DevOps Institute

[EP88] Breaking Down Silos with Rami Tamir


In this episode, Eveline Oehrlich is joined by Rami Tamir, Co-founder and CEO of Salto.  They discuss DevOps for Business Applications, help listeners understand the topic of BizOps, no-code and its opportunities.

Rami Tamir is  the Co-founder and CEO of Salto. Salto reimagines the way business applications are configured and managed. They do so by bringing concepts and methodologies from the software development and DevOps worlds – the use of structured language, version control and automation – into the business operations environment.

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Narrator 0:02
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.

Rami 0:13
I don’t think there’s a skill. A DevOps is usually a DevOps engineer is a DevOps engineer and I’m dealing with AWS Lambda. I have have an expertise. I live in the DevOps group, but I have expertise. It’s very similar here.

Eveline Oehrlich 0:34
Hello, my name is Eveline Oehrlich . Welcome to the humans of DevOps podcast, today I am excited to be with a very special guest Rami Tamir on the topic, Breaking Down Silos, which I think is a very fantastic topic to talk through, we’ll travel through a variety of topics. So Rami thanks for being here. I am going to do a little bit of reading to our audience about your background, but I will turn it also to you later on, because there is maybe some holes you want to fill in. So first of all Rami is the co founder and CEO for Salto, Salto was founded in 2019. In 2021, I believe Salto was listed as one of the top 10 Hottest DevOps companies, the word Salto, I can say that because I speak a little Italian means “Jump”, . Right? That’s a great name for a company. So congratulations. Let’s talk a little bit more about Rami what he has done so he has 25 plus years of experience in management of multidisciplinary software development, as an entrepreneur he has a ton of proven track records on different technology companies. He was co founder of Pentacom, which was acquired by Cisco quantum run it or the kernel based virtual Yeah, camera net based virtual machines acquired by Red Hat and Ravello systems acquired by Oracle. There is a trend there in naming and we’ll quiz you on that and you are also an angel investment investors in the early stage startup companies in tech industries and serves on many boards for them, you BSWECS so kind of similar to me, except I don’t have the W E. I have the CSCIS in electrical engineering from Technion and an MBA from Northwestern University in Tel Aviv University. Welcome, Rami. Anything I missed on your background? That you want to share?

Rami 2:48
First of all, thanks for having me. No, I think it’s, it’s pretty extensive. So yeah, we can move on from there.

Eveline Oehrlich 2:56
Excellent. So Salto automates configuration of popular enterprise SaaS applications. So we’re talking Salesforce, NetSuite, Marketo, and many others. And for me, as a DevOps person, sharing with our audiences uses, and leverages a variety of DevOps principles, really to manage configurations. So a lot of codeless, low code work to help Biz Ops to be faster, better, more proactive, etc, etc. So give us your definition and what it is really that Salto actually solves?

Rami 3:40
It’s pretty simple, actually. When you look at what companies are doing today to manage their pre called business operation, we can elaborate on that later. It’s done using a cluster of cloud applications, the likes of Salesforce and NetSuite and JIRA, Zendesk, etc, etc. Typical company will run 10s, and hundreds of those and essentially, when you get those platform, you sign up to this platform, you get data skin, you get a database, and you have to start morphing adapts to a business and that work is done using a no code way of doing things, it doesn’t have code. It they’re coding for, to some extent, but mostly it’s a no code thing. So when you look at the day to day of people doing that, when when you start a company, and I’ve done that a few times, as you mentioned, it’s simple. You basically bring on a contractor and you do some work and it’s nice, you have maybe one admin, things are good. When the business starts to pick up, it becomes really complex, because these are mission critical applications. Because if your sales were stopped if your NetSuite stops if any of those platforms stop, you have a problem. The business slowed down and When you look at the way, no code platforms are being developed, it’s essentially an ad hoc process done differently from company to another very error prone very manual relies on tribal knowledge, meaning they’re not, you know, this guy know that that person knows something else. And when when it becomes complex, when the business picks up, and it doesn’t take a lot of time, things start to break. In the basic things, I’ll give you three examples, what is implemented, in order to understand what is implemented in Salesforce, you have to go through a click and point point and click marathon to understand what is that? How do you design review. So I have a change I want to make. What is the language that I stick to my peer in order to show them what I’m doing, like the day to day thing in the development process? How do I revert to change? How do I kind of share the knowledge with some someone else, et cetera, et cetera. And all of all of these are things that were sold in the last two to three decades very well in the software delivery and software development world. So what we’re trying to do as a company is very simple. Trying to see if we can coordinate to see if you can call, we try to copy concepts from the DevOps software delivery world in there. And the first step of doing that is create a common language. Because as I said before, there is no language to speak, you know, between the two peers working on the same project. So what we what we did is we created an open source project, it’s called Saudi, you can find it on GitHub, that, essentially in a very basic level, connects to those platforms, using their API, their open API’s, and extract the schema or the metadata configuration of the configuration. And then we form it formatted in what we call knuckle, which stands for if you want not another configuration language, or the chemical sign for salts, also a lot of geeky references. But this is a glorified JSON. That allows you to start doing things in a code kind of way, this is what we call it. This is why we call it companies code. Once you have textual representation or coder presentation on those platforms, you can start doing software like things. I mean, you can put it in Git, you can create versions, you can revert changes, you can share the knowledge with someone else, you can start explore the other side of the of the house, if you will. And that’s what we essentially do, obviously, we go way beyond that. But that’s the basic basic, saying, having said all that, we do not expect admins of this platform to write code. This is not what we’re doing. We think no code is a great thing, is a great thing. It’s an amazing thing. What we’re trying to do is once you’ve done your feature, using your platform, Salesforce, whatever platform, you can extract that configuration, we call it discovery of fetch, and you have only to change it codified. And once you have your changes codified, you can start doing all the process that we used to this is kind of a very high level description of what we do.

