Key takeaways from DevOps Deadlock webinar

Key takeaways from DevOps Deadlock webinar

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On Thursday 8th November 2018, Andy Cureton (ECS Digital), Jen Thomson (IDC) and Dave Gore (Lloyds Banking Group) presented on ‘How to get past the DevOps Deadlock’.

This coming together of industry experts gave an exclusive look into how organisations are utilising DevOps. More importantly, it looked at how organisations are moving past the experimental stage to successfully adopt DevOps at scale.

This ability to get past what has been coined as ‘DevOps deadlock’ an approach that utilizes new KPIs spanning the cultural, business, process, technology and talent/staffing changes required for any business transformation that utilizes DevOps.

Accelerating the DevOps Journey

Jen Thomson drew on IDC’s latest research, shining a light on how different organisations are accelerating their DevOps journey to get to what IDC are terming ‘DevOps Determined’.

Whilst unicorns and digital natives are already starting to reap some real benefits from early DevOps adoption, Jen explains that the journey for the majority of organisations is far from over.

In reality, the journey to enterprise scale DevOps is only just beginning. Out of the 60% of organisations who have already adopted a DevOps methodology, each belongs to one of two distinct groups:

  1. Protagonists or DevOps Determined. These make up 40% of large European organisations talking to IDC
  2. DevOps Distracted. These organisations prioritise other challenges and find it hard to scale beyond the DevOps experimental stage. They make up the remaining 60% of large organisations talking to IDC

The performance gap between these two groups continues to widen, with Jen noting that 57% of ‘distracted’ organisation are at a DevOps deadlock, unable to get past the challenges and bottlenecks they face internally.

Moving past the DevOps Deadlock

Whilst DevOps deadlock is a challenge, organisations can and are successfully breaking this transformation blocker.

Andy Cureton, Founder of ECS Digital, pinpointed four key traits businesses are adopting in order to gain traction in their programs. These are:

  • Structure
  • Communication
  • The supporting organisation
  • Enabling transformation

What was interesting about Andy’s talk was that whilst he recognises that DevOps isn’t mandatory, DevOps methodologies, new tooling and ways of working are well proven. How to adopt these at scale across an organisation, however, are not.

The businesses succeeding at scale are those with a central framework, structure or program in place that is coordinating the transformation activities across the organisation.

Taking work that is completed in one area of an organisation such as a CI/CD pipeline and bottling it up to create a quick start or accelerator so that it can be simply leveraged by other areas of the organisation is critical to amplifying the return on the investment. A centralised library is typically used to capture and publicise what is available. Andy described this as the ‘secret source’ to magnifying the benefit going forward.

Another interesting point Andy raised was that ‘fear of change is a phenomenally powerful inhibitor at an Enterprise Scale’. You need to be able to sell the benefits to the individuals who will be impacted by the change of the program, on channels and in ways easily digested by your audience. The aim is to create a pull effect for the transformation rather than magnifying the inertia typically present in established organisations by not focusing on communication.

Whilst most DevOps determined look to retake control of app development and IT operations, they still need the people, know-how and business acumen to drive these changes in a way that stakeholders can buy in to. Having a partner like ECS Digital enables you to strike this balance of accelerating your transformation and enabling your internal teams to become self-sufficient so you can run on your own.

One of the ways ECS Digital is helping organisations facing the conundrum of going faster and insourcing engineering talent is through an offering called Enablement Pods. Perfect for the modern organisation looking to move past their own DevOps deadlock.

Succeeding with DevOps

Talking about a transformation might seem like progressive thinking, but as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Dave Gore, Engineering Transformation Lead at Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), described what it takes to get a transformation off the ground and the fundamental pillars to making that transformation a success.

Dave started by explaining that starting the DevOps conversation is mostly about the people in an enterprise scale organisation. If you are able to hold a good conversation across that community, then you’ve started your transformation off on the right foot.

To secure this crucial buy-in from all stakeholders, you need to sell the principles of the programme and set out outcomes (benefits) that it will deliver to the business. You also need to create an environment where your engineers feel empowered to create outstanding technology solutions for both colleagues and customers.

Once both have been established, you need to find something real and take the plunge! Dave explained that getting started is often the hardest part in an enterprise scale organisation. There will always be a myriad of options, stakeholders, what-if scenarios etc. Identifying one anchor point that you can scale and build from makes it an easier first step – never easy, just easier.

By structuring your programme in this way, you are giving yourself the opportunity to showcase the challenges and achievements encountered with these new ways of working, tools and technologies and continue the conversation that remains so fundamental to its success.

