DevOps for Humans

Jayne Groll

Digital transformation is now essential for organizations trying to navigate the “new normal”.

Digital transformation may be powered by automation but automation is powered by humans.

To meet new demands, humans must now go through their own transformation including new skills, new tools, and new interactions.

This session will look at DevOps and digital transformation from a human perspective including data on upskilling, workforce transformation, remote work and the characteristics of the hybrid DevOps Human.

**WINNER of the swampUP 2021 Carl Quinn Best Speaker Award!**

Video transcript

Everyone, I’m Jayne Groll, CEO of the DevOps Institute and I’m delighted again to be a presenter at JFrogs annual SwampUP, I think this is my third year presenting. So I’m always grateful for the opportunity to speak, particularly because my area that I like to speak about is humans. And so today we’re going to talk about DevOps for humans, I’ll share a little bit of insight from some of the research that DevOps Institute has been doing about upscaling and really sharing some market insight into what we know about the importance of human transformation as related to digital transformation and DevOps.

 For those of you who don’t know me, I am co founder and CEO of the DevOps Institute. I’m a former ITIL instructor, I was one of the cofounders of ITSM Academy. Prior to that, I come from the ops side of IT, I was an IT ops director for multiple organizations, I do get a chance to speak a lot, which makes me happy. And I’m also the author of the Agile service management guide, I hope you’ll follow me on twitter on social media, LinkedIn, connect with me on LinkedIn and now I’ll tell you a little bit about DevOps Institute and hope you’ll connect with us as well. So DevOps Institute is a professional member association, we’re all about the advancing the humans of DevOps.

 We believe that human transformation is essential in the digital age, we have multiple levels of membership, I’ll share that with you at the end of my presentation. But our goal is to create a safe and interactive environment where members get a chance to connect with each other to grow their own personal portfolios, and certainly to be able to support the organizational goals of their employers. So again, become a member of DevOps Institute, basic membership is free, there’s a couple of other levels I’ll tell you about in a little bit. So let’s start today’s story by looking back at 2020. And it’s no surprise to anyone that the world shifted very suddenly and very drastically, in about march of 2020, something that I don’t think an organization or an individual around the world was really prepared for, or could have expected this in our wildest dreams. But organizations and individuals had to pivot the way that they work, the way they operate, certainly the way that their business operated. And while we’re very grateful to the healthcare providers, to the first responders for really supporting us during this terrible, terrible time, it really is also the IT community that are unsung heroes, because IT communities around the world had to move their organizations from an on premise to a remote work from home, looking at capacity issues, looking at new security issues, making sure that the business could operate in a digital landscape, in many cases, moving to even online ordering or online commerce. So we’re very grateful to the tech community. And I’m assuming if you’re listening to this, you’re a member of that community and you should feel very proud of the work that you’ve done.

 In fact, we think that this is really moved us forward several years into the future, because a lot of the changes that occurred as a result of the pandemic may actually be fairly permanent. So one thing became clear when we looked at the new normal, and we don’t know what the new normal is going to be exactly, some people call it the next normal, as if there’s one after that, but we’re all pretty confident that the world is not going back to where it was in late 2019, right?

 That there are some changes that have been made from a society perspective, from a business perspective, and certainly from a digital perspective, that are going to remain as we move forward into this next decade. But one thing’s pretty certain. And that’s a digital transformation is no longer optional.

 Organizations that perhaps were a little slower, to moving to a cloud environment, to looking at their online presence, to being able to do business in an online way, learned the hard way that that this became something that they needed to accelerate and accelerate very quickly, and as I said we’re not going back. We will go back to live events, they’ll probably be hybrid events, we will go back to traditional commerce perhaps, but I think the digital landscape is here to stay, and if we’re going to keep a digital transformation as our mission critical goals this next decade, then we’re going to need humans who have new talent, new skills. And of course, one of my missions today is to help you identify which skills are considered, must have nice to have and not as important, it’s really important to understand digital transformation is not only about automation, right?