Eveline Oehrlich 8:22
So that makes me think of a term when I was at Forrester Research, we did a lot of let’s say, listening in, of course, to what Gartner had to say and they they face this term, citizen developer, right, and ServiceNow picked up on that quite a bit. So what I heard is, this really enables citizen developers or business technologists that was our term at Forrester to do things themselves without inhibiting or bringing in a developer and a large team to actually make whatever they need to do in terms of business processes, in terms of connections, integrations, logics, etc, etc. Right? Is that correct?

Rami 9:07
There’s two sides to what you say here, I’ll break it down. So the local platforms allow any citizen developer to do that work. The problem is, what happens when these changes start to accumulate. And you want to have something that is efficient, that doesn’t have a technical debt that makes sense that connect between the other stimulus system to another because essentially, all of this system tried to create one solution. And there will we come in, we’d like to solve these people create solutions. And when you create a solution, you’re essentially an engineer. You’re not a software developer, per se, because you’re not using software tools or code. But you are an engineer, we try to call them business engineers, because these are people who are getting very, very complex tasks, very complex task similar to software developer development. They’re handling mission critical application, but at the end of the day, they don’t have enough tools, processes methodology to solve those problems. If you look at what was done again, in the software delivery software development world in the last three decades is infrastructure and processes and know how to solve very complex problem is a large team with the understanding that you will make mistake mistakes, and you have to solve them. What is the process of evolutionary getting to a better state, they don’t have that in either side, this is what we’re trying to solve. We call them business engineers, because we feel they are the perfect line between engineers and people who knows the business or know the business. So I think that’s a good term. And we’re trying to give them the right tools, methodologies, and way to work in a in a, in a sane way. Because doing it manually. It’s, it’s a recipe for failure.

Eveline Oehrlich 10:48
So what is it that business engineers do, it is actually Biz Ops, right? That’s the term which I am actually an INO ops, or an IT ops. So what I do in IT ops is what these folks do in business. Right? Help me and our listeners to compare and contrast Biz Ops, and DevOps.

Rami 11:16
Yeah, DevOps is a kind of term that has a long span, meaning it’s, it’s it started from the, you know, the amalgamation of development and operations. But today, it’s almost like it’s a style, it’s a movement, it’s, it’s a way of doing things, it’s an understanding that there’s there is a way of actually creating those processes, infrastructure and everything. Biz Ops is today’s just the term, there’s not a lot behind it, this is business applications. And there are different within Biz Ops, you get a lot of force few items like revenue operations that are taken further, etc. But by and large, these are siloed solutions. So a business operation, person or business engineer, should be able to develop a solution on its on its platform and its solution. And to bring it to production. Using a growing team, with the understanding that people will break things, you need to be able to test it. And we will need to automate all the way to take out the human factor the human error factor all the way, all the way to production. And they’re doing it on business applications, and mostly doing it using no code. This is sort of the realm of what what we’re talking about, I’m talking about. But we believe in soldering, what we’re trying to push is the differences or they know that the cutting between business a business operation, and DevOps will start to blur. Because the way we look at things, once you describe it in code, and you want to automate it, and you can use your circle, ci or you can use it to have actions to actually move things around. So you rely on the traditional DevOps people to do that. You want to do testing, you can start using their tools as well. So it will start to blur and you will start to see, you know, we already starting service some customers, places where your TerraForm is actually worked with your Sato representation. And once you have it in code, there’s a lot of tools and architectures and processes to actually bring everything together.

Narrator 13:30
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Eveline Oehrlich 14:02
Great, that that made perfect sense to me. I think I liked that the conversation where it’s going now, this might be a little bit of a silly question, but I will asked it anyway. Is, in your mind, low code, no code a threat to the developer?

