Blue and Green Infinity Loop
DevOps Infinity Loop

It’s always an exciting experience to join fellow Project Managers for the monthly Orange County PMI Chapter Advanced Topics Seminar. The best parts of these ATS gatherings is the opportunity to reconnect with fellow PM’s, and the opportunity to stretch your knowledge base by hearing from presenters with varied life and work experiences. Not every ATS is going to deal with a specific area of Project or Program Management that many of us work in daily, but it is exciting and fulfilling to learn new methods and ways to help our processes to be more perfect. If you have not joined us for one yet it is 4 hours one Saturday a month well spent and a great way to earn four PDU’s towards the renewal of your PMP.

Blue and Green Infinity Loop
DevOps Infinity Loop

As already stated, some topics stretch us outside our current knowledge areas. Such was the case for me with this topic. Our presenter was the very eloquent and highly qualified Mr. Jeff Freeman. Jeff holds a BS in Engineering, a MS in Software Engineering, and is currently Senior IT Program Manager with Cisco Systems. In addition to his accomplishments in the IT Engineering field Jeff is also a published author of, “Unleash the Beast In You” available on Amazon Prime and Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/Unleash-Beast-You-Pillars-Performance/dp/1507600194

Jeff Freeman

The presentation was divided into four agenda topics:

  1. Digital Transformation and DevOps.
  2. DevOps Essentials.
  3. DevOps Mechanics (How does it Work?)
  4. DevOps and Project Management

The objectives accomplished in the presentation were to; introduce DevOps and explore how Digital Transformation is impacted; discuss DevOps from a PM / non-engineering perspective; how DevOps impacts PM’s; and finally explain how PM’s need to adjust to this new DevOps environment.

If you are like me, the first thing you need to understand is the definition of what DevOps is. DevOps is a methodology. It requires establishing cross-functional teams that integrate and work together to solve business needs. DevOps increases efficiency and delivers faster by doing away with the traditional “silo” mentality. We are all familiar with the silo methodology of development, testing, QA, and operations. DevOps bypasses the more traditional waterfall linear workflows.

DevOps has effectively been integrated into the processes of some of the highest profile most successful and valued companies. Some of these include:

  • Amazon – “DevOps is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity…”
  • Microsoft – “DevOps is the union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users.”
  • Red Hat – DevOps describes approaches to speeding up the processes by which and idea (like a new software feature, a request for enhancement, or a bug fix) goes from development to deployment in a production environment where it can provide value to the user.”

DevOps uses the basic principles of Agile Framework but has evolved from the Agile processes creating an environment that speeds up the entire process. We all know that the world we live in and the work environment we all thrive in is ever more demanding of speed and accuracy of deliverables. DevOps achieves this by establishing and integrating a cross-functional framework that facilitates continuous delivery. While DevOps uses the basic principles of Agile, Jeff very adroitly pointed out some of the glaring differences between the two methodologies.

  • Approach – Agile is limited to software development while DevOps focuses on deployment including development and operations.
  • Scheduling – Agile works in short sprints ranging from weeks to months. Conversely, DevOps can release multiple updates in a single day.
  • Team Dynamics – Agile utilizes small teams of designers, developers, and testers. DevOps integrates multiple teams (Operations, security, network design, development, and testing) working together as a single team.
  • Automation – Agile does not favor automation while DevOps makes automation an integral part of DevOps tools.
  • Communication and documentation – Agile is non-documental sharing of the progress, targets and updates each of team member on a regular basis. DevOps supports full documentation communicating product development in the form of specifications or designs to all the teams.

I don’t want anyone to misunderstand Jeff’s motives in presenting DevOps vs. Agile. I do not see his intention as eliminating Agile processes but rather integrating them into DevOps shortening the timeline between the Agile processes allowing for a quicker turnaround of a final market-ready product. I would like to borrow a piece from one of Jeff’s slides to illustrate this important point.

Image of duration phase differences within 3 different project management methodologies
Change in Culture of SDLC Waterfall Agile DevOps

This very impressive graphic effectively illustrates the timeline differences between the methodologies of Waterfall, Agile, and DevOps. The most important underlying factor in which of these methodologies work in your industry or workplace depends on the culture of your company, program, and / or project.

To quote Jeff directly, “The key to success is often the ability to adapt”. Digital transformation is all about the CUSTOMER. Customer expectations create a competitive landscape demanding value and the pressure to get it right the first time. Speed & Quality = DevOps moving market-ready products into the marketplace with the least amount of problems and highest quality. The list of industries to benefit from the DevOps transformation include but is not limited to Biotech/Medical, Online Education, Financial Services, Consumer Electronics, and Real-Time Maintenance Data. The focus of Digital Transformation is speed; Digital Transformation fundamentally is all about ensuring eh speed, quality, and the best ROI with the implementation of updated technology.  Effective implementation of DevOps into our programs and projects improves our processes of continuous development and integration. DevOps allows for quick turn arounds breaking the barrier between development and operations, bringing these seemingly two opposing forces, immovable objects together working for a common set of objectives.

Jeff’s presentation included three case studies showing how Nordstrom, Netflix and Disney each took the time to reevaluate their methodologies to better deliver to the customer a faster, more effective, more reliable platform for their products. You can find these case studies by following the links below.

Netflix: https://amido.com/blog/a-case-study-of-devops-at-netflix/

Disney: https://thenewstack.io/magic-behind-disney-devops-experience/

Nordstrom: https://kubernetes.io/case-studies/nordstrom/

In conclusion and to summarize, some of the benefits of DevOps include:

  • Reliability / Faster Updates
  • Reduced time to recover / Better user Experience
  • Efficiency / Fewer Failures
  • Lower Risk / Higher Quality
  • Shorter Dev Cycle / Faster Product Delivery
  • Stability / Cost Savings

DevOps is an effective methodology to bring together the integral and necessary functions of any company into a common environment allowing for more effective work environment.

In this short synopsis of this presentation I have barely scratched the surface of the depth of DevOps. There is so much more to be learned by all of us by exploring this and other ideas as they are developed making us all better Project / Program Managers. We don’t throw away old ideas but we do build upon those foundations new and better ways to serve our industries, companies, and our customers.

You can reach out to Jeff for more information on this and ask him all the questions I know I have not by any means answered. Jeff’s email is jeffreem@cisco.com

Contributed by Dennis Burns PMI-OC Writer Chair