 Your humanity, your ability to be a good worker, the ability for you to keep growing your skills is going to be essential in this new digital world.

 Crisis accelerates change, right? And again, if we look at some of the byproducts of the past year to 18 months, DevOps continued to shift left, right? We now look at the citizen developer with low code, no code options, we certainly look at security.

 You know, just recently we’ve seen some security breaches that have affected pipelines have affected governments, have affected enterprises and so being able to be security aware is going to be necessary for everyone, the move to the cloud, right?

 You may still be in a hybrid world, that’s fine. But the cloud does require Intelligent Automation and so there’s a lot of pressure on old IT operating models, and so we’re going to need to disrupt that a bit. Artificial intelligence, machine learning certainly is going to help us optimize and that will also help understand what the new operating models will be. And then the last two bullets on this slide, I think are really important.

 Value Stream management is gaining a lot of steam year over year over year and we’ll see that in some of the data I’m going to share with you, that we’re no longer managing software development life cycles, or where, you know, each of the different phases of software development, or each of the different groups within software development, kind of have their own operating model, we’re now looking at managing the value stream from, you know, idea to MBL in production. And then also Site Reliability Engineering, the what happens before a code or a product goes into production. And of course, the operational aspects of it are important as well and we’re seeing, you know, a huge lift in both value stream management and SRE.

 You know, we have to keep pace, right?

 We have to keep pace, we need to upscale our humans as often as we upgrade our applications and I think in the past, while some organizations certainly have supported training and have invested in mission critical education for their staffs, individually, we have to take charge of our own upskilling path.

 Unfortunately, the shelf life of many of your skills is shorter than ever before. But I think individually and organizationally, we need to look at upskilling with the same lens that we look at updating our applications, right?

 There’s a pattern or a cadence to keeping our applications fresh, and we need to apply a similar cadence to our humans as well. DevOps humans are in high demand. I mean, one of the things that I think has become very clear, particularly out of the data that we’ve gotten this year, and just a pause, you know, every year DevOps Institute does a community research project known as the upscaling report. And so we reach into the community and ask them about which skills are considered must have, nice to have or not as important. And certainly what are their intentions and position as far as humans and human talent.

 What’s really fascinating is organizations are continuing and accelerating their hiring, right? Whether they’re looking to expand their existing teams, whether they’re looking to add additional skills to their organizations, 60% of the respondents to our survey said they’re recruiting now or in the immediate future, and that’s really pretty remarkable.

 The professionals that are multi dimensional, multi domain are the ones that are going to be in the highest demand. Doesn’t mean you need to be an expert in everything, but if you’re a developer, you have to have security skills, you have to have infrastructure and operational skills, you need To be able to build them, write it, build it, test it, secure it, deploy it, and maybe even operate it. So again, the goal is for the humans of DevOps to really look at their own skills portfolio, and identify where they need to continue their journey on their deep knowledge, and perhaps where they need to broaden the range of other skills as well.

 Job titles that have been recently hired, DevOps engineer continues to really lead in terms of hiring, you know, followed by software engineers, but look at Site Reliability engineers coming in kind of the third place and that’s a real big rise year over year, as we’ve seen more organizations taking SRE approach, because SREs cross the boundaries, right? They cross the borders between working with the development teams, the users, the testers, and of course, their mission is to maintain reliable operating services to their customer base. So again, a lot, a lot of growth.

 But the other good news from the survey is that many organizations are looking first, internally, when they’re looking to hire, so they’re looking to promote, they are looking to grow you as an individual within your organization, right? And then if they can’t identify a resource, or even someone that they can train, then they will go look outside. So the good news is in your current organization, you have a lot of opportunity, right? And again, taking advantage of those opportunities, making yourself you know, as a desirable talent target, again, goes back to what I said before, you have to have deep skills and broad skills in order to be able to meet that obligation.

