DevOps Institute

[E11] Global Perspective of DevOps (APAC) with Dheeraj Nayal


Dheeraj Nayal, Global Community Ambassador and Business Head for the Asia Pacific, Japan region for DevOps Institute, discusses enterprise adoption of DevOps globally in the past few years, what’s going on in the APEC J region as far as DevOps skills transformation, and his role supporting the global community.

The lightly edited transcript can be found below.


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. Here’s your host, DevOps Institute CEO, Jayne Groll.

Jayne Groll:

Hi everyone. It’s Jayne Groll, CEO of the DevOps Institute. Welcome to another episode of the Humans of DevOps podcast. I’m delighted today in particular to spend some time with my colleague, Dheeraj Nayal, who is our Global Community Ambassador and Business Head for the Asia Pacific, Japan region and has a lot of insight into what’s going on globally with DevOps, but particularly looking at Southeast Asia, Australia and the area surrounding that. So, welcome Dheeraj.

Dheeraj Nayal:

Thank you so much, Jane. It’s a delight to join you with this amazing podcast.

Jayne Groll:

Well thanks. Let’s start off really kind of on the easier side. You and I both had the privilege of being engaged in DevOps, perhaps longer than some who might be listening. What have you seen say in the last year or two in terms of enterprise adoption of DevOps globally?

Dheeraj Nayal:

All right Jane. In fact, one of the things which I keep on doing on a regular basis is talk about specific stats. Typically I want to highlight some of the stats over here as well at the beginning of the conversation. $5 trillion, I mean $5 trillion is the estimate that has been dated in the state of enterprise digital transformation that has been spent on digital transformation efforts worldwide, which is really significant. I mean, we’re talking about some of the overall economies of many medium to small-sized countries as well.

The most interesting part is out of these more than 50% of digital transformation efforts have been failed in recent years. To align with the same, I mean, talking about big enterprise like GE, Ford or Proctor & Gamble, they have invested around $900 billion. There has been a significant impact around the digital transformation, as well as some of the efforts that has also been pointed towards the investment around DevOps as a whole. Because DevOps around a decade or more has been at the heart of digital transformation. That’s why many of the organization from the variety of industries like high tech or media or telecom, out of all these, only around 26% roughly have seen success.

And these are typically the organization which have able to not just adopt DevOps as a practice but also able to implement it successfully. And one of the biggest reasons which have been shared by these enterprises, which have seen many of the failures is the of course the effective communication, the lack of effective communication of talking about their goals, strategy, their purpose and outlook with their employees. But more essentially the lack of focus on the human element. And that’s what also resonates from my personal perspective as well.

Because as a mission from our end of advancing the Humans of DevOps, we engage regularly with our partners, the industry partners, the leaders who are going massive transformation. And that’s why I essentially mentioned these tags, because these are definitely some massive transformation which is happening. And if the human element is not at the core or heart of it, it’s definitely going to be on those 75% of those scenarios that ultimately we need to failure.

So that is also getting resonated in the regional front as well. But typically for like a set of from the personal person side as well as from the organization side, the overall intent is to make sure that each of the leaders, each of the enterprises, each of the professionals know that is always going to be the humans first before anything related to the process of technology as a whole as part of digital transformation.

Jayne Groll:

So you know, it’s interesting about that is that it is kind of history a little bit repeating itself, right? Where in IT, because for some technology focus we think that we solve all problems by adding more tech. And so there were so many in the earlier days of DevOps, and DevOps is still fairly young, that assume that by introducing continuous integration and continuous delivery technology that they would somehow magically be successful in what’s known as DevOps.

And if you think of the origins of DevOps, where it was the interoperability of development and operations for humans. Changing humans is a lot harder than adding technology. And I think a lot of organizations are realizing that it is the human factor. In the beginning there was a lot of talk about culture and culture is really important. Creating an organizational culture that is supportive of the humans is so important. But I think that it was kind of an assumption that you could mandate culture, right? You could say, “We now have a new culture.” And of course humans are smarter than that, right?

So I think that as we start to progress into this new decade, we’re going to see a lot more emphasis on the human element. And of course with DevOps Institute, that’s our mission, right? Our mission is to advance the human elements of DevOps and I think organizations are realizing that humans are their greatest enablers and greatest constraints.

Dheeraj Nayal:

Absolutely. And like you rightly said, I mean business is all about the people, the humans. It’s about appreciating, it’s about capitalizing and everything that makes those people human as a … Not just as a resource but the real humans. Because also there was a large conference in Indonesia just last week talking about from the Asia Pacific perspective and certain [inaudible] and he also reiterated that the reality is that the most company have become software companies. It doesn’t matter whether their end business of service is related to software or not, but essentially each, my business or enterprises are running on softwares.