Since starting their journey, LBG have seen a lot happen and 2018 was no different. By following the above principles, LBG have started to see rapid adoption of DevOps methodologies across the business. And whilst these took effort to reach, they have unlocked other valuable areas of LBG.

In Dave’s words, this has made the initial commitment and investment in moving the dial on how LBG do things worthwhile, establishing positive change and building very different capabilities in the organisation today.

What are your next steps?

Whilst Dave, Jen and Andy provided exclusive insights into how businesses have been successfully adopting DevOps practices at scale, the above is only the tip of the iceberg. If you would like to learn more specifically the ways of working, tools, and technologies that could accelerate your transformation out of a deadlock, get in touch today.

If you would like to watch webinar, click here now.

Andy CuretonKey takeaways from DevOps Deadlock webinar
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Closing the gap between business and technology

Closing the gap between business and technology

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27% of final decisions regarding IT planning, spending and management are now made by someone other than the IT department. For a successful DevOps transformation, you need to have implementation come from both the top and the bottom. Here’s how…

For a successful DevOps transformation, you need to have implementation come from both the top and the bottom.

A recent survey by IT industry association CompTIA found that 27% of final decisions are now made by someone other than the IT department (i.e., the heads of other business functions such as finance, marketing, sales and logistics).

Within a bottom-up, grassroots approach, whereby engineering alone is trying to build a better continuous development pipeline, without the support from senior stakeholders, DevOps will only stay siloed in one area. DevOps can and does scale across whole organisations, the problem is that there will be disconnect between the business and development teams. Changes to the organisation and culture are needed to close the gap.

But how should you go about ‘bridging the gap’?

It sounds cliché, but it’s all about communication. Ensuring goals of both the organisation and the teams within it all have overarching and very strategic goals they can work towards collaboratively. Making sure every product is geared towards achieving that goal. Whether it’s to increase sales or click-throughs to a specific page of a website, it must be specific, clear and concise.

Organisations must bring the business and development teams together so they can build products that help achieve strategic goals, and there are a number of effective ways that can help achieve this.

  1. Impact Mapping

Impact mapping is a strategic planning technique that prevents organisations from getting lost while building products and delivering projects. It does this by clearly communicating assumptions, helping teams align their activities with overall business objectives and make better roadmap decisions.

2. Customer Dashboards

Another way to ensure your team is guaranteeing business and IT function buy-in is through custom dashboards. These show you a representation of where you are as well as the business value of the digital transformation. The best countermeasures to inaccurate communications are the mutually reinforcing pillars of automation and measurement.

Automated systems, like custom dashboards, enable better reporting of business metrics. Rather than relying on information that’s filtered upwards to executives, you have an objective measurement system to share across the business, helping everyone get onto the same page.

Meeting the strategic goals of the organisation is imperative. Dashboards are one of the ways we ensure that we are as transparent as possible when communicating our progress, inspection and adaption from the other two core pillars of Scrum Theory and should be adopted not just at the engineering and team level, but also the program and portfolio level. Mapping things at the start does not mean that the job is done, we must update the plan to take into consideration the competitive landscape outside the organisation.

3. Organisational Culture

Finally, organisational culture is extremely important when planning a Digital Transformation project. It often comes down to how your team communicates with one another that makes the biggest difference. Ensuring that your team plans workshops with business/IT functions to get the most value from the projects, and all stakeholders are kept up to date with new developments on the project will also help.

What have we learned?

With the two examples outlined, it’s clear that if you don’t get your business involved, the product team can easily go-off on a tangent. The business will be frustrated as the product won’t be servicing a business need, and objectives will not be fulfilled.

Communicating is key, without it both parties will become disengaged.

Cultural change has to come from the top, leadership must be bought into the transformation and motivated to make it a success. Those at the coal face, the development teams rarely need convincing, they understand the benefits of a DevOps culture and in most cases will always be your path to least resistance. The key to developing applications that release true business value is bridging the gap between the two, the development teams should be seen as part of the business, rather than a service set up to support it.

ECS Digital can help you close your business’ gap on your digital transformation journey, get in contact today to find out how. We held a webinar in November which explained how to get past the DevOps Deadlock within your company – watch now.

Sarndeep NijjarClosing the gap between business and technology
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Why learning for future innovation is an essential skill 

Why learning for future innovation is an essential skill 

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There are few parts of our lives that haven’t been fundamentally changed by the growth of technology over the past few decades – and nobody knows this better than Information Technology (IT) professionals. In fact, if you work in IT there’s a good chance that your job didn’t even exist ten years ago. But technology isn’t only changing the IT world: it’s changing almost every facet of the way we live, work and interact. 