Rami 14:21
No, it’s just it’s, I think about it is like, it’s like Python is not a threat to JavaScript. It’s just another way of creating solutions. And the problem with the no code is essentially in the name, you don’t have the code. And the code is an artifact that beyond implementing things gives you structure. Your way to follow up on changes give you a way to it’s a language that people can share. In a way if you’re looking for analogies, like sheet music, if you have an orchestra and you want to make sure that people are talking about the same thing, give them sheet music. If you have two people, you know, jamming together you don’t have to have that But if you want to have a very effective way, you have to have a language. So with code, it’s easy. If you’re using Python, everybody can look at Python go to get, look at what’s happening, changes, Revert things can make themselves acquainted with what’s going on. And you know, you increase the level of knowledge, knowledge, longer learned tribal knowledge. When you go to the no code, part of the world, it’s very much different because you have no language. And this, what we’re trying to solve the basic thing that we’re trying to solve it, let’s give them a language that they can start sharing, let’s give them sheet music. And they can start, you know, playing together as no larger teams.

Eveline Oehrlich 15:37
Yeah, makes sense. So as for DevOps Institute, skills and reskilling and upskilling, of course, is essential. There’s a lot of folks right now, who are as we know, either call it the great reshuffle or call it the great resignation, I rather call it the great shuffle because I think people are starting to change positions for whatever reasons. So if I wanted to be a from a DevOps engineer, if I wanted to become a biz ops, or business engineer, what kind of skills does this individual need? What would you recommend that person to go look at?

Rami 16:18
It’s, so I don’t think there’s a skill, a DevOps skill, usually a DevOps engineer will be I’m a DevOps engineer, and I’m dealing with AWS, lambda, or I have have an expertise, categorized in our I live in the DevOps group. But I have expertise, it’s very similar here. Because my expertise could be I’m a Salesforce engineer. So I know how to handle Salesforce, the processes and tools I’m using is the key into DevOps. So once I’m done doing my stuff, I kind of I fetch them, as I described before, I create a PR pull request, and from there on, the automation will take care of it. But my expertise is geared towards more mature system or what I’m trying to do this way. I’m a Business engineer. So the DevOps part of things is about how the organization or create the processes, tools and infrastructure, my expertise relies on the on what I’m doing the day to day.

Eveline Oehrlich 17:17
A little bit of a side question makes me think of, you know, companies like SAP and the none. Well, they’re, as we know, they’re shifting to the cloud, as well, but does Salto also address those type of business applications, which are non SAS.

Rami 17:38
We have, we have customer requesting there. We’re still a startup, it’s hard for us. To expand beyond. I’ll tell you this. We are we are addressing right now cloud and the fast moving applications, meaning the cloud ones, and the ones that have API, we will at some point go to on prem as well, if the market will require that what we have is a very long list of customer requirements. It’s pretty support the explicit for that and we just go, you know, the number of drivers, but there’s no limitation. Obviously, we can go on prem, it’s just a matter of what do we prioritize right now in what you know, what’s the good one?

Eveline Oehrlich 18:22
Yeah, yeah, that was a little bit of my industry analysts brain showing through. So I apologize. That was my curiosity. And so to go back to the cause of our podcast, lots and lots and lots of silos exist, right? And that’s, I think, thats one of the biggest challenges. Now I listen to a presentation at an event where a gentleman was saying that organizations should not eliminate silos, they should actually continue their silos. Maybe it’s a bit of a nomenclature, right? I think maybe he meant to say, there should be experts, but I thought he said silos. So I wanted to ask you, what are your thoughts on silos in organizations. What do you see within your customers? I read, for example, the company case study you guys had on your website on Monday? I think it’s Right, fairly successful. No longer a startup. So they obviously, have hired a lot of generalists, and they have a really great success story. So for those who are listening in, go look at that case study, but give us your thoughts on silos.