And now talking about the human as part of it. There is also now a huge skills gap that is across all industries and talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution which has been quoted as of now, the skills gap across all industries are poised to grow. And that has been resonated in the World Economic Forum this year as well and almost half of the employees will require significant reskilling by 2022 or by 2025 as well.

So like I shared initially, it’s related to the massive transformation. But it’s also at the same time alignment with the humans, the professionals who are driving this digital era and also providing the capabilities or the resources for them to enable the various upskilling initiatives which is going to be or are already the heart of various transformation across the enterprises.

Jayne Groll:

Well, for you and for those listening DevOps Institute recently released its 2020 Upskilling Enterprise DevOps Skills Report, a project, a community research project that we started in 2018 and now we’re able to do a year over year comparison from year to year and it is very clear. It is clear that only about 35% of organizations have created formal upskilling programs. It certainly is clear that the DevOps journey is difficult and that it does require the engagement of humans.

But I think equally as important, the skills gap has really affected enterprise growth. And data from the upskilling report in particular shows some of the regional differences. But it very much affirms that on a personal level, the humans themselves also have to look at becoming hybrids, right? So we talk about hybrid cloud, we talk about hybrid apps, right? And now we need to talk about hybrid humans, which are developers who have good competency in testing or in security, right?

We talked a lot last year about T-shaping, right? Where you still have the stem of your T being your deep competency and the top of your T being filled with a broad range of other skills. And those are the individuals that whether they groom themselves to be T-shaped or hybrid or their organization instills in them, those are the people that are going to be able to transform societies, global societies. Because they have taken the initiative to be able to have a wide range of different skills. And again, for those listening at the end, we’ll give you some information about how to download both the 2019 and the 2020 report.

Let’s pivot a little bit Dheeraj, because you have a really good lens on a region of the world that has a large investment in tech, a region of the world that obviously has a lot of enterprise and a region of the world that has seen exponential growth, particularly in technology industries over the last decade or two. So what’s going on in the APEC J region as far as DevOps, as far as skills transformation?

Dheeraj Nayal:

Right Jayne. So talking about some of the history behind the DevOps adoption in the APJ region. So as you know, when DevOps became a mainstream movement, APEC was the region which was a late adopter. And currently the adoption rate is the highest as compared to any other region. Why it’s happening is it’s definitely not many support centers, not many professionals of the global enterprises are also based out in Asia Pacific and Japan region. Typically in the countries like India, Singapore, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.

And that’s why the majority of the adoption around DevOps implementation has been done in these countries. And now it has also in these countries have also gone through the maturity stage. And it’s also aligned with the global upskilling plans which the global enterprises are launching. So for example, Amazon in 2019 already announced around an investment of $700 million to train 100,000 workers by 2025 and the majority of that is also located in the APJ region as well.

So there is a tremendous opportunity for the professionals to also take advantage of this upskilling plan and like you said, become those T-shaped professional, become the modern IT professional, which the enterprises are looking to hire. Because they also need to fill a lot of skills gap. And there are various announcement which comes, now just recently PricewaterhouseCoopers has committed spending around $3 billion on job training for almost around 275,000 employees. Which again takes we’re back to the conversation which we are having initially about massive transformation that is being caused due to the digital adoption.

And similarly, I mean Accenture has rolled out a plan of investing a whole billion dollar that is going to be on every year that will be spent on their upskilling plans as well. So there are these kind of announcement, these kind of investment backed by stats, data creating a portrait for the professionals. But at the same time the professionals, the humans also need to align with the enterprises approach of adopting those T-shaped skills.

And that’s where if I talk specifically about some of the countries, like in India it’s DevOps is almost at the maturity stage, or much at the mainstream. Just recently I was at the Kubernetes Forum, which is organized by CNCF, thousands of professionals at the entry level to the leadership level are engaged with the DevOps adoption, engaged with the related adoption around Kubernetes, and now with site reliability engineering role coming into mainstream.

So these are the countries like India, Singapore, Australia, followed closely by Japan, which is fueling the adoption of emerging roles as well, while also creating a guiding part for the other countries to follow suit. So just next week one of our premier education partner in Indonesia is doing a large DevOps conference in Indonesia, almost around 500 people joining in. And it’s very interesting to note as well that majority of the organization, which are the startups are the ones which are leading the charge for DevOps adoption and are turning into unicorns with large side’s valuation with around five to $10 billion as well.

So like I said, I mean APEC as of now is leading the charts in terms of the DevOps adoption, the rate which is happening. And also the success stories which are coming as part of it, not just from the enterprise perspective but also from the professional’s perspective, the human elements perspective in which the professionals has become those modern IT professionals, the hybrid humans which you were talking about in order to provide those essential feedback, essential tools, essential resources back to the enterprise, fueling their business goals.