How you approach this level of change on a daily basis can either be the catalyst for boundless innovation or a serious detriment to the success of your business. In this blog, we’ll take a look at why being prepared to learn for future innovation can be the best defence against stagnation in an ever-changing market. 

Learning for future innovation requires specific techniques and agility 

Learning for future innovation is a very different process to learning for something that already exists. Learning for an existing technology is more straight-forward because the method you choose is already tried and tested. Learning for future innovation, by contrast, seems almost self-contradictory.

While it’s certainly no walk in the park, there are ways to make this easier, and at the rate that technology continues to drive our world forward, there will be an ever-increasing number of topics to cover. And, if the mounting evidence is to be believed, most of us have been taught how to learn ‘wrongly’ throughout our lives. For professionals who are serious about learning future technologies, it’s vital to be able to adapt to a variety of working conditions, learning styles and environments in order to think outside the box and innovate more easily than the competition. 

Everybody learns in their own way; no two learning styles are the same. 

Every person has their preferred learning style, and what works for one person might be totally ineffective for the next. Here are the most common learning styles: 

  • Elaborative interrogation: Being able to explain why an explicitly stated fact or concept is true – in other words, repeatedly questioning the facts or pushing the concept to its limits 
  • Self-explanation: Explaining new concepts in the context of existing information, or explaining the necessary steps taken during problem solving. 
  • Summarisation: Summarising information in various lengths, to study from later 
  • Highlighting/underlining: Marking the pertinent sections of a text or piece of work to be revisited later 
  • Keyword mnemonic: Using keywords and mental imagery to associate verbal materials 
  • Imagery for text: Forming a set of related mental images from text materials while reading or listening 
  • Rereading: Restudying text material again after an initial reading, often several times 
  • Practice testing: Self-testing or doing practice tests on the material that needs to be learned 
  • Distributed practice: Implementing a schedule of practice that spreads out study activities over time, with the objective of forming a long-term understanding 
  • Interleaved practice: A schedule of practice that mixes different kinds of problems, or a study programme that mixes different kinds of material within one single study session 

Having an understanding of the different learning styles and how they differ from one another isn’t only a good way to find out which works best for you, it’s also a valuable tool for understanding how the other members of your team may prefer to learn. Ultimately, working as a team means being able to translate new information into a format your colleagues are able to understand is as important as being able to understand it yourself. 

DevOps courses in Singapore 

Whether you’re a DevOps veteran looking for a new opportunity for innovation or an aspiring newbie, ECS Digital Singapore offers a comprehensive selection of training courses that cover everything from DevOps basics to advanced tips and tricks.  

Having spent over 12 years implementing DevOps in organisations around the world, we have adopted a variety of learning styles to ensure what we teach can be easily absorbed by those wishing to learn.   

In our experience, one of the most effective styles for developing skills in new technology and tools is face-to-face sessions. With this in mind, we have partnered with Singapore Management University to deliver an interactive three-day course designed to give you a better understanding of the DevOps methodology.  

If you’d like to find out more about developing your DevOps understanding and skills further, visit our training page to find out more about our Adopting DevOps course in Singapore. 

Kok Hoong WaiWhy learning for future innovation is an essential skill 
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Learning DevOps: Theory versus Practice

Learning DevOps: Theory versus Practice

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DevOps is notoriously difficult to define.

There are many reasons for this, not least of which is that it’s not simply a skill, a tool or a process – it’s a combination of all three. More specifically, it is how these three factors interact to bring about a change in the way software is delivered. For this reason, learning DevOps is a tricky thing to talk about.

Knowing the theory behind good DevOps practices is essential, but without any practical knowledge, you’ll quickly find yourself out of your depth in your organisation’s DevOps journey. As Alfred Korzybski put it, ‘the map is not the territory’. But that doesn’t mean you should jump head-first into DevOps without any kind of roadmap.

In short, mastering DevOps requires both a solid understanding of the theory that underpins it, as well as the ability to handle the reality of DevOps in practice. In this blog, we’ll look at what this means for learning DevOps.

Theory provides the foundation, practice allows for innovation.

In a strange way, learning DevOps is similar to learning how to play an instrument: you could spend years studying the theory and learning how to read music, but if you never sit down to practice, you won’t have any idea how to actually play a piece of music. In the same way, learning the fundamentals of DevOps lays the groundwork, but without practical experience, you’ll very quickly find yourself out of your depth.

A significant part of success with DevOps relies on innovation – the theory might show you how to accomplish something, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ DevOps solution. With practice, you’ll be able to refine and adapt the theory to create a variation that suits your organisation perfectly.

