DevOps Expert John Clipp on the success of Facebook, Netflix and Etsy Through trial and Error

Last week, EXIN was at the FUSION 17 Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida. This is the annual event for service management. We had the great pleasure of meeting DevOps and ITSM expert John Clipp. Now Senior Vice President of TechnoLava, John has more than 30 years of experience in the IT Service Management industry. At FUSION 17 he was awarded the itSMF Contributor of the Year Award. The following interview is the result of our get-together with John Clipp.

DevOps is an emerging trend, but some executives tend to get cold feet regarding new developments. John, what is your advice for CEO's who doubt DevOps is beneficial to their businesses?

I would encourage CEO’s to reach out to peers (CEO’s, CIO’s, CTO’s etc.) in their industry to find out how those organizations may have started to introduce best practices around Application Development and DevOps into their development pipelines.

Another great source of information is industry forums or conferences that include DevOps tracks. The ITSM FUSION Conference, for example, includes a complete track on Agile and DevOps with several presentations from practitioners and organizations that have been successful with the implementation of DevOps practices.

itSMF USA is another great source of information. There are several Communities of Interest (COI) focused on specific topics, including a DevOps COI where you can find several presentations on topics such as an introduction to DevOps, The Impact of DevOps on Service Management, etc.

Facebook, Netflix and Etsy may be the most famous examples of companies that employ the DevOps methodology. But will DevOps always result in success? What did these companies do that made their DevOps deployment successful?

No, there are many organizations that will struggle with making their adoption of DevOps practices a success. Facebook, Netflix and Etsy are some of the early adopters of DevOps. I would imagine that their success has been achieved through much trial and error but most important they have not only made changes to process and technology, but have also made significant cultural and organizational changes throughout their DevOps journey.

Which skills do IT professionals need to have in order to adapt to the emergence of DevOps? And which skills does a real DevOps expert have?

Every individual operating in a DevOps team is required to be competent in all 8 knowledge areas and proficient at the 4 skill levels. In order for DevOps teams to be effective, all 12 areas are required to be at the Expert level. The 8 knowledge areas are Architecture & Design, Business Value Optimization, Business Analysis, Test Specification, Programming, Continuous Delivery, Security, Risk & Compliance, and Infrastructure Engineering. The 4 skill areas are Team Building, Continuous Improvement, Courage and DevOps Leadership.

Pro-active Problem Management could prevent many IT incidents, and save organizations from financial and reputational damage. But in practice, most IT organizations seem to solve problems reactively. Why is this, and what are your thoughts on ways to change it?

Problem Management tends to be one of those processes that many organizations consider as an afterthought and as a result, the maturity level within many organizations is deficient. In order to move from a reactive state to a proactive state, an organization must increase the level of maturity of their Problem Management Process.

I would normally recommend that an organization have an outside or third party come in to conduct a thorough assessment of their Problem Management process. An effective assessment methodology, based on the ISO/IEC 15504/33000 standard includes a SWOT Analysis that will help define the organization’s gaps in achieving a higher level of maturity and lay out a roadmap to achieve a more proactive Problem Management capability.

itSMF USA is another great source of information. There are several Communities of Interest (COI) focused on specific process areas, including a Problem Management COI where you can find several presentations on topics such as Proactive Problem Management, Assessments, Metrics, etc.

Thank you for your great insights, John!