have customers who are deploying code dozens of times a day, across hundreds of environments, and getting to market faster than ever before. As far as we know, there is no other approach outside of DevOps that can achieve that.

We recently interviewed five IT leaders and asked them about their experience of implementing DevOps within their organizations. We asked questions like: “How did you facilitate DevOps?” “What are the essential components of DevOps?” “What would you recommend to another company interested in beginning a DevOps implementation?”

The full ebook—The DevOps Mindset: Real-World Insights from Tech Leaders—is available for download, but listed below are a few insights from the leaders we talked with.

“DevOps is both a social system and a technical system, a Socio-Technical System. You can’t buy DevOps in a box.” – Kevin Behr, Chief Science Officer, Praxis Flow

“Do not look at software development or support as a playbook that you can bring wherever you go. You have to first understand the culture of the company, the people, the customers you serve, and it also depends on the region.” –Bharat Krish, VP of Information Technology, HBO Latin America

“The idea of the no-snowflake environment is that software engineers and systems engineers would not log onto a single box in production and alter its configuration, no matter how beneficial that change seemed to be. Instead, we would focus on cookbooks or recipes and the software expression of that node, or that group of nodes, as a way to resolve it.” – Jeff Hackert, Engineering Manager, Riot Games

“The team that trains together stays together—your teams should constantly cross-train across various departments. Your developers should know how QA departments work, and your IT operations group should be aware of the needs of developers.” –James Kenigsberg, CTO, 2U, Inc.

“Repeatability and scalability are our business. The capabilities that DevOps gives us directly enable this be encouraging collaboration within the organization to come up with better solutions.” –Jim Kimball, CTO, HedgServ

Download the full ebook now.

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