By no means is this a recipe for success. You may get some broken chords along the way, but the key is to learn from your mistakes and improve. As Elon Musk – CEO of Tesla and SpaceX – says “If you’re not failing, you’re not innovating enough.” Ultimately, having a good handle on both the theory and practical application of DevOps is essential for organisations that pride themselves on innovation.

What is DevOps theory, and where do I learn it?

The way we see it at ECS Digital, DevOps consultancy consists of three components: people, processes and tools – in that order.

DevOps theory is concerned with the first two: people and processes. Because DevOps makes some fundamental changes to the way people within the organisation collaborate, getting a handle on the theory behind it requires completely rethinking the nature of a software company from the ground up. At its core, DevOps is influenced by the principles of agile software development – continuous delivery and integration. Shorter delivery times and working in sprints are the legacy of agile development’s influence on DevOps.

There are many resources for learning about DevOps theory all around the internet, from blogs, to social media portals, to training videos on sites like Vimeo and YouTube. However, more in-depth training focuses on theory and practice in equal measure, since mastering DevOps requires an understanding of both as two sides of the same coin. 

What is the best way to learn about DevOps in practice?

The final component of DevOps in ECS Digital’s view are the tools that underpin the software delivery processes and bring DevOps to life. Defining exactly what a DevOps tool is can be problematic, since there are many aspects of the practice that can be augmented with a huge number of tools. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for different organisations to use entirely different combinations of tooling depending on what works best for them.

Typically, DevOps tools can be grouped into some core categories:

  1. Configuration Management – tools like Ansible, Puppet and Chef make it possible to manage and automate infrastructure as code;
  2. Application Deployment – tools such as Automic and Jenkins provide the framework for continuous integration;
  3. Delivery

Learning which of these are most valuable to your cause comes with experience of the tools themselves. The DevOps training offered by ECS Digital Singapore provides the theoretical foundations and then introduces the practical concept with some of the leading tools.

DevOps courses in Singapore

Whether you’re a DevOps veteran looking for new opportunity for innovation or an aspiring newbie, ECS Digital offers a comprehensive selection of training courses in Singapore that cover everything from DevOps basics to advanced tips and tricks.

Not only do we have 12 years’ experience implementing DevOps in organisations around the world and in a myriad of different industries, we have partnered with Singapore Management University to deliver an interactive three-day course designed to give you a better understanding of the DevOps methodology.

If you’d like to find out more about developing your DevOps understanding and skills further, visit our training page to find out more about our Adopting DevOps course in Singapore.

Kok Hoong WaiLearning DevOps: Theory versus Practice
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Singapore is not DevOps ready but ready for DevOps

Singapore is not DevOps ready but ready for DevOps

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DevOps is a culture that has been exponentially gaining popularity in its application and adoption in many European and American based companies. In spite of its popularity though, much of Asia is slow on its adoption, and Singapore is no different. In spite of this however, as a globalised city, Singapore is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the experience of the matured DevOps markets and spread it throughout the region.

What is DevOps?

Before any company can adopt DevOps, it is important to pinpoint what DevOps is, and just as importantly what it isn’t.

‘DevOps is automation and Infrastructure as Code’. No, it isn’t. It’s not a team either

Having automation doesn’t make an organisation “do” DevOps anymore than having a car makes one a driver. In both examples, the tool is certainly critical, but it’s part of it rather than the whole idea.

DevOps

In addition to the above misconception, one very common misnomer of DevOps is having a “DevOps team”. There is no such thing. There can be a team dedicated to maintenance of the automation tools and the maintenance of the pipeline, but there is no team that is “doing DevOps”. If there exists such a thing within the organisation than they are doing DevOps wrong.

The culture of DevOps

As this subtitle indicates, DevOps is a culture. It is not a tool, it is not a team and it most certainly is not a passing fad. DevOps is the logical extension of the popular Agile methodology.

While the Agile methodology can, and has, fill entire books, for brevity, the key principles are “collaboration, flexibility and adaptability”. DevOps is all about continuous feedback and the dissolution of programming silos (groups) to encourage cooperation and quicker responses. This is carried out through the automation of as many processes as possible.

Credit: Atlassian https://marketplace.atlassian.com/categories/devops

The above infinity figure is very popular when describing DevOps. While the specific details of each section may differ from organisation to organisation, its essence remains the same; DevOps is a concept that loops back onto itself, providing a continuous process.

