Join Eveline Oehrlich and Adam Frank, VP of Product Management and Design at Armory, to discuss Observability, Developer happiness and experience, and Continuous integration vs. continuous deployment.
Adam Frank is passionate about all things product and design. He creates, influences, and greatly improves end-to-end experiences. He is helping Armory expand and grow by building top-shelf product, marketing and design teams that deliver a simple message with a simple experience.
He has over 15 years of product and development experience, specializing in building products and strategies for complex problems that enable digital transformations and organizational change to ensure growth and scale for world businesses.
He is also a DevOps Institute Ambassador, and an Advisor for Financial Services and Technology as part of Emissary.io.
The Humans of DevOps Podcast is incredibly grateful to be voted one of the Best 25 DevOps Podcasts by Feedspot.
You’re listening to the humans of DevOps podcast, a podcast focused on advancing the humans of DevOps through skills, knowledge, ideas, and learning, or the skil framework.
Adam Frank 00:16
You know, I’ve seen a lot of developer advocates, within companies really kind of start to look internally. One who is kind of walks in those shoes of a developer is certainly going to have the best foot forward.
Eveline Oehrlich 00:33
Welcome to Humans of DevOps Podcast. I’m Eveline Oehrlich Chief Research Officer at DevOps Institute. Our podcast title today is cloud native observability developer happiness. Yes, you can, or Oh, my, if that sounds a little bit like the Dorsey at Kansas, it is for a reason, because I have with me, a gentleman who has incredible knowledge across many, many topics, and I wanted to talk to Him about everything. But I know we only have about 2025 minutes. So today, we have with us Adam Frank. He’s a senior vice president for product and marketing at armory. Hello, Adam.
Adam Frank 01:17
Thank you so much for having me on.
Eveline Oehrlich 01:19
Yes, excited. Like I said, I’m very excited. So before we get started, I wanted to share with the audience a little bit on your background. So Adam is passionate about all things product and design, he creates influences and greatly improves end to end or e to e, I just heard somebody say that experiences, he is helping armory expand and grow by building top-shelf product marketing and design teams that deliver a simple message with a simple experience. He has over 15 years of product and development experience, specializing, sorry for that specializing in building products and strategies for complex problems, problems that enable digital transformations, and organizational change to ensure growth and scale for businesses of the world. Now, Adam is also a DevOps Institute ambassador, and I believe you are still advisor for financial services and technology as part of a misery that IO, is that correct? That is correct. Excellent. Well, welcome again. And thank you for having the time or taking the time on your end. I know you are very, very busy. So I really appreciate it. And I know our listeners are appreciating it as well.
Adam Frank 02:42
Yeah, thanks for having me. That’s quite the intro there as well.
Eveline Oehrlich 02:46
Yes, of course. And I’m actually surprised, you know, we haven’t actually, I am an ambassador, of course, as well. But I’m also Chief Research Officer, we haven’t really met in person. So congratulations on being an ambassador, and thank you for all of your work. Hopefully, we get to meet in person at some point, because now we can, we will see. The first thing really, what is the take of being an ambassador? And how has that helped you as kind of a little bit of a want to get a little bit more insight on what ambassadors do to our audience? Tell us a little bit about your role.
Adam Frank 03:24
Sure, sure. So like you said, back in 2020, is really where I was introduced to the DevOps Institute. Helen Bill was the first person that I interacted with, and she is absolutely lovely, she is full of energy. And she really advocates for the community. So her energy just kind of spilled onto me to advocate for the community as well. So it’s really about sharing the knowledge sharing the experiences, the number of courses that the DevOps Institute has been coming out with lately, and being able to consult on those courses, provide inputs, ideas, even right some of the courses, the modules, the chapters, wherever they may be, and really collaborate with that community to produce something that will hopefully help other members that are very interested in the topic or trying to learn. I think that’s the impetus of all of this is that really sharing knowledge to help others learn and grow within the vast, vast community that we have in and around DevOps and it in in general. So it’s, it’s, it’s fantastic to be an ambassador. I very much enjoyed it. And it’s really helped me both from a networking point of view and understand other people’s perspectives, but also help understand other problems and things that people are facing as well to come up with and you know, kind of ideate around solutions to those problems, along with keeping up with trends and things of that nature. It’s been it’s been a wonderful ride so far.
Eveline Oehrlich 04:53
Great. Well, thank you for sharing that. And yes, shout out to Helen. She is absolutely wonderful. She has Add that that Nick for getting people connected and excited. I love working with her. So shout out to her super thanks for sharing that. In terms of a topic, I really want to first address one I have also researched and studied. So you’ve been focusing and doing some work around observability for a while. Why do you think observability is such a hot topic today?
