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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ECS Digital returns to Jenkins World 2018

ECS Digital returns to Jenkins World 2018

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ECS Digital returned once again to Jenkins World in San Francisco, hosted by our partner Cloudbees. This year we had the opportunity to listen to a whole host of talks delivered by various industry leaders. We also conducted the ‘Jenkins Pipeline Fundamentals’ – training over 35 students from numerous backgrounds and experiences in Jenkins.

Our very own Ivan Audisio led the training, covering the essential best practices and nature of declarative and scripted pipelines. The real-world experience shared by both him and the various students made for a stimulating and enlightening experience for all. Alongside the theory, there were practical labs to provide an immediate application of the theory learned.

In tandem with the training, there were a variety of courses available during the convention, including Jenkins Pipeline Intermediate, Jenkins Fundamentals and CloudBees Core on Kubernetes – Intermediate.

These full-day training sessions were held over two days to give those interested a chance to expand their knowledge and familiarity with the Jenkins tools and concepts. These ranged from the basic configuration of projects to end-to-end automation.

During the event, Cloudbees hosted their second annual DevOps World Awards Program which aimed to honour all the Jenkins contributors and DevOps innovators. ECS Digital received the award for ‘Service Delivery Partner of the Year’ in recognition of our contributions to the Cloudbees and Jenkins community. We are extremely grateful for this award, thank you to the Cloudbees and Jenkins team!

The Keynotes

Following the conclusion of the training, the rest of the convention was dedicated to hosting talks, demonstrations and presentations of Jenkins and other related Continuous Integration (CI) technologies and concepts.

During one such keynote presentation, Kohsuke Kawaguchi, Cloudbees CTO and creator of Jenkins, introduced the exciting new technologies they have been working on and discussed their vision of the future of CI. The five technologies discussed were:

  1. Jenkins Pipeline
  2. Jenkins Evergreen
  3. Configuration as Code
  4. Cloud Native Jenkins
  5. Jenkins X

Here were some other event announcements that caught our attention:

Jenkins Pipeline

As with before, Cloudbees continues to push forward with improving the Jenkins Pipeline, with updates to the Blue Ocean interface they have been developing since last year. One development Kawaguchi was particularly excited about was the extensibility to facilitate the Jenkins community to contribute to the project; similar to the wealth of plugins developed by the community for Jenkins. He also believes it is time to move away from the old Jenkins User Interface (UI) and begin to fully integrate Blue Ocean as the go-to UI for Jenkins.

Configuration as Code

While only touched on briefly, the idea to have Jenkins’ configuration as a file that is able to be version controlled and tracked is an exciting one. Rather than having users manually make modifications with no means to track changes, which may break builds and functions, support is being developed to allow such version controlling to exist. By facilitating the creation of configurations as a single config file that can be stored in repositories, it becomes possible to easily implement rollbacks in the event of failures and easy replication. The idea to replicate a Jenkins setup by simply copying a single file is one step closer to the final goal of turning everything into code.

Cloudbees Suite

Recognising the increasing desire for greater tools and support for their Cloudbees Software, Christina Noren, Cloudbees’ Chief Product Officer, conducted the keynote introducing the Cloudbees Suite – a software package consisting of Cloudbees DevOptics, Cloudbees Codeship & Cloudbees Core.

Acknowledging the confusion caused by their rapid development of new software and improvements, Christina elaborates on their desire to rebrand their tools. This rebranding will help to alleviate the issue, as well as highlight their continued dedication to improving the tools available and creating more for the community.

DevOptics continues to deliver a means to accurately monitor performance and provide metrics of improve – a key concept in Continuous Integration and Delivery of providing feedback to users. Working together with Core for easy deployment and Codeship for operational maintenance, the software suite provides a strong collection of tools for furthering any company’s digital transformation.

The Conference

The conference served as a good place for networking, on top of providing a place for various talks and technical demonstrations from industry leaders and commentators. These talks and demonstrations ranged from personal insights to experiences with Jenkins deployment.

Our gratitude goes out to Cloudbees for hosting the conference as well as everyone who took the time to come speak with us and attend the training session conducted by us.

If you’re interested in contacting us for Jenkins or other DevOps related consultations, please contact us here.

