Join Eveline Oehrlich and Romano Roth, Chief of DevOps, to discuss whether DevOps Dead. Romano shares his experiences with what the Chief of DevOps does, DevOps at scale and addresses the critiques of DevOps.
Roman is a leader, senior 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁, 𝗔𝗿𝗰𝗵𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝗼𝗳𝘁𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗘𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘁 with over 20+ years of professional experience in different domains, including the financial, insurance, cyber security, electricity, medical, and aviation
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Romano Roth 00:16
We have not yet progressed really into the direction of DevOps, but many companies are doing is they say we have that DevOps silo introduced or we have the DevOps engineer, but that’s not really doing DevOps.
Eveline Oehrlich 00:33
Welcome to humans of DevOps Podcast. I’m Evelyn early Chief Research Officer at DevOps Institute. Our podcast today titled today is a really, huh, I’m not saying it. Let’s wait. DevOps is dead. Question mark, exclamation mark. You’ll know why when we are finished. Today, we have with us, Romano Ross, who is chief of DevOps at a service provider software service provider. Hello, Romano. Hi, Evelyn. How are you doing? I’m very well. All good. All good already to roll up the sleeves and tell us more about a variety of things. But before we go there, I want to just quickly introduce him and Romano. If you have anything to add, please do so. So Romana is a leader, Senior Consultant, architect and software development expert. He has over 20 years of professional experience in many different domains, including the financial insurance, cybersecurity, medical aviation. What did I leave out? Is there anything else you want to add or motto?
Romano Roth 01:49
No, I think that’s it more or less. The only thing I could add is, I’m also organizing the DevOps meetup Zurich, which is monthly meetup we’re doing it’s free to join. And I’m also the president of the DevOps days, Eric, which is a two day conference, we are organizing, and there are all over the place all over the world in all the big cities. Therefore, these conferences,
Eveline Oehrlich 02:16
Excellent, great addition, I actually went to the tourist one, and, of course, many of the other ones. So that’s great. I did not forget that, that. That was a great experience. All right. Welcome, again to our podcast today. So my first question is chief of DevOps. I love that title. Chief of DevOps is fantastic title tell us what does the chief of DevOps to?
Romano Roth 02:44
Yeah, it’s an awesome title. So the chief of DevOps is a thought leader. So, as a thought leader, you are speaking, you do conference, speaking, you are doing videos and doing a blog post. But when it comes to Chief of DevOps in a company, you are the solid leader about DevOps in that company, you define the strategy, and also the offering that this company has, and what skills and capabilities are needed to, to be on the market and to do all of these offerings. And of course, you also define the education program, and you also educate the people in terms of DevOps. But the most important thing, what you need to do is you need to work in projects. And only by working the real projects and making your hands dirty, you can really be a thought leader and the chief of DevOps.
Eveline Oehrlich 03:51
I agree with that. Of course, that’s fantastic. Now I was listening and watching a video you did, which really is I’m referring to that video, in our title of the podcast, DevOps is dead. And in that or DevOps is dead, kind of like a surprise. You talked about business, the developers wall of confusion. And what I am curious about, of course, you do your work in dark, but I think you travel, as you said, across Europe and globally. What I’m sorry, what I thought I would ask you Well, I am going to ask you is have we not been through this conversation of DevOps versus developer? You know, Dev versus ops versus business in this wall of confusion and we really progressed yet to a modern way of developing and delivering custom products to customers and service and clients or are our wish I was still asking, what is DevOps? DevOps is dead. I mean, all of that. Give us your perspective on all of that.
