DevOps Institute

DevOps Institute Focuses on the Human Side of Software Delivery

Humans of DevOps

August 20, 2019

By: Susan Hall

For all the talk about automation at DevOps World|Jenkins World, the DevOps Institute shined the spotlight on the human element.

In session after session, speakers talked not just of tools, but of the people and processes that had to change to expedite software delivery. As Tracy Miranda, director of open source community at CloudBees, and a member of the governing board for the Continuous Delivery Foundation, put it previously: “Change is very, very hard. It’s not simply a matter of taking tools and throwing it at it — you have to change the culture and you have to change the mindset, and it involves lots of people. People are hard and tools are easy.”

The institute is part of the vendor-neutral CD Foundation, with a mission to keep the people element in the mix.

“When companies report what they’ve been able to achieve, they never show you their pipelines, they talk about some of the innovations they did around people,” said DevOps Institute CEO Jayne Groll in an interview.

“Organizations that have revised their organizational design, the benefits, the challenges, the risks associated with that. Those that are achieving above and beyond and not just looking at continuous delivery tools, the ones reporting pretty substantial benefits, they’ll tell you the good, the bad and the ugly, but all of it has to do with people,” she said, adding, “It’s easy to stand up machines or update software, but it’s hard to change people. You have to put your mind around it. You can’t just say, ‘I don’t have to deal with this people thing.’”

The organization, founded in 2015, took a page from similar efforts such as the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and Project Management Institute to create a company of DevOps professionals involved in continuous learning.

The biggest misnomer about the institute is that it’s a training company, Groll said. It doesn’t do any training, though it works with education partners that provide DevOps certifications.

“We realized that while certification is great, continuous learning is more important. There’s definitely a strain to find talent right now,” Groll said.

In an effort to learn more about the talent gap, last year it surveyed 1,600 practitioners. In what Groll called on “aha” finding from its Enterprise DevOps Skills Report, automation, process and soft skills came out statistically equal as must-haves.

As for the soft skills, “It not just communication and collaboration, it’s not problem-solving, but empathy showed up very high. Customer experience ranked really high,” she said.

So that’s part of the organization’s mission.

“If we know soft skills are really important, how do you enable safe opportunities to learn and practice those? That’s part of our future. It’s role-playing, it’s simulations, is it video? Is it all of the above?” she said (The institute is conducting a followup survey. You can participate here).

Amazon’s announcement of a $700 million investment in upskillingemployees, points to a larger need in the industry to help workers enhance their skills, she said. The institute introduced its SKIL framework — skills, knowledge, ideas and learning — as a means of fostering continuous learning that includes content, opportunities to share ideas, and peer-to-peer networking.vIt also just announced an Ambassador program, in which local volunteers in more than 15 countries have committed to sharing their knowledge with others.

One part of that commitment will be contributing to Continuous Learning Minutes, short videos that will appear on the institute’s website. Each one explains something: What is Kubernetes? Why is it important? Why should I care about it? It’s creating a video glossary from thought leaders to create an understanding of basic terms, so those hallway discussions take place on common ground.

The other aspect is to help upskill hour by hour, person by person, Groll said.

“Ambassadors are to bring the human perspective locally, she said. They will start having SkillUp sessions. They are practitioners who understand their specific region and will contribute their expertise through speaking and content.

“They are our ear to the world. We get feedback from them,” she said.

CloudBees sponsored this story, written independently by The New Stack.


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