Developers keen on reducing overhead and improving their processes is one thing, but management must also

Continuous Integration is all about developing a pipeline that integrates the code into the shared repository often and triggering the various automated tests and builds to ensure functionality, i.e. ‘if it breaks, you will know.’ The results of these builds and tests are fed back to the developers, which allows to fix the problem, if any, or move on to other work. This facilitates the quicker feature development and reaction to market changes, which all organisations strive for.

Why DevOps?

As has been established, the DevOps philosophy has many benefits when being adopted. However, how does any of that actually help the organisation?

This is where the unparalleled flexibility and adaptability of DevOps bears fruits. The reduction of development cycle times from months to weeks, even days for the more ambitious organisations, offers an unprecedented ability to react to market forces and competitors. Rather than scrambling around in a bid to mimic what rival companies have made, it becomes possible to become a market leader, pushing new releases and updates within weeks when the market is still fresh.

Even within the organisation, the culture would bear fruit. The smoothening of the development process through automation frees up resources that can be better spent elsewhere, such as actual problems that need addressing instead of facilitating the work of others.

Automated testing allows developers to identify issues with minor code commits immediately, and with no overhead from needing to create test cases or environments. On top of that, this has the side benefit of preventing the compounding of bugs and issues to be discovered on “deployment day”, with entire weekends burnt debugging the now massive code merges.

How Singapore is not DevOps ready but ready for DevOps

Many companies in Singapore still suffer under the misconceptions of what DevOps is and isn’t. Without a strong push from the government or a market disruptor, there is no strong impetus for organisations to innovate or change. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This status quo won’t remain as is however; change is the only constant. Eventually, companies will be forced to adapt or be left behind.

That being said, that companies and teams in Singapore are trying to integrate the DevOps culture is a good sign and a step in the right direction. As the regional hub and the gateway of many companies into the region, Singapore can easily lead the region with its established technology foothold and infrastructure.

Bringing newcomers up to speed

Regardless of the organisation, on-boarding of newcomers is a significant drain on resources. From the initial probationary period, to familiarisation with company culture to training in the usage of company tools, each step can be a challenge to succeed. Let us at ECS digital help you do so. The flexibility of our courses can be custom-suited to the tools and frameworks used by your organisation. Not only will students walk away with a clearer understanding of what DevOps is, but they will have a foundation of what it means to your organisation and how the philosophy and tools facilitate this.

Kok Hoong WaiSingapore is not DevOps ready but ready for DevOps
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Open source. Are you part of the community?

Open source. Are you part of the community?

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Open source is a type of licensing agreement – not very exciting. The exciting bit is that it allows users to create and publish work that can be freely used, modified, integrated into larger projects or derived into new work based on the original by other users.

In an age of trade secrets and profit-driven professions, this is a unique platform that actively promotes a global exchange of innovation. It has been specifically designed to encourage contributions so that the software doesn’t stand still. The collective goal of this barrier-free community is the advancement of creative, scientific and technological tools and applications – which for many is more important than a price tag.

Who uses open source?

Although, it is most commonly used in the software industry, professionals adopt open source licenses in many industries including biotech, fashion, robotics and teaching. This article will focus solely on software applications.

What’s interesting is that more and more businesses are contributing their own source code to the community – Facebook, Airbnb, Cyprus are leading examples. According to a 2018 Tidelift Professional Open Source Survey, 92% of projects amongst European respondents contain open source libraries. Whilst on the surface this contradicts conventional commercial instinct, businesses gain a lot by giving away a little. Whilst the benefits are vast, we are going to focus on five:

  1. Competition:

Since the late 90’s and the advancement of the digital age, competition no longer resides simply between two rival companies. Businesses today also find themselves competing with open source software projects that are free, open to the public and constantly evolving.

Due to the current scale of open source contribution, even the giants in the tech industry are struggling to devote the resources or teams large enough to compete with their community counterparts.

Turning to the open source community enables businesses to outsource resource rich projects to a bottomless sea of innovative capabilities. This potentially reduces cost, pressure and speeds up the feedback loop considerably.

  1. Reputation:

In the same way the Big Bang Theory made traditional science nerds cool, the open source community can boost a business’ profile on the cool/not-cool spectrum.

Not only do businesses become more attractive to potential employees, by initiating an open source software project, or contributing to an existing one, they make their mark on an additional and power channel popular within IT circles. If done well, this has the potential to establish, maintain or improve a brand’s image, as well as attract new business.

  1. Advancement:

Helping to advance something as big as the technology industry isn’t something to turn your nose up at. In fact, businesses revel with the idea of having their name against a leading piece of software that has the potential to make history.

But history moves fast. And building software inhouse can be stifled by other business priorities, resource restrictions and other competitors beating you to the finish line.