Romano Roth 04:58
So I would also say, yeah, there are also people, which is say it, everything about DevOps has already been set it, everything is clear, it’s everything is there, you just need to do it. But when I go into companies, I nowadays still see the same picture of the business, together with the customers, they have bright ideas. And still, they write it down into Word documents and into into JIRA tickets, and then they are thrown over the wall of confusion to the development team. And the development team then develops these bright ideas. And they just do it and then they throw it over the wall of confusion to a QA team, which is still there. And then they test something and then they throw it over the wall of confusion to the operation team. And still the operation team has difficulties to to operate this software. So these were all of confusions, they are still there. And what we can clearly see is they are still there, because we still have silo organization, many companies have not yet organized themselves across the value stream. So that they really have product teams, still, the companies are working in projects, they still have project and the project always has a start and it has an end and has a budget. And it all boils down to yearly budget goals to KPIs that we that we still have, we have not yet progressed really into the direction of DevOps, what many companies are doing is they say, Yeah, we are doing DevOps, or we have that DevOps silo introduced, or we have the DevOps engineer, but that’s not really doing DevOps.
Eveline Oehrlich 06:59
So really, what I hear you say, is that, even if we say DevOps, without starting at the higher level, in the organization, where there is that common thinking in terms of product, or as you said, value stream, it is going to be a challenge to truly live DevOps or whatever ops, whatever dev x Ops is, right? We’ll get to that. Without having that perspective. Is that what you’re saying?
Romano Roth 07:31
Yes, absolutely. Because also, when you look at DevOps at the definition of DevOps, and of course, there are 1000s of definition. But as I always say, DevOps is a mindset and the culture and the set of technical practices. I think, when it comes to technical practices, we are more or less okay with with that you know them, but then changing the culture or the mindset is a difficult thing. And it can always only come from the top management. And this is something that all of the companies nowadays are lacking that cultural change, and that mindset change, which my opinion needs to come from top down.
Eveline Oehrlich 08:18
Yeah, so from a pessimistic perspective, which I usually don’t take, but I wanted to just point it out. Some of those DevOps teams are fighting against windmills, because if there is not the top down support on changing the culture, and as a product team, it makes it a challenge. However, we know that they are, as you said, on the technology side on the processes within the DevOps that have been ordered within DevOps to have been a lot of advancements. And those organizations are bubbling up the outcomes and the results of their great work. And hopefully, more and more of that will go up to those executive leaders to see that it’s an overall cultural change. Now, I want to stay on that theme, quickly relative to one DevOps versus multiple DevOps, right? Kind of, so if I have multiple, if I have one DevOps team, small company, blah, blah, blah, might pass be possible, but most of our listeners, excuse me, are in enterprise organizations. So what is a model going forward? Well, what’s the model when there are multiple DevOps teams in an organization?
Romano Roth 09:28
So this is exactly one of the topics I’m talking quite a lot nowadays. And as you pointed out, when you are a small company, or just building one product, then it’s quite easy to do DevOps more or less, but scaling that up is is difficult. And when we look at that, then what usually happens is that companies tend to do a little bit of DevOps. They build the DevOps silo between Dev and Ops, which is just again a silo until you don’t really get the efficiency that you wanted to see, then when you look at how DevOps really should be is that Dev and Ops are moving together, all of the people are coming together across the value stream, and they are building a cross functional team, then you really are doing DevOps. And now when you think about that, and you have multiple of these value streams, or product teams, then you can clearly see that, out of that, you will have a lot of inefficiencies, because many of these teams are reinventing the wheel, they are doing their own stuff, which is of course good, but they are not really reusing things. So the this this aspect is, is quite critical. Because it you also have a quite a lot of cognitive load in these teams, they need to really care about building the product, operating the product and maintaining the product. This also means that they need to know quite a lot of tools. And this is difficult. And the new kid around the corner, or the new kid in the block is this platform engineering that that we are seeing coming up, where you have a platform team, which builds the platform, and also the API’s and everything so that the product teams can build, maintain and operate the product and do DevOps.
Eveline Oehrlich 11:37
So we have seen that platform engineering team, what is a skill I need, if I want to become a platform engineer? What would you say?
Romano Roth 11:55
You need to be a software engineer. A platform is nothing else than also a product. So when it comes to skills, in my opinion, it’s really that software engineering skill, because also building that platform requires you to to build a product, the platform, which has a user interface, a self service portal, a marketplace so that you can enable the other teams. So you need to know how to program a user interface, you need to know how to program API’s, you need to know how to program databases. And but you also need to have is the, of course DevOps mindset, DevOps skills. And you need to know a lot about how software is built. So what kind of tools are good to use, so that you can build up this platform so that the teams can most efficient work with these technologies, which means nowadays, you need to know a lot about the cloud technologies, cloud native technologies.