 You know, it takes a tribe, right, it takes a tribe? DevOps, you know, the concept of DevOps is so broad, it’s not one thing, it’s not only automation, it’s not only a single role, it’s not just the DevOps engineer, it’s not just your process skills, your automation skills. It really is a tribe of skill sets and roles and individuals and motivation that makes DevOps and digital transformation a reality for most organizations, the team is empowered to be able to accomplish a lot because the teams, whether you’re on a single two people team, or whether you’re part of a larger organization, look at these roles, right?

 Every one of these roles and skills is important to make DevOps and digital transformation a reality, right? From the service desk to testing security, process reengineering, architects, right?

 It’s no longer needed to be a siloed organization, where, you know, developers are in the agile team, and then things go downstream to build and then crosses into production and, you know, goes to operations, I told you I was from operations, I would stand in front of the fence kind of waiting to see, you know, what came over. So, again, it takes a tribe and I think that tribe is really important.

 The top five skill domains and skills within each of those domains are important for everyone listening to process. You know, if you look at this skill domains, as I said, it’s not just one, it’s automation skills, it’s process skills, it’s technical skills, it’s functional skills. And last, but definitely not least, are your human skills. And within each of those domains, the top skills that have really emerged year over year as DevOps Institute has done this report, you know, continue to flip around a little bit this year, automation skills really took the top spot because again, look at what we had to do in order to move to a remote work from home environment but that required individuals who didn’t see each other who, you know, probably suffer from a lot of zoom fatigue, but also had to become better collaborators, right?

 They had to become better at sharing their knowledge, better communicators right? Needed to really become more empathic and of course, increase their openness to diversity and inclusion, things that may be in office environment, may have been not as easy or not as apparent as being necessary.

 In technical skills, moving to cloud environments, right? Looking at container orchestration, looking at application technologies. On the process side, understanding flow, which is really value stream management, having a basic knowledge of agile and Scrum and SRE and being able to be a design thinker, I think is important. And everyone, everyone needs to have basic CI\CD skills, DevSecOps, security skills, and then an understanding of IT operations.

 Now, this could be a little daunting, you look at this list and go, you know, Holy moly, how am I going to be able to build this, you don’t need to be an expert at everything, you need to know just enough of each of these areas to really focus your efforts, to make sure that you feel comfortable, at least at a vocabulary level, at a common understanding that your ability to be a better collaborator is something that’s intentional, and not necessarily something that you think is organic. So if you look at the range of people that responded to this survey, it’s really fascinating to me that 69% of the respondents, and we had just about 2100 respondents from around the world, considered human aspects to be, you know, absolutely, as close to the top as possible.

 Alright, so again, don’t undervalue the need for good human skills.

 Of course, as I said, automation and specific automation tool knowledge, there was a little bit of an interesting split there, your automation skills are very, very important. Specific automation is also important. But again, having a general understanding of automation architectures of API? Right, they call it the API economy. And then of course, process and frameworks, which is not necessarily ITIL, or SRE, or Scrum or anything along those lines, those are helpful but really being able to look at systems thinking, to be able to look at flow, right?

 To be able to look at source models, and things like that.

 Technology ecosystems, you know, again, when we look at automation as being significant, also understanding what a what an ecosystem, right how you build or orchestrate your pipelines, your applications, your stack, in order to be able to understand it, again, I’ll say it again, you don’t have to have deep knowledge of each of these but you do need to have some knowledge of each of these. And then functionally, right? Security, for example, operations, as a good example, so that you understand not just your piece of the value stream, but you have a holistic understanding of all of the different functions that are required for software delivery. So again, I’m not going to go through all of this but if you look at the 15 top DevOps skills, it’s kind of fascinating to me that, you know, based on the results of our report, it doesn’t fall into a single category, right?

 It really crosses the domain so that empathy is as important as continuous deployment or IT operations principles, or SRE, and ITSM, or design thinking, you know,

 looking at container orchestration. So this really illustrates I think, people, process and technology, and that you need to put some focus on all of those.

 Now, again, it’s a journey. So if you’re a type A personality like me, you’re not going to be able to kind of figure out a way to get all of these all at once, right?