Rather than building behind closed doors and waiting until your software it is perfect, opening your source code to the community in its earlier stages has two benefits:

  1. You can plant your flag earlier
  2. You invite an endless list of innovative capability to help advance your idea at a rate unlikely attainable behind closed doors

It also acts as an incentive for individuals to feel part of a project than extends far beyond the business they work for.

  1. Trust:

Fake news, data breaches, shady deals – all of these have encouraged people to lose trust in businesses. Including open source projects in company policy encourages business to be more transparent with its consumers. Whilst it is naive to believe a company will lay down all their cards, companies such as Facebook made 15,682 contributions in 2016. Automattic created WordPress as an open source project and currently powers 31% of the internet, and Netflix frequently open sources the tools they develop in-house.

Not only are they strengthening their brand, sharing is showing the world they have nothing to hide – which is a proven way to start winning back trust.

A great example of building this trust through transparency is the cryptocurrency space where many projects including Bitcoin allow you to browse through the project’s source. A very different approach to their corporate counterparts.

  1. Speed:

Many companies face the same problems. Sometimes companies are kind enough to share the solution. If a problem has been solved before and will provide business value in a fraction of the time and half the man power everybody wins.

Contributing to the community also gives you the capability to ask the projects contributors directly questions, ask for features or raise issues enabling you fast feedback which keeps your project moving

How does open source work? 

Contributors create a project and solve a problem. They realise that other people might benefit from this project to solve their problems. The project is shared on an open platform such as GitHub which can be downloaded and used by other users interested in the project.

If users wish to contribute, they can do this by downloading the project, creating a fork (which is an exact replica of a certain part of the pipeline) and editing the code until they are happy with the changes. Users can then request a pull request which notifies the authors that a suggested change is requested.

It is up to the author to approve the change, before deciding whether they want to include the changes. If they do, this usually becomes part of the next version, which is released at the author’s discretion.

The problem is, this could take some time. The author is under no obligation to release new versions or accept proposed changes. In fact, this is one of the limitations of the open source community. People will only give up as much information as they want to / their projects need. Authors are not there to solve specific problems, and often release software that focuses on their needs rather than trying to create something too generic.

This can be frustrating if an open source project only solves half your problem, however, the community can help bridge knowledge gaps. Users also have the option to download, build and run the project locally in the interim whilst waiting for the official new version – meaning they don’t need to wait for the software to be released with the changes they need.

How it is viable?

Whilst it doesn’t make economic sense on the surface, the community have found a way to make open source viable from a business and individual perspective. Some have capitalised on their projects, making basic versions available at no cost to the user, but adding a price tag to different versions or ‘add-ons’.

Other businesses or individuals actively contributing to the platform have benefited from angel investments, as well as new business after demonstrating successful projects.

It is also often a side project for businesses and individuals. Due to the legal freedom attributed to an open source platform, you’re able to modify the code of the product you’re using endlessly, for free, at no risk of breaching privacy policies or user agreements. This makes it the opportune ‘playground’ for those looking to get into the industry or develop new skills. According to LinkedIn:

“We believe that open sourcing projects makes our engineers better at what they do best. Engineers grow in their craft by having their work shared with the entire community.”

Risks:

With all open platforms, there is a risk of abuse. Open source communities are no different and have certainly experienced their fair share of malicious activity. However, it is the open source approach that significantly increases the reliability of the projects available to the public.

By establishing a community who believe in the future potential of the projects produced, you immediately have a security indicator in place. Many of them in fact. And with so many eyes looking at projects, malicious activity is quick to be spotted and remedied. This is because open source platforms embody an agile mentality, applied in a community wide approach. Rather than make one big change and focus on ensuring it is okay for the next six-months, contributors and authors are interested in making changes quickly, so things get fixed and evolved just as quick.

******

ECS Digital love to find value for our clients and give it back to the wider community, which is why we make tools available on open source platforms such as GitHub and NPM.

We will also be hosting a hands-on session and demonstration of AyeSpy– a visual regression testing tool – at an upcoming DevOps Playground on the 29th of November. Come along to learn more about what the AyeSpy has to offer!

Matt LowryOpen source. Are you part of the community?
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ECS Digital attends DevOpsDays Singapore

ECS Digital attends DevOpsDays Singapore

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ECS Digital is proud to once again sponsor the DevOps Days Singapore event. This year’s theme of ‘feedback loop’ was reflected strongly in the keynote talks that took place, such as ‘Data Drive DevOps’ and discussions about technologies like Hashicorp’s Consul.

