Scaling Agile and DevOps in the Enterprise

Best Practice for Enterprise DevOps and Agile

The original blog post can be found here.


In a recent Continuous Discussions (#c9d9) video podcast, expert panelists discussed scaling Agile and DevOps in the enterprise.

Our expert panel included: Gary Gruver, co-author of “Leading the Transformation, A Practical Approach to Large-Scale Agile Development,” and “Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise”; Mirco Hering, a passionate Agile and DevOps change agent; Rob Hirschfeld, CEO at RackN; Steve Mayner, Agile coach, mentor and thought leader; Todd Miller, delivery director for Celerity’s Enterprise Technology Solutions; and, our very own Anders Wallgren and Sam Fell.

During the episode, the panelists discussed lessons learned with regards to leadership, teams and the pipeline and patterns that can be applied for scaling Agile and DevOps in the Enterprise.

Scaling Agile vs. Scaling DevOps

Talk about both the technology and processes when it comes to DevOps, says Hirschfeld: “One thing I would say is that people often get confused about with DevOps is DevOps is very much process-focused. But, it’s okay to talk about the tech. I’m the type of person that says let’s actually think about the tech. It’s okay to be excited about Chef, Puppet, Ansible, CI/CD pipelines and all those things. I think it’s healthy to infuse DevOps tech with DevOps the process.”

DevOps is all about plumbing the last mile, explains Wallgren: “One of the things we’ve seen quite a bit with our customers and in talking to people is that (probably unintentionally) Agile became a local optimization for engineering and development. We got into the whole aspect of product ownership and Scrum and stories and all of that stuff. One of the things I talk about very often is how, practically speaking, DevOps has become a lot about plumbing the last mile. Plumbing the last mile from when you check in a piece of code to when it’s available for the customer. Engineering teams have become pretty good at delivering functionality. They would have two week spreads to deliver functionality, but then it would take 90 days to put it into production. There was a lot of work in progress on the factory floor so to speak. We’ve got a little bit better at recognizing that as a problem. It’s one of those lessons where you haven’t really solved a problem until you solved it all the way through to the end user. Agile was all about that from the beginning, but I think practically speaking a lot of us looked at it as a way to solve engineering problems, and left the whole delivery to customer part as an exercise for the art people to solve.”

It’s not just about Agile vs. DevOps, scaling itself is a whole other ball game, per Hering: “I think scaling is entirely different to just doing Agile or DevOps. Someone told me once if you have four people in a room, you don’t need a methodology or any kind of formalized way of working. I think as soon as you get to complexity – to scale, to distributions – as you’re working across many different locations, that’s when you really need to start formalizing. Where people struggle is either not having anything formalized, or being overly prescriptive and completely drowning out of the innovation part. That’s why we are struggling with that because it’s the tension between those two and that’s very much the same for Agile and DevOps.”

Gruver discusses the challenges of releasing code when scaling up: “The challenge became when Agile scaled into the enterprise, releasing code in tightly coupled systems became more difficult. You either started with small teams that were able to do that or you went into organizations that had challenges and architecturally changed it towards small teams that can independently develop, qualify and deploy code. The reality is most large organizations don’t have that architectural decoupling, so they have to coordinate the work across a large number of people and that is challenging. So, when Agile scaled into the enterprise a lot of people left that behind because it was hard. I think DevOps really started to gain momentum because Agile dropped that basic principle as it scaled in the enterprise. It became a lot more about technology with Jez Humble’s book around Continuous Delivery and infrastructure-as-code. Those were the types of things that were making it difficult for release code on a frequent basis and maintain quality.”

It isn’t enough just to say you are Agile, says Fell: “If you think about the Agile manifesto, I think number 12 is ‘Enable a Continuous Delivery of valuable updates to the end user.’ Even back then they knew that just being Agile in itself is not enough, you have to actually deliver that to somebody and taking those practices and pushing them downstream.”

What does it really mean to be Agile? Miller explains: “The core of being Agile is to be able to incrementally deliver. So, I’m going to go put my developer goggles on and see how many times I can tell you where I checked something in and everybody gets late, and my answer is, but it works on my machine. It might not work in an environment or it might work on half of the people’s machine – I think that DevOps helps to cure that. Are you really Agile? Unless you’re continuously delivering, I think that’s a state where everybody wants to be in. One of the first questions I ask when I’m going into an organization that says they are Agile is, ‘What’s your release cycle look like?’ A lot of times I hear, ‘Oh we are Agile, we release every three months.’”

Mayner talks about the Agile mindset: “When we began the Agile conversation we heard it said a lot that it really is much more about the mindset. The Lean Agile mindset, both at the practitioner level, at the leadership level, and throughout the organization. I would say as we’ve moved into the DevOps conversation it’s really the same. I’ve seen a lot of conversations around technologies and practices, but to understand why this works differently, why this is more than just different tools and different labels for things, it’s a much deeper, richer conversation.”


For more on leadership, teams and best practices, check out the full blog post here.

More Stories By Anders Wallgren

Anders Wallgren is Chief Technology Officer of Electric Cloud. Anders brings with him over 25 years of in-depth experience designing and building commercial software. Prior to joining Electric Cloud, Anders held executive positions at Aceva, Archistra, and Impresse. Anders also held management positions at Macromedia (MACR), Common Ground Software and Verity (VRTY), where he played critical technical leadership roles in delivering award winning technologies such as Macromedia’s Director 7 and various Shockwave products.

Latest Stories
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Kevin Jackson joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized cloud computing expert and Founder/Author of the award winning "Cloud Musings" blog. Mr. Jackson has also been recognized as a "Top 100 Cybersecurity Influencer and Brand" by Onalytica (2015), a Huffington Post "Top 100 Cloud Computing Experts on Twitter" (2013) and a "Top 50 C...
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
Daniel Jones is CTO of EngineerBetter, helping enterprises deliver value faster. Previously he was an IT consultant, indie video games developer, head of web development in the finance sector, and an award-winning martial artist. Continuous Delivery makes it possible to exploit findings of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to increase the productivity and happiness of our teams.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...
Evan Kirstel is an internationally recognized thought leader and social media influencer in IoT (#1 in 2017), Cloud, Data Security (2016), Health Tech (#9 in 2017), Digital Health (#6 in 2016), B2B Marketing (#5 in 2015), AI, Smart Home, Digital (2017), IIoT (#1 in 2017) and Telecom/Wireless/5G. His connections are a "Who's Who" in these technologies, He is in the top 10 most mentioned/re-tweeted by CMOs and CIOs (2016) and have been recently named 5th most influential B2B marketeer in the US. H...