Inside DevOps


When it comes to Technology, it’s no secret that we are evolving faster than ever before and a prime example of this can be seen when you look at the movement of DevOps. DevOps is only getting bigger, and while it may still be in its infancy there is a lot to come for this methodology… which is pretty exciting for me as a DevOps and Infrastructure Recruiter! We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Tim Gurney, The Founder of Wolf Software who specialises in this field to find out more about DevOps itself and what he thinks is in store for the future of the movement.

(In a rush but want to know Tim’s key points? Scroll down to find our Inside DevOps Takeaway graphic!)

For those of us that aren’t that technical, what exactly is DevOps / the function of DevOps?

For a purely pedantic answer: DevOps is a methodology – it isn’t a role or a function specifically but a method of working.

For a less pedantic answer: The idea of DevOps is to have a much closer working relationship between the Development function of a business and the Operations function. The idea being that if these two teams work much closer together then they will work faster and you will be able to achieve things in a much shorter time scale. People often mix up DevOps and Agile – which are different things but are often done together hence the confusion.

Looking at your LinkedIn you can see you have pretty vast IT experience in a number of areas, so how did you get in to DevOps for your most recent role and what excites you about this field?

To be honest a lot of what I have done over the last few years has been ‘DevOps’ it just didn’t have the cool name linked to it at the time. DevOps is the new buzzword (as is agile) which often describes something a business has been doing for many years, especially small businesses. So for me it wasn’t really about getting into DevOps it was just more of the same. As for what excites me, I like fast paced environments, working small (or large) projects with a specific purpose and time scale etc.

How do you feel DevOps affects the culture of a business?

It fundamentally changes the culture of a entire business as everyone in the business has to rethink how they interface into the two teams, how they make requests for work, how they manage customer expectations etc. it has touch points in all areas of the business, even stretching into budget planning and forecasting.

How has DevOps impacted on development in your experience?

From my personal experience it has often improved development greatly, being able to make small changes very often has a very positive impact of the development life cycle as well as the customer experience, it is also very common for a lot of ops people to have development experience which they can also bring into this environment and offer development teams other ways to think about things. I personally do a lot of development, and I also own/run a software company as well as my DevOps consultancy.

What impact has DevOps had on Legacy products?

The impact of legacy products has been less dramatic, often these legacy products have been developed with a waterfall or humanwave approach and it is very hard to change this and bring in a more DevOps style approach. What I have found is a lot of companies consider replacing legacy products in order to avoid this sort of issue, and where that isn’t possible they will have a specific team which are tasked with maintaining the legacy product.

In your opinion what benefits come from implementing DevOps for a business?

There are a lot of benefits, speed of development, which decreases time to market dramatically, speed to fix problems or response to customer requests or complaints, which increases customer engagement and makes customers feel they are being listened to more, which improves customer satisfaction which generally leads to more sales and as such a better bottom line.

How have you found Recruitment for DevOps in the past and what ways do you think this can this be improved?

I think one of the biggest issues is that DevOps and agile are current buzzwords which are used a lot, even when they are being used incorrectly, for example there is no such thing as a ‘DevOps engineer’ (even though I am classed as one). They are often used by companies in the hope that they will attract different or better people, even though they might not actually be doing it. Until there is a common understanding of these terms there will continue to be issues, and I often have to wait until I have talked on the phone or face to face to a client to know if they really are implementing DevOps or not.

What is the biggest opposition to using a DevOps methodology from your experience?

I would say that the biggest opposition to DevOps are the companies themselves, a lot of companies still prefer the ‘host it yourself and only spend CAPEX’ approach and until these companies adjust their own internal mind-sets they will always be holding themselves back.

In your opinion, what makes a good DevOps Engineer?

There are a few key things in my opinion: lots of experience (as wide a ranging as possible), some level of development experience (even if only at home on open source products), a keen understanding on a range of technologies (networking, security, systems etc.), and a ability to think on your feet and solve problems with out of the box (hate the phrase) thinking.

What problems can implementing DevOps have with the communication between the development and Infrastructure teams?

If it is implemented correctly there will be no problems, as these teams should be communicating all day everyday to ensure things are being carried out following the methodology, however in the early days, this communication can be seen as taking up too much time, and if not everyone buys into the change you will find some people are actively pulling against the change, and this is where the problems come in and fractures appear and communication ends up being one way if it happens at all. It is very important that everyone involved understands the benefits to the change and buys into it from the start.

As with most of our Technical clients and candidates we are constantly looking at the future and emerging trends within the industry – do you have any predictions of what’s in store for the future of DevOps?

DevOps will continue to grow as more and more companies take advantage of cloud solutions, on the back of this there are a few technologies that will become more and more important – cloud security and ensuring customer data is safe and secure, especially in a PCI regulated environment, NOSql databases like MongoDB will become the standard at businesses require larger, faster and clustered database solutions, I expect MySQL to decline rapidly over the next 3-5 years.

So there you have it! An inside look into the growing world of DevOps from Tim Gurney, a DevOps advocate who has over 20 years experience in the tech industry! Has your company adopted the DevOps methodology yet? Let us know your thoughts today!

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Chris Hopley (Digital Infrastructure & Support Manager – specialising in placing DevOps professionals in the North West and Yorkshire)

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