Alongside the various keynote talks, there were sharing sessions and open discussions, providing company experiences of implementing feedback loops, or the cost of lacking such tools. Topics ranged from more general ones like ‘Busting DevOps’ and ‘Automation of legacy tools’ to ‘Chaos Engineering in production and banking’.

You only have to change one thing to ‘do the DevOps’, everything

The opening talk was delivered by Ken Mugrage, establishing the theme of the conference and reminding everyone what DevOps was, and just as importantly what it wasn’t. On top of the usual encouragement of companies to change their mentality to embrace DevOps, Ken talked about reorganising teams into product teams to encourage developers to take ownership over features and products, as well as involving other teams such as compliance throughout the process

One interesting concern raised was that of product team’s unwillingness to iterate further for fear of taking on even more responsibility, since each product created would be another the team would need to manage. What team would be willing to continually innovate if it meant an ever-increasing amount of responsibility and workload?

Ken addressed this concern with the idea that product teams can “earn” the right to hand over a product to another team for maintenance. If a feature/product is stable and no longer a priority to iterate upon and improve, it can be passed on. If the situation changes, then the product team will take back the product and begin the iterative process anew. This prevents product teams from being burdened by their own innovation.

It’s Down! Simulating incidents in production

Kelsey Pedersen from Stitch Fix shared her company’s experience with implementing chaos engineering, i.e. deliberately injecting failure in a system in a bid to build more resilient systems. Sharing interesting observations on other industries having dry runs and practices for handling crises, she commented on the general lack of a similar rigour within many software companies.

Instead of preparation, programmers are expected to learn on the spot to deal with crises as they happen, and often under extremely stressful and thus non-conducive conditions. How could people learn from these experiences and be expected to perform better in the future?

To address this, it is beneficial to encourage incident simulation in production systems. This ensures system failures do not bring the entire application down, on top of better training your engineers to deal with similar future problems. This knowledge and experience is invaluable in crisis management as well as prevention of similar service outages.

Addressing the concern companies may have about limited resources and viability of such methods, companies should focus their efforts on simulating failures that have the highest frequency and impact. This enables the most benefit to be garnered from the simulations.

Consul Connect

Our Hashicorp Partner Ned Shawa gave an overview of the Consul tool, a service discovery tool to help with scaling connectivity management for Dynamic Infrastructures, among other issues. As ever, Hashicorp is dedicated to keeping Consul as flexible as possible, supporting integration for the many tools in the market, such as Cloud services like Azure, AWS and GCP and tools like Kubernetes and Docker.

Ned describes several challenges that have arisen from the migration from static to dynamic systems, such as the securing of service-to-service communications. While conventionally handled with firewall rules, it is unfeasible with large systems that may necessitate 100s of firewall rules. Instead, Consul allows the implementation of a select few Intentions that serve the same purpose, easing the management of such large, dynamic systems.

As usual, DevOpsDays Singapore is a great event to attend, full of useful insight and like-minded individuals. We are proud to have been Gold sponsors for the second year in a row – thank you DevOpsDay for an excellent day!

If you are interested in learning more about ECS Digital and the services we can provide, please get in touch.

Cy NichollsECS Digital attends DevOpsDays Singapore
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Latest Enablement Pod offering unveiled…

Latest Enablement Pod offering unveiled…

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ECS Digital announced the official unveiling of their Enablement Pod offering yesterday at DevOps World | Jenkins World, the annual gathering of DevOps practitioners using Jenkins for continuous delivery.

Understanding that business-wide transformations take time and involve multi-year programmes, ECS Digital have designed Enablement Pods to help clients effect change and realise value in the short and long term.

Enablement Pods are a collection of outcome-focused sprints that handpicks specialist teams to deliver the people, resources and capabilities their clients’ need, when they need them. These Pods help enterprises transform at scale by embedding – for short periods – in existing engineering teams to enable new ways of working, tooling and technology.

The unique feature of ECS Digital’s Enablement Pods is that they – and ECS Digital’s success – are measured against KPIs defined in Sprint Zero. By tying success to business outcomes, clients are guaranteed a real return on investment. And if ECS Digital don’t hit the agreed outcomes, customers get a return on the revenue invested.

Each additional sprint to the Sprint Zero provides an opportunity to showcase and review progress ensuring maximum value from all activities. Sprints last between two weeks and resources are dependent on specific project and sprint KPIs. Another unique feature of ECS Digital’s Enablement Pods is that their resource profile remains dynamic to satisfy the different skills requirements of sprint KPIs.

