Meeting 4 - South Hants IT group - DevOps

16 March 2019

So, the experiment continues….. With 25 attendees at our May DevOps event, we continue to pull together a range of skills and industries within the technology competency to form beneficial relationships. It was great to see a couple of new apprentices from NATS and Safran, and this should be encouraged to develop the skills in the local area. A massive thank you to all of those who came along, but a slight disappointment in your abilities to eat the cakes as we had two boxes left…. Just disappointing.

Roland Harvey from Contino delivered an excellent presentation on DevOps, a difficult topic considering the breadth of understanding in the room. He had to deal with questions from deep techies, business people and Procurement chaps alike (sorry mate), and managed to keep it interesting and informative for which I am very grateful. 

My notes from the topic were:

  • The evolution of programming has been the trigger and creator of the DevOps movement. From my youth (BASIC), through my A-Levels (PL1, COBOL), through my Uni days (C+, Pascal). DevOps was only really able to commence once programming languages became Object Oriented (Ruby, Java) to give the flexibility to the process.
  • The real movement was started around Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) created by Google. DevOps was a term created by the broader industry as it developed beyond just Google.
  • The process encourages Collaborative team based working over silos and serial processes. By creating fully representative “agile” teams, the process of agreeing and processing change is streamlined to drive a more responsive, innovative approach to development. Waterfall methods have been superseded. "Heritage" systems are a thing of the past (as well as calling them Legacy apparently)
  • A good source of background for this is the Phoenix Project, by Gene Kim and Kevin Behr, which articulates how the processes work in layman’s language.
  • The biggest difficulty with adopting a DevOps approach is cultural. It impacts all aspects of People, Process, Technology within a business, but change resistant People are the biggest hurdle. Once these are bought in, the Process and Technology can be deployed to drive benefits.
  • Agile and DevOps are highly integrated terms, if not interchangeable, in what they stand for. DevOps is more akin to Software Development, Agile has a broader process application.
  • Its difficult to “buy” DevOps from a Procurement standpoint. Fixed Price against a fuzzy scope is difficult, T&M could come with substantial risk. Focusing on the outcome of the DevOps processes (e.g. the final product) is the best approach, but this will take a more broad minded approach from the traditional risk averse Procurement processes.
  • ITIL and DevOps do not sit hand in hand naturally. Having a fully flexible development process that has to work through a formal Change Approval Board is clearly a conflict. I would have thought the ITIL guys are already on this and v4 / v5 will incorporate this better way of working (although I can’t see how).
  • Contino have some incredible case studies. 40% savings, 46x uplift in release frequency, etc. This event was not sponsored by Contino, but if you want more detail I recommend you visit
  • The “Spotify Model”, or Squad Model, is a method of bringing together cross functional teams within a DevOps framework, and Contino applied this to themselves to support major growth in their own organisation. Companies struggling with growing pains may look to this to help overcome these barriers.

Once again, quality of presenter, content and interaction was top drawer and a massive thanks to Roland for delivering the presentation – especially seeing as he’s only been in Contino for 3 months! A contact worth having if you are looking to engage with DevOps.

The group has collected approximately £1,100 in subscriptions for 2019 and is looking to turn a profit which will be given to charity in May. Nominations for the charity will be performed at the next meeting.

And apologies for the poor administration of the meeting, I think I pulled it off – just. Name badges and other cup-cake options will be available in May. Our graphic illustrator was unavailable for the March meeting but has vowed to attend the next one, so look forward to that.

It was agreed that Security will be the theme of the next session, open to ideas on the specifics beneath this:

  • Thursday 16th May, 5:30pm for a 6pm-7pm meeting.
  • Boozer thereafter will continue be the Parsons Collar,
  • Everyone is welcome who work in IT in the South Hants and surrounding areas. Please spread the word.

Finally an update on the benefits of the event. We have had a number of local businesses engage with each other on customer projects as a collaborative approach as a direct result of meeting at SH IT. We have also has a number of general leads passed, including one that has already closed to the benefit of both parties involved. And that makes me very very happy.

Any questions, comments or feedback, please get in touch.

Phil (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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