Rami 19:36
Yeah, so that is usually the negative term. I’m trying to think of an example where silos actually looked at this as a positive term. If you know, you should have expertise expertise does not mean silo. If you have silos, it means that you have overhead because you have to recreate everything within each silo. It means that you have to have a very strict way of handing over things from silo to silo because essentially this, this is one organization and you have to have NetSuite and needs to work with Salesforce needs to work with JIRA. So you have to create that you have different cadence between the silos, which means that if one silo decides to release one every six months and another silos decided to release every week, you have a problem, because there’s no way of doing that. Silos create a situation in which you have different quality requirements between this. There’s no way of maintaining silos for long term, unless you really, really strict and you’re really, really big company willing to spend a lot of money for no reason. If you take a look at what happened, it again, we’re trying to mimic in a way the it turning into DevOps, it used to be so used to have in the past, and I used to I live there, you had r&d organization, you had it, you finished development, you tested it, you moved it to it. And every six months, if you’re really good, or every year, you could have another release. That was sort of a silo and we had a very strict policy on how things move. And it was a pain from you know, we moved from release one every year. Now in Saudi we’re doing a few weeks. And it’s not, because we’re smarter, it’s not because we no better people, it’s because we broke the silos, we have better tools infrastructure in order to do that. So I think the goal for each organization should be to break as many silos you can kind of have one organization for automation, one organization for testing, if you need that one organization for that, take care of gate or whatever, and have the experts deal with what they’re experts about. If I have an expert on Salesforce, they don’t need to understand, get only those 10 Release Management, they need to focus on Salesforce. If you have the right infrastructure for that, once they’re done, they move it on, someone else would take care of that, or the automatic process will take care of that. I don’t see any value in silos to be honest. And I’m trying to think of example, while I’m talking I don’t have a good example of subtle, positive silence.

Eveline Oehrlich 22:10
Yeah, I was. I was with my colleague, and we were looking at each other. Absolutely disagreeing with a gentleman because I absolutely agree with you. There is just a lot of I call it a WOT, a waste of time in organizations who have built these very, very entrenched silo teams. And there’s also this NIH right, not invented here, or that finger pointing with, again, with DevOps, where we have blameless and kind of a safety culture. That’s starting to go away, we see an increase in collaboration and all of that is wonderful. All right. Wow. Why is the clock always running so fast when you have a good conversation? And when you have a bad one it is like it just doesn’t move? All right, we have two more questions and then I’ll let you go back to your day job, of course. So if you think about 2023, and here, anything goes, can you pick your favorite? What question are you asking yourself about 2023?

Rami 23:19
Yeah, there’s, you know, beyond the macroeconomic climate, it’s hard. It’s, I can tell you that I can shed a light on the, you know, the startup view on that, because we are startup that grows. And when you’re growing, you trying to adjust you always trying to adjust you look, if you get customer feedback, let’s assume you lose a customer trying to understand why if you adjust, that’s what you’re doing, you kind of read the market and adjust that. But you know how to do this is what startups are good at. We can move really fast. The problem with the climate right now that they’ve cast a long shadow, and everything. So you lost a customer, you’re not really sure if you lost them because of the product, or you lost it because they lost the budget. It’s not it’s not always clear. So it slows things down. Everything becomes slower in your ability to react is it’s more problematic when you have to run few options like brand predictions in parallel in order to understand things. And that usually kind of slows things down this. I think this is the biggest thing I’m trying to understand right now. Trying to sort of crystal ball. When this you know, the derivative will become positive again so we can plan our budgets and everything towards that. I think this is the biggest thing for me to 23 How do I how do we position ourselves correctly to still evolve? While understanding you know the effect of this microclimate? I think this is the biggest thing on my mind.

Eveline Oehrlich 24:55
Yeah, I think you’re speaking out of the heart of many leaders in and across the globe and in different verticals, software companies, NAND software, etc, etc. Fantastic. All right, I have one more question unrelated to Salto. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekend?

Rami 25:16
Well, I like riding motorcycles. Strangely enough. Yeah.

Eveline Oehrlich 25:23
We should meet up somewhere. I used to actually do motocross many, many years ago. I don’t do that today anymore. It’s a little too dangerous. But what do you ride? What machine do you have?

Rami 25:34
So I am doing track days. I have an affiliate obviously for now. And I have an off road one. I broke, I broke many bones. I have like, the amount of scars I have it. It’s, it’s amazing. So I like that. And, um, because of what you said, because of the risk. I’m starting to think about maybe bicycle, it’s something I need to get back to as well. Because the you know, the tools is, is fun. So you need to figure out a way to break loose bones. So that’s my focus right now.

Eveline Oehrlich 26:12
Excellent. Well, this has been a great conversation. I really much appreciate it. Our listeners are appreciating it. For those of you who want to know more Salto can be found much more information. Rami, thank you for bringing wisdom to us. Great, great conversation. Next time maybe we do a little motorcycle podcast on how to hurt ourselves less or maybe should the conversation to the biking. I appreciate it.

Rami 26:44
That’ll be amazing. That’s much more interesting. Motorcycles are more interesting. Yeah. So if you can do that, that’d be great.

Eveline Oehrlich 26:50
That sounds great. Let’s think about that. Super, thank you so much. Have a great day and thank you again for everybody listening in today, Eveline Oehrlich, Humans of DevOps podcast at the DevOps Institute with Rami Tamir. from Salto. Thank you. Bye. Thank you.

Narrator 27:09
Thanks for listening to this episode of the humans of DevOps podcast. Don’t forget to join our global community to get access to even more great resources like this. Until next time, remember, you are part of something bigger than yourself. You belong

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