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Eveline Oehrlich 13:49
Okay, great. I would certainly not qualify for a DevOps engineer, as a platform engineer, but I probably would be going down the SRE path Site Reliability Engineering, because I have an infrastructure and operations background. But I have another question. There was always this, you know, when we do research on DevOps and read in whatever magazines or whatever events we go to there is or whatever vendor I talk to, because I do speak to quite a few vendors, as I’m also having an industry analyst position. There are these different terms def sec, ops, Biz Ops, dev x ops DevOps, there’s more and more coming out of the closet. So I, and then of course, there’s value stream management, right? VSM. And all of them are related SRE and keep going, all of them are related, but it seems to me and I know you you had this argument with yourself as well. I was listening to your video, it seems to me when we sometimes when we use the word DevOps people or individuals or whoever thinks that this is just as movement lol level somewhere in the development and operations team, but it is bigger. So is DevOps, the term itself not really serving our purpose? Should we call it DevOps? Or Should this be called something else? What’s your thought on that?
Romano Roth 15:15
Yeah. So let’s, let’s be, quite frankly, when we look at the term DevOps, then this term, DevOps is not very good. The term DevOps says development and operation. And back in that time, it was okay ish. I think it was around 2008. When this term came up, it was occasioned as he pointed out, more and more of these terms are coming up like dev SEC ops, which is development, security and operation or biz dev ops, business, development and operation. And but as I pointed out, DevOps is about bringing all the people together, where you would need sort of a term like def beats our QA, ops, and I’m pretty sure I have forgotten someone. You can also call it ethics ops, or Deathstar ops. For me, DevOps is really about bringing all the people all the technology and all the process together to continuously deliver value. It’s really about how we can continuously deliver a product or service to our customers. That’s the important thing. Now, of course, we can now argue what could be a better term. In my opinion, this is secondary. As long as we have a good understanding of what DevOps is, and what what it what it is all about, then this term is okay. I also don’t believe belief that we really can find a very good term to describe that.
Eveline Oehrlich 17:00
So what you’re saying is stop talking about what it is just go on, do follow the paths, try to adopt the practices and change the culture on the way, expanding it from a pilot, expanding it into something more good executive buy in, and so on. And so, as we have different maturity levels, I don’t know if that is even the right term, I’m questioning myself when I say maturity, because as we know, we’re never done with it, right? We, we move into the next technology, we are adopting whatever Mehta or AR VR rpa, different server lists, blah, blah, blah, all of that wonderful stuff, wonderful stuff, our environment keeps getting more complex, our demands for services and products are tied to customer experience, etc, etc. So we will never be done. But it’s it’s a two part question. The first one is, when I am somewhere in a kind of good DevOps, journey, high performing, and I am somewhere a DevOps Chief Chief of DevOps. What can I in this case, you know, you are the chief of DevOps, what would you recommend to those folks to actually scale it further among that maybe high performing team? What are some of the things they should be doing to expand their their journey in their culture in towards the bigger foot print of DevOps? And I don’t mean it from a sorry to clarify, I don’t mean it from a technology perspective, I mean, or from maybe not a process perspective, but really from a people from a culture perspective.
Romano Roth 18:57
So, what, what do you need to do is you need to organize across the value stream, I think this is really the magic you need to do you need to identify the value streams in your in your company, how you generate value, what kind of steps are needed and what people are in there, and then organize these people in these value streams. You can also call it product teams. Of course, a value stream can also have multiple products, but it is very important to organize around that value stream. And secondly, what is also important important is to empower the people and so empower this value stream give this value stream budget. So that’s the value stream itself can decide what is necessary to do to make a great product or multiple great products for For the customers, and now you can also see we are shifting away from from projects from, we need to have these 10 features to a point where the customer is in the center, and we want to have happy customers, but also of course happy employees. So that we really are focusing on the on the customer and building absolutely great products with building and quality. So that will be my recommendation to organize across the value stream, bring the customer into the center half KPIs, according to to the customer. And also employees as satisfaction and giving really empower the people in this value stream give it giving them the budget and the power to decide.
