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Where The Enterprise And DevOps Meet

I recently attended the CIO Europe Summit, hosted by CDM Media. There was a first for me at this event: a CTO for a major global bank gave a 30-minute talk on DevOps to his peers. (In fact, he credited Rackspace’s awesome YouTube Video as a great starting point).

I’m sure he’s not the first enterprise leader to talk about DevOps, but he was the first one I had seen and more importantly – he got it. I felt this newsworthy enough to report! He identified the challenges of driving cultural change and a shift in mindset as a key enabler. He was also incredibly frank with the reality that competitors who are smaller will be moving more quickly than them and the challenge was to keep pace and stay relevant.

This got me thinking about where DevOps will come from in the enterprise. As a relatively new, but keen member of the community that is being formed, I’d love to think that speakers like this will arrive at all our usual haunts such as DevOpsDays, Velocity, FOSDEM etc… I think the reality is that enterprises have some challenges about community engagement that may stop them from appearing right now. Many enterprises still have restrictions on contributing to open source projects because it shows what they are using to develop applications (at Rackspace, we empower all Rackers to contribute to open source projects). Some may fear speaking at DevOps events because elements of their operations are proprietary or sensitive. We cannot expect them to change corporate culture on a dime and externalize a ton of information which was previously confidential.

Enterprise DevOps is going to come from the inside – at events where Chatham House Rules can be applied where they can talk among peers who genuinely understand and share the scale of their challenge. As comfort increases, I’m sure more will publicize fully; but right now, its a world that a lot of the DevOps community members do not walk in by choice and in order to influence these organizations we need to find ways to communicate in channels they respect, value and trust.

The other interesting insight is that the view of DevOps being synonymous with open source software is going to be challenged by the enterprise. They will want to make sure that the investments in tools and technology they already have can help them start this journey. It will test the assertion that DevOps is really about people, culture and collaboration – if they can use the tools of the enterprise to deliver the outcomes of the startup we’ll really have proved that DevOps is an approach for all to consider.

The final observation is that the most tenured enterprise IT leaders will not find DevOps all that uncomfortable. After all, they remember the time when IT was a small team of 20 where you really could shout over your desk and collaborate with another discipline. IT has a nice way with repeating trends. Imagine what TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework) will be doing for internet startups in 2030!

I’m excited to see what the enterprises come up with as the thinking around DevOps gains maturity and I’m looking forward to sharing that insight with them and understanding how we can advance the entire movement regardless of size.

The Rackspace DevOps Automation Service automates application environments using DevOps tools, and includes 24×7 DevOps Engineering support. And Rackspace DevOps Advisory Services help you understand the cultural shift your business will undergo to create an agile, automated environment that complements our cloud platforms.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Chris Jackson.

Chris Jackson is the Chief Technologist for Rackspace EMEA. He has over a decade of IT experience in technical support, solution design, account management and web application development. In his current role, Chris drives technology strategy into Rackspace’s product and service offerings as well as working with customers to understand how their needs map to a increasingly complex marketplace of services. He has built and championed the creation of a DevOps Advisory service and is contributing to a global group responsible for understanding the evolution of managed services in an increasingly automated world.

Chris launched his Rackspace career seven years ago as a data centre technician after spending a year with Motorola as a system administrator. He earned a bachelor¹s degree in computer science and e-business from Loughborough University in the UK, where he graduated with honours. Chris and his wife, Sally, live in Berkshire, with their 18-month-old son, George. When he¹s not in meetings, Chris can be found spending time with his family and catching up on sports.

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