Adam Frank 05:32
I think we could probably sum it up in in four or five words. And that would be customer experience and product lead growth, bring that down to five letters UX and plg. I think with the complexity and scale of infrastructure and application, in today’s day and age, and the reach from globalization, it’s it’s that coupled with the speed of innovation that we are seeing, one really needs to understand what that customer experience is, what is that customer experiencing with the end to end solution that you are providing, as a software provider as a product service. So being able to not only understand the system, and how they are interacting and behaving, but what that customer is feeling what that customer is doing, that’s going to really enable you to make informed decisions to iterate quickly. To increase your uptime, the way that we really look at the world is agility, stability, and security are going to provide the best customer experience out there. But in order to provide the agility, you need to know where you’re pivoting what you’re iterating on. And being able to do that quickly. In order to provide the stability, you need to understand the systems and the application and how they’re all interacting to make sure that it is up and available and ready to go for that customer wherever they may be. And of course, security, security is top of mind always, but there’s also the other side of it. And that’s the cost savings. So being able to see different areas of the application that can be tuned, the infrastructure that can be tuned to also bring cost savings forward is going to be very, very beneficial for any any, any product in any company that is that is delivering the services.
Eveline Oehrlich 07:25
That it’s really a balancing effort. And an outside in perspective, right. As you said, from a customer experience, perspective, we’re rolling out, we’re coming in from that perspective, making sure we have the velocity, we have the stability, and we have the security because my that’s essential. But at the same time, we know budgets aren’t that big this year, according to Gartner, I think there’s a 5.3% rising in IT budget. So that’s not a lot in terms of spending. So having that balance is where observability fits right in. That’s a great, I love that that could be actually a nice, a nice graphic. All right. Now, of course, this has to do with the digital pace, right, the pace of transformation, no matter if it is in healthcare in industries, verticals, governments, whatever they are, we see that pace continues as CEOs have that on their, on their sleeve as a strategic initiative continuing, particularly after pandemic. And that causes. But while we have a pace of fast and agile and stable and secure, there’s also a significant challenge around the taking of debt that creates, we also have skill gaps, and we have not enough talents. And that makes everything a little bit more complicated. But really what I want to get to is the technology stack is, as you mentioned, I think you said that is becoming more and more complex. And it’s becoming more and more complicated. And I’m assuming you’re seeing that with your clients. So when I step back and think about our focus on the on the in the listening mode, maybe we have some leaders and of course, we have individual contributors who need to rethink their technology stack. How should they? So this is a two part question first, how should they rethink their tech stack today? Where and what can they do to consolidate the tech stack? What are your thoughts on that?
Adam Frank 09:37
Great, great question. Yes, every day, we every day both as a company ourselves and with our customers. We see this every day. The pace of change is the fastest that it’s ever been. And it is not slowing down. I don’t see we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. So yes, every day. I think some of the first things that leaders can start to do is really Staying close to the trends and the best practices that are out there. But one also needs to not just make a decision, because it’s the new shiny object, it’s the new shiny toy. But is there any return on investment with updating their tech stack, they’ll begin to think five years, 10 years out down the road, but also in that short term, and is there actually going to be returned to do this not everything needs to be promoted to a cloud native piece of software. Sometimes things just can’t, the way that they were written, you know, we talked to I talked to a customer not too long ago, and they’re, you know, 42 year old software company with millions of lines of code, supporting over 20 different languages at this point. And by the time that they rewrote this, they may be 42 years in the future, and they will just have to rewrite it all again. So it doesn’t necessarily make sense to replace everything within the tech stack. I had a great conversation with Kelsey Hightower a couple of weeks ago. And you know, he and I both firmly believe that Kubernetes is here. Kubernetes is certainly here for a while. And, you know, with that, and the promise of cloud native is always been cheaper, faster, more stable. So I think one thing that leaders can can definitely do is embrace the declarative nature of Kubernetes and future oriented solutions that are really embracing the declarative nature. No, that’s also offering simple experiences for people. But when it comes down to a really careful planning, not over analyzing, and making informed decisions quickly, to be able to fail fast on which aspects of your tech stack you are replacing, don’t try and do it all at once. Nobody ever wants to do that just target specific areas. And that portion, start with that portion that really enables you to move quicker. And we definitely advocate when people are looking at different parts of their tech stack. What’s What’s your CI CD pipeline looking like? What’s that process look like? Can that be one of the first things that you target that will then enable you to move much quicker with the rest of your stack. And of course, don’t force anything down on your developers make sure that they are part of the process, they are making part of the decisions with you. Because they are going to be the ones that are going to have to benefit and use all of this. At the end of the day.