So really excited to see how this trend is going to move ahead for the next few years as well. Because with all the reports that has been generated by various regional entities aligned with global forums like World Economic Forum, they’re recruiting at NCs like LinkedIn, all those top 10 hiring roles. Majority of them are aligned with DevOps or SRE, which is making it really interesting and also creating tons of opportunities for the professionals to get upskilled.

Jayne Groll:

So, well thank you for that Dheeraj. And while we’re talking about humans, I think we’d be remiss if we ignore the fact that the humans are also facing a new challenge. And that’s in the form of the impact of coronavirus, right? So whether it’s a short-term problem or a long-term problem, in person conferences are being affected. Certainly there are so many health and growth issues that are associated with it. And I’m really delighted working with you and the rest of our team to look at some of those challenges as we advance the Humans to DevOps and try to find ways to provide support.

And so recently we made a couple of announcements and I think it’s important to reinforce them here and to hear your perspective, particularly regionally. So we know and we still support the idea of physical training. We have an amazing network of education partners around the world that deliver a curriculum against our certification that’s beyond compare, right? The instructors, the organizations, they really do face the Humans of DevOps.

But we also know that in times like this and with the different ways that humans learn that even still want to demonstrate their competency. So we introduced an open testing program where while we still strongly encourage people to take a training class, any human at DevOps that wants to demonstrate their competency by directly acquiring the certification exam through DevOps Institute will be able to do that. So anyone listening, if you want to test yourself against DevSecOps Continuous Delivery Architecture, DevOps Leadership, cycle liability, engineering foundation, DevOps Foundation and DevOps Test Engineering, you are welcome after March 20th to come to the DevOps Institute website and purchase and register for the exam under the open testing model.

And we think hopefully that will supplement the education but also support the ability to demonstrate in a skill constrained environment. We’re also introducing a series of virtual SKILup Days that will be really micro focused, almost like micro events on a particular topic or a particular locality. And the platform that we’ll be using really does replicate a live conference event with some of the same characteristics of an exhibit hall and networking lounge. The ability to have a hallway track and of course some amazing and diverse presentations all focused on how.

So from our part being able to support our partners, being able to open up testing so that people can proudly demonstrate their competency through certification. And then by moving to virtual SKILup days, it’s my hope that we can support that global community. What do you think about that from an APEC chain perspective Dheeraj?

Dheeraj Nayal:

Right Jane, and thanks for bringing it as part of the conversation. Because essentially I’m really keen to also mention about the same. So when last year when we launched the SKIL framework, typically it was a guidance for the humans to understand that the learning is not just confined to specific training or certification. It is also related to additional code elements like the knowledge base ticket, the ideas which comes as part of their own continuous learning journey. And how they learn as part of their own continuous learning template is all conceptualized as part of that skill framework.

And so glad that now this SKIL framework is supporting the overall community, because it’s not just the trainings or the certifications which are equally essential or valuable for them, but also the add-on resources which we provide as an association around various research reports, the eBooks, the articles, and also bringing in our various forums, like you mentioned about the Virtual SKILup, which is a followup regional to global level online summit that is a followup summit when we did as part of a global SKILup Day end of last year as well.

And typically with adding it with various webinars as well as various virtual workshops or virtual SKILup minutes, which is part of it. Each and everything boils down to the fact of mitigating such kind of issues that arises, like the ongoing coronavirus, which is beyond the control of anyone or I’m not able to plan about it as well. But with these kind of resources or this kind of SKIL template available for the professional, they are able to also retreat their learning journey and able to consume these ardent resources which becomes available from DevOps Institute, from our education partners and also from our global pool of ambassadors which are experts and have been sharing a lot of relevant content, lot of relevant guidance. Which helps the professionals, the humans to not just learn but also gain those actionable knowledge to apply in their respective roles as well.

So this is already helping our partners as well as their customers along with industry forums as well. While they’re also making a lot of contributions and support to mitigate and also make it easily accessible and available to the professionals to align with the upskilling requirement from the enterprises. And typically what we’re also are going to see in the coming times the conception of these online repositories, the virtual forums will shoot up quite a lot. Because that’s also as part of the commitment which is of the enterprises and their professionals are getting into. Because the idea is to avoid more physical interaction as of now and considering the APJ region has been the effected the most.

So we will see the same at least for a few months until the situation gets a bit under control. And certainly like I said, there are a lot many additional avenues and resources available for them. And from the personal capacity along with our global community, we are really also looking forward to contribute and support these upskilling initiatives related to the entire global community along with our regional APJ community as well.

Jayne Groll:

Well Dheeraj, thank you for bringing up the ambassadors. So, first thing just to kind of frame it a little bit, seeing the indicators and even before coronavirus became an influence in the way that the world is working today. I mean that happened very, very rapidly. DevOps Institute, our mission is to advance the humans in DevOps. And so we’ve been trying to respond to the needs of those humans bond through our SKIL skills, knowledge, ideas and learning framework.