Eveline Oehrlich 20:54
Excellent. I wanted to do a quick shout out to a project I’m involved in with Helen Beal I believe, you know, Helen, right? Maybe you don’t know you don’t you have to meet her. She is basically besides her being a colleague of mine at the DevOps Institute. She’s also the chair of the value stream Consortium, which is a, I think the first time ever since I’ve been in this space, a variety of vendors are getting together, and are researching and are applying common thinking and thought leadership together on value stream management, and one of the projects we’re doing is the second notice the third year we’re doing research in the state of value stream management. And just recently, Helen did a fantastic it’s called a pier scape with IDC. And if you just type in anybody listening, if you type in pure scape, IDC value stream management, you should be able to see the video and the conversation around a value stream management a fantastic ability to learn how to start that journey. And one of the customers there actually was Netflix, a product manager of Netflix, who has talked about how they are doing value stream management in their company. Excellent. All right, looking at the clock, why do fun conversations always go by so fast? So pull out your crystal ball. Besides the conversation on value stream management, let’s hope there is more and more interest and adoption of that product thinking in the value stream management thinking. But if we, if we go down the road, if we even can, right? If we look maybe two years from now, what do you think? What is the future of DevOps, then? Two years? What is that that is 2025? When you and I will be sitting somewhere in soulish to have a cup of coffee or cappuccino or an adult beverage doesn’t matter? What would we then see in DevOps.
Romano Roth 23:00
But we can clearly see at the moment is Alta Vista was platform engineering, and they were all of the toolings there is a lot of standardization coming in, you can not clearly see that it’s more under the hood. But we are going to into an area where software development gets standardized. And in my opinion, it gets industrialized, we are going away, let’s say from just always reinventing the wheel it into a direction of where you are using different things together. And they fit together because they are standardized. In my opinion, what we will see is the build up of digital factories, you can already see that together with the platform engineering companies are building their own digital factories, where in this digital factory, the teams are organized across the value stream where they are producing digital products or cyber physical products. And the platform engineering team provides the convenient belt for these digital factories in the companies. So my prediction is we will see a lot of digital factories coming up.
Eveline Oehrlich 24:22
I would I would bet you but I am agreeing with you. So I will buy the drink because I ordered a coffee or a cup of tea. No, I agree with you. This is a great, great conversation digital factories. That’s something I’d love to explore further. But not today. But really, really great insight. I love that crystal ball vision you have there in the future. For my No this was great. Now I have one more question. It’s a closing question. It has nothing to do with digital factories, DevOps, or any of those terms. What do you do for fun?
Romano Roth 24:57
Oh, I love to travel around the world. I love to see new countries and in these countries, I do a lot of photography. I also have my Instagram channel and I have a second YouTube channel where I post also some videos at the moment. I do a lot of 360 degree videos, which I love. And of course, I love playing computer games and I also read a lot.
Eveline Oehrlich 25:27
Fantastic. Well, if you ever make it to my region of as I’m only really an hour and a half north of you, stop by give me a buzz. We’ll go and travel my hometown together, you can take 360 degree videos, I will check out the videos you have done. Thank you so much. We have been talking to Romana Ross, Chief of DevOps at SilkAir, which is a service provider software consulting organization. He does a lot of work and talk leading so check him out. Again, Amanda, thank you so much for joining me today on humans of DevOps podcast. Thank you for having me. Humans of DevOps podcast is produced by DevOps Institute. Our audio production team includes Julia pape, Daniel Newman, Schultz and Brendan Leigh. Shout out to my wonderful colleagues. I’m humans of DevOps podcast, Executive Producer, Evelyn early. If you would like to join us on a podcast, please contact us at this very long email email@example.com. I’m Evelyn early. I’ll talk to you soon.
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