Eveline Oehrlich 12:23
That gets me to my next question. Great. What is it called a hook into my next question, developer experience. We have heard about this. And I have to admit, Adam, I am an infrastructure and operations. I wouldn’t say geek, because I’m kind of an old an old guys or a geezer I guess that’s the way to say it. But I started out and I you know, and developers to me, were always kind of a strange animal. This is like 1994, that dates me, right. But anyway, just a little bit on that. And but that’s not why we’re here, I wanted to ask you, we hear a lot about developer experience keeping developers happy. And as I said, I’m an IMO myself, but I also covered developer and infrastructure operations. As an analyst. We have made really great progress with DevOps and SRE and many other press best practices and developers, we know they don’t want to do operations. So how do we keep these developers happy? You already mentioned some ideas there relative to C, ICD. We’ll get there in a little bit later. But what are some things our folks can do? Even if their developers keep themselves happy, right, Heather, and others to keep the developers happy?
Adam Frank 13:39
Yeah, I think, in two words, empowerment and transparency, with more emphasis on the empowerment side of things, developers really want to focus they want to create, they want to innovate, they want to solve complex problems, and then want to see the benefits that those complex problems, the solutions to those complex problems are providing for their their users. So they need a platform, they need a tool base, that’s going to really provide them the confidence and make their lives easier. They don’t want to be stuck in those loops of maintaining different pieces of infrastructure or figuring out how to get their software delivered to production. You know, why things are failing, all that kind of stuff. So they’re going to be happiest when they’re coding when they’re solving complex problems, when their code is being shipped out to production in a nice, easy and simple fashion that they can fully control with that transparency that I had mentioned, ops, ops also wants to focus, create, innovate, but also has to enable and obfuscate the complexities that come along with some of this. And really instrument for visibility and stability. I mean, coupling all of that together. And having close relationships with developers. That’s really started to really start to see things and that velocity take off, you really start to see things come to fruition and, and make the lives of developers much happier. Some of the things that I’ve seen people do to really bring us together is start a dedicated UX program, sorry, a dedicated developer experience DX program went in there, that has a very strong emphasis on improving that developer experience. So they’re evaluating tools or evaluating processes, they’re including the developers in all of the decisions, all of the evaluation. So they can all make informed decisions together, and really drive that experience to where they want it to be. And at the end, when you do have happy developers, you’re going to have higher retention, your velocity is going to be higher your time to market all that kind of great stuff. So it’s a really, really great area of focus and improve on within your company.
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Eveline Oehrlich 16:32
A little side, turn down the Dorothy’s past, you said developer experience program. So what kind of skills does somebody like that need to have?
Adam Frank 16:43
You know, I’ve seen a lot of developer advocates, within companies really kind of start to look internally, to bring these programs to date, they definitely need the skills to understand the life and the day of a developer, what a developer is experiencing, they definitely need the tools to understand or the experiences to understand what some of these tools are, what some of these processes look like, having somebody come in off the street without any development experience whatsoever, it would be a very tough job for them to improve that developer experience. So one who is kind of walks in those shoes of a developer is certainly going to have the best best foot forward.
Eveline Oehrlich 17:28
Great idea, I’m actually going to add that to my upskilling report. As a potential idea in the area of start WM process, it’s not really in tech, federally, and in total, just kind of all override. Excellent idea. I love that skill building. That’s the next topic I want to explore with you. So we talked a little bit about it already. But I’m a little biased, maybe because of where I come from, but I won’t tell you which bias I have until you answered the question. So what do you what do you think is the most is the must have skill building category? Is it around people or humans? Is it around technology? Is it around best practice models and frameworks? Is it leadership? Or is there anything else?
Adam Frank 18:19
Yeah, I mean, given the the title of this podcast, I can probably guess, where were you lean in this? My guess is correct, I would lean the same way. I think a good mix is always a sound strategy, you’ll always need a level of leadership that can believe in what you’re doing, they can inspire others and they can, they can downright execute against your strategy and your plan. But the right people can learn tech, so I always believe that starting with the humans starting with the people, and the rest kind of comes together. When you have people that are have a willingness to learn, they have have the ability to foster great relationships with people collaboration, communication, all that kind of good stuff. A lot of that stuff is is a lot more difficult to teach in people than the actual tech is and the best practices the best practices will come from learning what the new tech is and and having those people that are very capable and very willing so I always believe starting with people is the right choice
Eveline Oehrlich 19:24
you know music to my ears, but you will be some you will be surprised as I have been for the last five years in doing this research that organizations particularly IT teams are hiring for technology skills. That’s to me right maybe it is it maybe it’s a it’s a it’s a muscle they have trained for many many years where they where they think that they need to bring and hire for technology skills. To me sometimes shakes shake my head because Absolutely I agree with you. It has to be Around to humans and the empathy and the collaboration and the problem solving the communication. Because without that, it makes it very difficult. But as I said, in, in the research, that’s not what it’s saying, I’ve been beating the drums on that. And maybe this is the year where we can maybe make a little bit more, you know, an inroad on that. Anyway, I have another two part question. This is now into, of course, your favorite topic of continuous integration versus continuous deployment. Give us your thoughts on these two very important topics. And relative to each other, I hear sometimes there are folks talking it interchangeably. And I remember, you know, having conversations with they said the same, it’s not the same, it’s different. And here’s why. So what are your thoughts on those things, and then I have another part, but I’ll hold that until we’re done with that.