Matthew SongECS Digital returns to Jenkins World 2018
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ECS Digital Acquires QAWorks

ECS Digital Acquires QAWorks

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London-based ECS Digital, the specialist DevOps division of the ECS Group, has acquired QAWorks, the UK’s leading technical software testing organisation.  

QAWorks is recognised in the industry as the home of the Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET). Studies suggest that 31% of IT budgets are being spent on testing1 which is set to rise over the coming years as a result of growing demands on organisations to increase innovation and time to market and reduce associated cost.

This acquisition is part of ECS Digital’s strategy to reduce the time and cost of delivering software and software-related services by including practices such as Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) and Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) as core elements of all DevOps transformations.

The combined company will be known as ECS Digital and have a turnover approaching £10 million which is expected to continue to grow over 100% year on year.

The combination of specialist testing expertise with proven – and rare – DevOps experience will ensure that the company’s customers – who are across all sectors, with the majority in finance and retail, can realise even greater outcomes from digital transformation. DevOps is a methodology that helps companies create software and software-related services such as internet banking, faster, at lower cost and with improved quality.

Andy Cureton, Founder and Managing Director, ECS Digital, commented:

“This is, as far as we are aware, the first time that a specialist DevOps company has integrated to this extent with a specialist testing company.  We believe the deal will make ECS Digital unique as we will be the only consultancy to offer specialist testing practices as a foundation element of our DevOps offerings as well as in their own right. This acquisition is driven by the need for greater levels of innovation and customer engagement within many companies, and the ever-rising benchmark of high performance. By combining testing and DevOps, companies can ensure that software is designed with how the customer is going to use it in mind and tested on that basis. Development and delivery will be accelerated as testing is done as part of development rather than separately.”

He added “With over 14 years’ experience in DevOps and digital transformation (ECS Digital) we could not have found a more experienced software testing team (17 years) than QAWorks. Combining the rare skillset of the SDET with the equally rare DevOps skillset, will enable us to meet our customers’ growing demands and further our position as a leader in DevOps and Digital Transformation.“

ECS Digital is part of ECS Group, headquartered in Scotland.  The ECS Group delivers an extensive range of services, from Cloud adoption to cyber-security to DevOps for many FTSE 100 companies.  With the acquisition of QAWorks, ECS Digital will have one of the largest pools of SDET and DevOps engineers in the UK.

QAWorks develops testing software as well as providing agile testing consultancy and implementation.

Jason Westhorpe, MD, QAWorks, said:

“The services offered by ECS Digital complement and enhance the services we currently offer our customers. For true DevOps to be successful it is essential that continuous testing / test automation is in place, likewise for the benefits of test automation to be realised we need an effective DevOps strategy. With the integration of two of the UK’s leaders in these fields, both the existing QAWorks customers and ECS Digital customers will gain the greater benefit from the adoption of DevOps.”

He continued, “Continuous Delivery and DevOps has seen the once independent disciplines of infrastructure automation, continuous integration, deployment automation and so on, merge into software delivery pipelines. Businesses that are increasingly reorganising around products or customer journeys and adopting DevOps and Continuous Delivery practices, are now benefitting the most. It’s no longer enough to be a specialist in one discipline such as testing.   It is rare to find companies with the skills to provide DevOps to large corporations, so we are delighted to be teaming up with a company of the calibre of ECS Digital.”

According to Gartner, by 2020, DevOps initiatives will cause 50% of enterprises to implement continuous testing using frameworks and open-source quality tools.2

1 https://www.finextra.com/blogs/fullblog.aspx?blogid=14322

http://www.gartner.com/events-na/applications/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/07/predicts_2017_application_de_316983.pdf

Andy CuretonECS Digital Acquires QAWorks
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“Continuous Innovation” WTF is that about?

“Continuous Innovation” WTF is that about?

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For those that haven’t noticed, we recently re-branded. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Following our acquisition by ECS Group, Forest Technologies has become ECS Digital. And with that re-brand, comes a new tagline. You’ve probably seen it: it’s splashed across our homepage, our business cards and our conference swag: Continuous Innovation.

We think it sums up everything we do here at ECS Digital – and why – but what exactly does it mean?

Put simply, continuous innovation is what it says on the tin: It’s a methodology that allows companies to continuously improve in line with customer demand and market expectations, as well as new and existing competitors.