 You’re going to have to build a plan, that just kind of benchmarks and some of it is peer to peer, some of it is online learning, some of it is formal learning.

 At DevOps Institute, we have eight certifications around topics like continuous delivery, or DevSecOps or SRE, building a recipe for your skills journey, which really affects your career journey, I think is really important and to take ownership of that and then also to have your organization support that.

 Unfortunately, you know, one of the things that we found is formal upscaling programs were not as prevalent as we had hoped. But that you know, training budgets are certainly there and personal initiative, shadowing programs, things like that are starting to really crop up as we become better collaborators and better at sharing our knowledge. So again, however you learn, take control of your skills journey and ask your organization to support that.

 As I said, unfortunately, upskilling programs are lagging and only 39% of the respondents said their organization, does not have a formal upskilling program. That’s sad. Right? You know, there’s some really high profile programs like Amazon, FedEx have them. But I also think that while organizations don’t necessarily have a formal upskilling program many, many organizations, particularly after this year are resourcing, training and resourcing the ability to help their staff get upskilled, whether they’re buying subscriptions to online learning platforms, whether they’re legitimising formal training and paying for training and certification programs.

 Are you ready to reinvent yourself? And I think this is a question you have to ask yourself, right? As a human of DevOps, it’s a brave future. And as I said, the shelf life of your skills are less than they’ve ever been, and to stay in current, staying on top of what the trends and the patterns are, there’s lots of great resources, our friends mediums at container journal, security boulevard, there’s lots of other media sites out there, DevOps Institute, we have a wealth of assets available to our members. But you have to be ready to reinvent yourself.

 At the beginning of today’s presentation, I said that digital transformation is no longer optional, but it is highly dependent on human transformation. So again, if I were in the earliest stages of my career, I would be excited, I would maybe be a little overwhelmed, but no better day than today to be in IT, where you’re required to learn new things every day, where you’re required to work with incredible people, and help the world regardless of where you are, become a digital world and that’s incredibly exciting.

 What you can do absolutely is take control, right? So here’s a little quiz, which I think is interesting. And we’ll get you a copy of these slides.

 But, you know, ask yourself these questions, right? And if you answer no, then ask yourself why, right? Because this is a career choice, right? And it isn’t just a DevOps career choice. DevOps is really just a term that encompass everything that IT does. So it isn’t just CI\CD, and it isn’t just development, and it isn’t just SRE it’s all of the above. But the DevOps human thinks, often, right?

 Is curious, is innovative, is excited to learn new things, loves to collaborate with others, right? Wants to be a change agent, sees the future and really wants to be a key part of it. And I think, you know, everyone listening here has the aptitude to do that. So key takeaways, first of all, look at where you are today, right?

 Where do you think you need to put your initial efforts, reflect on all five of those upskilling domains, figure out what skills have helped you make an impact. And again, it’s usually how you identify, but also explore your willingness to change. And I know we all suffer from change fatigue, plan and prioritize where you’d like to grow, stay focused on value. It’s the only thing that matters to you, your organization, and your team and continue your automation journey, but make sure it reflects your goals. So on that I’m going to again, thank my friends at JFrog for the opportunity to present for you today.

 I’m always excited to speak maybe next year, hopefully we’ll be in person again and we’ll get to meet face to face. As I said before, you know, come away from this, download the upskilling report. It’s really deep. It’s up on our website at DevOps Institute. You can download it for free, talk to your friends about it. There’s some really good takeaways in the report and it’s based on community research, but become a member of DevOps Institute.

 As I said, the basic membership is at no cost. The premium membership gives you some really great access to a team assessment, known as a doc, the assessment of DevOps capabilities, you get a discount on exams and more for 100… Well, now it’s $199. But again, well worth it. And if your enterprises interested reach out to us as well. So again, I really want to thank my friends at JFrog. I hope you have an amazing SwampUP experience and wishing you good health and good learning.

Thank you very much.


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