Adam Frank 20:58
Excellent, definitely not the same thing. However, hand in hand, it’s very, very difficult to have one without the other, you know, almost impossible, continuous integration and continuous deployment. They’re like peanut butter and jelly. I mean, these two are just absolutely made for each other a match that is like no other. But they are very, very different. Continuous Integration is really about producing the highest quality artifacts as quickly as you can. Continuous Deployment is about getting that artifact out to production, and to your users as safely and as soundly as possible. So to two very different things. However, they do work hand in hand, when we look at continuous integration, this is really where most people start. And this typically been around a little bit longer, taking in a lot of the build and test automation to produce that artifact. And I think it’s really only been the last couple of years, that continuous deployment is starting to catch on more and more, giving people that competitive advantage to iterate quickly, to understand that a user is more accelerate the time to market, all of that kind of really great stuff. So that’s absolutely needed. And to have a sound strategy back to the agility, the stability and the security. That’s really where continuous deployment comes in, giving you the ability to get that code out to your users quickly, but to be able to do it safely and soundly. So you can control the blast radius, no, look at 5% of your user base, you can start to shift traffic between different users. But ultimately getting that code out there. And really empowering back to empowering and making developers have a great experience, empowering them to deploy on commit, and having that confidence to be able to do that. And having that transparency to watch that code go through Dev through staging, you know, on to production.
Eveline Oehrlich 22:58
Well, just something on the side. For those who don’t know, peanut butter and jelly for us, Europeans, it is red wine and chocolate. Right? Just FYI. But so armory provides products and solutions in that space. Tell us a little bit about what you guys have to offer in that area.
Adam Frank 23:24
Yeah, absolutely. So we specialize in continuous deployment. And in particular, we have a declarative model, we’re deploying out to Kubernetes. And in fact, we were the first and still the only that I’m aware of that has a declarative model that actually orchestrates that deployment across all of your Kubernetes clusters and environments. No matter how many you have. It’s really at any scale. So you know, hooking up to continuous integration like GitHub using GitHub actions. So empower developers to be able to deploy on commit, and orchestrate that deployment. Throughout dev tests. We integrate with things like security scanning, integrate with logging solutions, observability solutions to be able to run automated Canary analysis. So you understand, is this change affecting my user base? How is it affecting my user base? Is it close to the baseline baseline is the same, all that kind of really good stuff, to really help our customers accelerate their time to market? You know, move quicker, have that agility that they need to understand their users and their user base, iterate quickly. But do it in a nice, safe, sound and reliable way? Wow,
Eveline Oehrlich 24:40
great. You are really wicked smart about all these topics. I love it. This is great. We could continue. But I have been looking at the clock and it’s amazing how quickly 25 minutes pass. So I have a closing question has nothing To Do With CI CD, or maybe a little bit with peanut butter and jelly or red wine and chocolate, but what do you do for fun if you don’t do what you do at your teams as an ambassador or otherwise? What do you do for fun, Adam?
Adam Frank 25:14
Yes, sir. Certainly closer to the red wine and jelly. Having grown up in Canada, you really need to do something throughout the winter months. So since it is the very beginning of March, the sun is starting to shine. But there’s still snow on the ground here. I very much enjoy snowboarding. I’ve played hockey for a lot of my life and playing sports. But most importantly, I have a beautiful daughter who has almost a year and a half, and a fantastic wife and partner. So I very much enjoy spending a lot of my time with them. And just watching her grow right now is one of the funniest things that that I could possibly do with my dad.
Eveline Oehrlich 25:57
Oh, fantastic. That is fantastic. Embrace it, because they grow up fast. I have two daughters myself, and they are 25 and 27. And oh, well. I love them. But they’re, they’re their own. This has been fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for talking to us and sharing your wealth of knowledge, your excitement and your I can hear the passion. And I could hear the little accent there. There’s another thing we have in common. I used to live in Colorado, I love to ski and I have an accent because I’m from Germany. And um, this has been great. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for the pleasure. We have been talking to Adam Frank, Senior Vice President, product and marketing at armory. Adam again, wonderful. Enjoy. Hopefully the upcoming weekend soon have some fun with your daughter. And here is again humans of the ops podcast is produced by DevOps Institute. Our audio production team includes Julia pape, and Brendan Lee. I am humans of DevOps podcast, executive producer evolutionarily. If you would like to join us on the podcast, please contact us at humans of DevOps podcast at DevOps institute.com. I cannot imagine a longer email address and that anyway, I’m Evelyn, I’ll talk to you soon.
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