But, why is Continuous Innovation so important?

Nearly 100 years ago, Albert Einstein, himself, said:

“we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.

This has never been as true as it is today.  Customer expectations have dramatically increased in recent years with the consumerisation of IT. Since the emergence of disruptive industry challengers, web 2.0 companies have begun to establish not only new markets, but new ways of consuming existing or traditional services.

As we head deeper into the digital age, new products, services and features are surfacing all the time, and customers have come to expect these to be delivered to them quickly.  This speed at which the consumer market is moving is forcing companies to innovate at an ever increasing rate.  With the breadth of choice and ease of switching providers eroding customer loyalty, this innovation has to be delivered to the highest standards.

Increasingly, companies are finding that in order to survive – let alone grow – they need to change the way they work.  At the same time, they’re being pushed to do more with less (or at least the same) making it imperative that organisations work smarter, not harder. It is no longer an option to do what’s always been done.

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Industry disruption is so real nowadays that all businesses face the threat of disruptor companies.

In fact, compared to 1995, only 12% of Fortune 500 firms remain, thanks to the creative destruction that fuels economic prosperity, and the average time companies now spend on the Fortune 500 will shrink to 12 years by 2020 from 60 years back in 1960.

The more agile and able to innovate you are, the easier it is to keep up with changes in consumer trends, and avoid going out of business.

Let’s rewind a few years…

…and remember Blockbuster:  In 2004, the leader in home movies and video game rentals was valued at over $6 billion.   By 2010, Netflix had become a household name for online video streaming services, rendering Blockbuster stores bankrupt.

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Despite Blockbuster’s efforts to send rentals-by-mail and offer streaming services, they were unable to do so soon enough. Blockbuster were beaten to the post by a company that could innovate both continuously and rapidly, and left by fickle consumers demanding convenience at speed and value. Those of us that remember can only reminisce on the Friday nights going to Blockbusters, grabbing some popcorn and renting the latest releases.

If Blockbuster had been capable of innovating and delivering new services to customers faster, could they have competed against Netflix? 

It’s possible: more than simply allowing companies to stay ahead of trends, innovation has become one of the keys to dominating a market. Evolution is no longer enough to win, let alone retain customers:“The light bulb wasn’t invented by continuously improving the candle…it was about understanding what the job to be done was and then stepping back to look for solutions to solve this.”

Picture1-4.pngWho would have thought the adoption of agile principles would allow the world’s biggest online book seller, Amazon, to not only kill the traditional bookstore, the traditional bookstore, but become the world’s biggest cloud provider?

What if Amazon launched a bank…?

How does ECS Digital help companies achieve Continuous Innovation?

Here at ECS Digital, we believe that everything is done with the aim of helping our customer achieve continuous innovation.  As a DevOps and Continuous Delivery consultancy, we help companies of all sizes to adopt the working practices, processes and tools that enable them to deliver the continuous innovation that customers and users demand.

DevOps itself is an enabler of innovation.  As well as improving the speed, failure rates and efficiency of organisations, it encourages businesses to:

  • Collaborate more effectively, making for not only more satisfied and productive employees, but a more rounded view and wider pool of internal ideas. As Adam Jacob, CTO of Chef once said, Happy people make happy products.”

Achieving the above allows companies to continually innovate. At ECS Digital, we transform enterprises through the adoption of DevOps and Continuous Delivery, allowing them to stay ahead of competition and giving them the opportunity to disrupt their markets.

 

To learn more about how DevOps helps organisations to innovate, why not read my article, placed in Horizon Business Innovation: DevOps enables CIOs to create Innovation.”

Andy Cureton“Continuous Innovation” WTF is that about?
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ECS takes DevOps to the Enterprise with acquisition of Forest Technologies

ECS takes DevOps to the Enterprise with acquisition of Forest Technologies

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Proof that DevOps is going mainstream, the acquisition of Forest Technologies by ECS aims to fill the gap between global consulting behemoths and niche players for large businesses undertaking digital transformations.

ECS Digital will be one of only a handful of companies to implement large-scale DevOps projects for established brands including a global top three retailer, a top five UK retail bank and a large European telco.

To read this article in full on the ECS website, please click here

Andy CuretonECS takes DevOps to the Enterprise with acquisition of Forest Technologies
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