ECS Digital have begun using Enablement Pods as an essential tool to deliver transformation at scale for their prolific customers. In addition to exceeding project KPIs, ECS Digital have enhanced value by enabling internal teams so they become self-sufficient and architect solutions designed to survive tomorrow’s challenges, not just todays.

 

“ECS Digital’s input has added an extra level of intelligence which has enabled us to build on the capacity under their guidance. We have grown in our capabilities over these past 12 months and developed the skillsets of our internal team through additional training. If we have any DevOps or automation or platform requirements in the future, we won’t bother going to tender, we will go straight to ECS Digital.” Matthew Bates, IT Director at ThinkSmart

Enablement Pod outcomes:

  • For each £1 invested in us, we have delivered £3 of annualised savings in the development lifecycle of a Retail Bank core application
  • A 99% reduction of application environment configuration delivery timescales (from 7200 minutes to 3 minutes)
  • Increase quality of testing through automation as well as timescales of test cycles by over 50%
  • 12x reduction of application delivery cycle

About ECS Digital:

ECS Digital is an experienced digital transformation consultancy, helping clients deliver better products faster through the adoption of DevOps practices.

They are the digital practice of the ECS Group and have been leaders in digital transformation since 2003 – evolving their offerings to support their customers’ evolving needs. They believe in a better way to adopt and deliver new ways of working, processes and technology. A more valuable and outcome focused way of leveraging Enterprise DevOps and Agile testing to help build tomorrow’s enterprises today.

They’ve helped over 100 customers – including Lloyds Banking Group, ASOS, BP plc and Sky – realise the benefits of Enterprise DevOps and Agile Testing and have proactively remained relevant in the face of increasing challenges of customer expectation and market disruption. You can follow the ECS Digital community on LinkedIn and Twitter (@ECS_Digi).

Andy CuretonLatest Enablement Pod offering unveiled…
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Year in the life at ECS Digital

Year in the life at ECS Digital

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  • Ever wondered what our consultants do?
  • Do you have an interest in engineering practices, culture, automation, coding or testing?
  • Are you ready to join our family?

At ECS Digital, we are always looking to grow and diversify our talented team of consultants. We pride ourselves in creating the optimal environment for our team to succeed. This means investing in our people when it matters most to them on their journey.

We also make sure that each day is a new and exciting opportunity for learning – because doing the same thing day in day out just isn’t fun for anyone.

So, if you’re looking to break into the world of Agile, BDD/ATDD, coding, CI and CD, Continuous Testing or DevOps, here’s what you can expect from your first year at ECS Digital:

Month 2

By month two, you should be settling into your new role and starting to learn how ECS Digital really works. You’ll start working towards your first certifications and shadowing on customer sites – which means lots of new faces and names to remember.

To help sharpen your consulting skills, you’ll be asked to conduct a few internal presentations and, seeing as we’re a social bunch, it’s likely you’ll have been invited to attend one of our frequent dinners or seasonal parties too! In addition to food and drinks, we plan regular events such as yoga and team-building sessions.

“ECS Digital has an amazing culture which promotes a good working environment for everyone with plenty of opportunity to progress if you wish to. ECS Digital will support this progression and ensure you have the tools required, but they also understand that sometimes the real world can get in the way and provide you with the flexibility needed too”

“While ECS Digital ensures you have people supporting you so you are not overwhelmed, they also provide you the opportunity to take responsibility if you want it, running an event like DevOps Playground provides a great stepping stone.”

Months 9-12

You should be feeling pretty great about what you have achieved and feeling confident in being responsible for delivering a whole host of tasks, as well as where you see yourself progressing in the coming months with us.

You’ll be encouraged to work towards additional certifications or attend one of a wide variety of courses, all while receiving the support and encouragement you need to succeed. It’s an exciting time, so be open to every opportunity that comes your way and continue to sharpen your skills as much as possible. Training is always available to employees but staying curious as you work towards leading your first client project is hugely important.

“After 12 months, I led my first client project involving two ECS Digital resources to work with the customer, a large UK based bank, on building up its Cloud capability. This involved a wide range of areas, control, security, infrastructure, networking, etc. and my personal focus has been on making all of that align so that project teams can consume AWS in a controlled and secured manner.”

When the time comes, usually after around a year with us, you’ll become responsible for leading a client project – with all of the support of your ECS Digital family around you, of course! Awards dinners and events will also guarantee you celebrate your first 12 months as an ECS Digital Consultant in style.

And that’s it, your first year with ECS Digital! We’re excited for you to start your consulting journey with us. If we’ve piqued your interest, take a look at our vacancies now.

If you missed our recent Year in the Life infographic, you can check it out here.

ECS DigitalYear in the life at ECS Digital
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