But even in response to what’s happening, we’re seeing so many events cancel. We’re seeing so many people that are confused. So many businesses that are trying to establish safety policies that help protect their humans while continuing to grow their businesses is interesting. And in the words of Zig Ziglar, somebody I really admire, think about the words react and respond, right?

If you react to a medication that’s bad, but if you respond to it, it’s well. And I’m really proud of the fact that I think we’ve been responding to what we’ve been seeing emerging in this space even before coronavirus. And our ambassadors are going to help us do that. The ambassador program now has I think about 50 different ambassadors from around the world. Each of whom has experience. Each of whom has passion and each of whom has the willingness to help the humans at DevOps on the local level and also on the global level.

So if you’re an ambassador listening, just thank you, we’re very, very grateful for that. And we will continue to advance the Humans of DevOps in whatever way we possibly can. Again, moving to Virtual SKILup Days, our flagship, Global SKILup Day in December. Looking at our research that we’ve done in upskilling and more. But I think also kind of drawing the lines with the vendors, drawing the lines with the influencers and the thought leaders as well. And Dheeraj I thank you, because you’ve been a really strong contributor to helping us grow in that direction.

But this podcast is not about us, it’s about the humans, right? And so going forward, what do you see this year Dheeraj in your region, but also globally in terms of will the situation with coronavirus slows down, will it help us change direction, will it … What do you think will happen?

Dheeraj Nayal:

Right Jane. So typically like you said, I mean it is leading to a lot of disruption as of now and it certainly already has been shared by World Economic Forum as well that it is going to impact economies at a larger scale as well. And it will also be depending upon in the coming weeks how it is, either contained and controlled, or either spread mode. So hoping and keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn’t get worse from here.

But based on the current status which we have as of now, it surely is going to impact the countries in which these massive transformation is going on. Because these are the countries like India, Australia, Japan, China or Singapore if I talk about from the regional perspective in which these massive transformation is undergoing. But also it’s now the government, the regional governments are acting to support the transformation to mitigate any of the damages that can be reduced or can be minimized, at least soon as possible.

And there are some really positive signs coming in as part of it. So for example, Singapore government, so in Singapore we have been really instrumental in upskilling the professionals in respect to various DevOps programs, but to lead it to our regional partners over there. And Singapore is currently is definitely impacted a lot by coronavirus. So not many people are having a flexibility to work from home. Those online base meetings are more as of now, but also the government is backing the upskilling initiatives by providing additional benefits as part of the funding from the government.

So each of the professional by end of the year in Singapore will be able to get additional funding from the government to upskilling themselves. Because they do not want these external cases to impact their internal workforce and also making sure that they can get the desired help and support like we tend to do from our end for the global community. Similarly they are doing what they can do from the going perspective as well. Similarly we are seeing the same in India as well. So India and government is already planning those kind of funding plans aligned with mitigating such issues. I just had a interesting conversation with our Australian partners. With Australia as of now, fortunately not much of the impact has been there. But also typically depends on certain readiness of those countries as well. How ready they are to contain these kind of further epidemic which can come across.

So certainly, like I said initially for the coming months, it is going to impact the businesses across sectors. But at the same time with the collective efforts and with the collective community coming together, when I say community, not just from our perspective. But as a whole from the business, from the leaders, from the government, from the industry, from the professionals in which they are able to find out the best possible approach and solutions aligned with also mitigating of coronavirus, both from the regional and global perspective. I’m giving the avenues for each of the professionals and the humans of DevOps and UIT to continue their learning journey as well.

Jayne Groll:

So that’s fantastic, thank you. So about out of time. So again, I’ll be interested if you and I get together again in a few months and hopefully in a few months from now the situation with coronavirus is controlled. I know there’s a lot of active medical work being done on that. And I’ll also be interested in seeing if this is a societal shift, right? So that it becomes something that changes the way we work, which changes the way we think, and of course changes the enterprise’s reliance on technology when really we should be relying on humans as much as technology because they’re the ones that drive it.

Anyhow Dheeraj, thank you for your insight as always, bringing us a data perspective, bringing us a regional perspective and for your passion for helping the Humans of DevOps, really appreciate it.

Dheeraj Nayal:

Thank you so much Jayne for having me, and looking forward to keep supporting the Humans of DevOps and new IT globally.

Jayne Groll:

Thank you. So again, if you’re listening, this is the Humans of DevOps podcast. As I mentioned, we recently released the upskilling 2020 Enterprise DevOps skills report. I invite you to go to Download a copy, the data’s very deep and very insightful. And stay tuned, we’ll be announcing more and more of the podcast episodes as well as Virtual SKILup Days in the near future. Stay safe and stay healthy.


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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