Recently, Evolven CEO and Founder, Sasha Gilenson, had the opportunity to be interviewed by Bob Aiello, Editor-in-Chief for CM Crossroads for the CM Crossroads community. The informative interview focused on the challenges in release management and how DevOps addresses these issues. Below is the full interview transcribed for your convenience. You can see the interview on the CM Crossroads.
Background on Bob Aiello
Bob Aiello is the Editor-in-Chief for CM Crossroads and a Principal Consultant for CM Best Practices Consulting specializing in Software Process Improvement including Software Configuration and Release Management. Mr. Aiello has over 25 years experience as a technical manager in several top NYC Financial Services firms where he had company-wide responsibility for CM, often providing hands-on technical support for enterprise Source Code Management tools, SOX/Cobit compliance, build engineering, continuous integration and automated application deployment.
Bob serves on the IEEE Software and Systems Engineering Standards Committee (S2ESC) Management Board, where has also served as the Vice Chair of the IEEE 828 CM Planning working group.
Bob is the co-author (with Leslie Sachs) of the recently published book, Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World (available on Amazon)
Mr. Aiello holds a Masters in Industrial Psychology from NYU and a B.S. in Computer Science and Math from Hofstra University. You may contact Mr. Aiello at Bob.Aiello@ieee.org or link with him at http://www.linkedin.com/in/bobaiello
Original Video Interview Published in CM Crossroads: The Configuration Management Community.
Bob Aiello: Welcome to the broadcast Sasha!
Sasha Gilenson: Thank you
Bob Aiello: It's a pleasure to have you here today. I'd like you to start perhaps with giving, your definition of what DevOps is and what it's all about.
Sasha Gilenson: So, I believe that DevOps is a combination of practices, masses of processes and tools; designed to bring together two organizations that traditionally didn't cooperate so much – development and operations.
Bob Aiello: So, I think you bring in a really good point to get started. Why would you say that development and operations is…and by the way I think you are absolutely right. I completely agree with you…why would you say that sometimes development and operations has kind of a different view of things and might need some help with working together more effectively?
Sasha Gilenson: There are multiple reasons for this situation. Lets starts with different types of focus. You know, where development is focused on creation…you know…as fast as possible creating a new functionality or resolve some code issues. Operations are charged with taking this and putting this into production and ensuring that it runs and delivers service for business. The processes are different, you know, the focus is different. The tools used are unfortunately different as well. There are a lot of reasons it creates a different culture and different philosophy and some gaps between these two organizations.
Bob Aiello: You bring up some really important points. Very often, in my work as being configuration management guru, I'm often finding myself in both camps – I'm with the developers helping them rapidly and iteratively develop their software, and then, running over to operations to make sure that they know how to deploy and very often be able to role back a release. So, you bring in some really important points to this discussion. What would you say are some of the challenges are that DevOps helps us address by this new way of looking at things?
Sasha Gilenson: So, I think that the most important challenge is to ensure growing quality and productivity in the situation when the pace of the changes and releases is drastically increasing. You know…many organizations I am working with already switched to Agile methods and use such practices as continuous integration and continuous build and as a result, what was once released per year and a minor release per quarter turns into dozens and sometimes hundreds of changes going to production sometimes on a daily basis. And to be able to address this challenge, a new type of organization, a new type of process and tools is required.
Bob Aiello: So, of course the ITIL framework has defined from many organizations the industry standard for handling IT service management, is used a lot in operations,…of course ITIL doesn't have much to say about the development per say, but you know how do you see ITIL and Agile really helping us to define what we do on a day to day basis with DevOps?
Sasha Gilenson: I think that the only way they will be able to help is if they will be integrated. And Agile is about finding, you know, a practice, relying on the people a lot and that can bring dynamically high quality deliverables to the market.
While we look at ITIL is focusing on ensuring again a long-term sustainability of business service delivered by the deployed software. And I believe that creating actually a common set of information, one point of view for development side and for operation side; being able to create common terminology actually, that, you know, that unifies the Agile methods and ITIL; creating a set of tools that also integrates these processes and automates them altogether. That's what required for Agile and ITIL actually to ensure dynamic environment and to ensure high pace of change and high quality of these changes.
Bob Aiello: So, very often we find that it can be tough to get an organization to change, overcoming resistance to change; it's got many challenges to it. Tools may be great but actually getting the organization to use the tools and adopt the new way of doing things. You know, what would you say are the most important things for an organization to consider when they are trying to improve their DevOps practices?
Sasha Gilenson: So, first of all, I think that I would like to get back toa few points I have mentioned before. In order to make this work, there is a need to make a cultural shift, and to make a cultural shift, you need to have the same view and speak the same language. So, one of the things is, for an organization to produce a single set of information available to all the stakeholders of a process. The second thing is to create the same language, the same way to look into this information and reach the same conclusion. And the third part, I would say is the tools platform; because if a new practice creates overhead, no organization will adopt it. So, you need automation, you need automation platform to ensure that the new practices actually increase the productivity rather than introducing overhead. And of course, you know you need to follow the usual organizational change practices to ensure that such a major change does happen successfully.
Bob Aiello: Now, our environments – particularly in training environments and lots of other business applications - are increasingly complex. They have many moving part and you know, UNIX administrators have been setting up Nagios and other simple tools to monitor the environment. What do you think the real advantages are of really handling environment configurations and environment surveillance in a more robust fashion? What do you see the real advantages are, particularly in a practical business setting, which I know you are very involved with and I am very involved with; what do you think we need to be able to do?
Sasha Gilenson: So, as you have mentioned, the challenge is that you have so many technologies and have so many moving pieces that are inter-dependant and today - each of the pieces come with a lot of configuration. To give you a specific example, you know, the WebSphere application and service, which is frequently used in the financial industry, comes with something like, 16,000 configuration parameters. You know Oracle, has 100s and 100s, , about 1200 parameters, only at the level of database server configuration. So, what happens is that there is a lot of information that you still need to collect, you need to centralize it. So, again all the stakeholders need to have the common view. But at the same time, you also need to have intelligent analysis on top of this, so that it will cut through all this complexities, through all this noise and will help the people involved in operational management and people involved in change management to get the essential and critical information.
Bob Aiello: So Sasha, what's next? What do you see as being the future of DevOps? We've got something that are evolving right now – some new practices; they've obviously got some great success. What do you see coming up in the future?
Sasha Gilenson: So, I see the evolution of DevOps, very similar to what happened to service management in beginning of 2000 and 2001. When the need for a new role, emerged a virtual practice, a virtual role, became a dedicated position in organization; a dedicated team was created. So, I think this will happen in DevOps as well. People will be allocated to this function with all the responsibility, accountability but also the authority. And then, I believe, that processes will mature, there will be this integration, between the development process crossing this chasm into development and operation into production. And the third, I believe, is the right tools for automation of these processes will emerge as well. So, there are certain vendors that try to address this need to already today but I believe that as the process will mature, also the set of tools will be expanding and maturing.
Bob Aiello: Thanks for joining us today Sasha. You've given us a lot of good information and we appreciate your insights
About Sasha GilensonChief Executive Officer, co-founder
Sasha Gilenson enjoyed a long and successful career at Mercury Interactive (acquired by HP), having led the company's QA organization, participating in establishing Mercury's Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as leading a Business Unit in Europe and Asia.
Sasha played a key role in the development of Mercury's worldwide Business Technology Optimization (BTO) strategy and drove field operations of the Wireless Business Unit, all while taking on the duties as the Mercury's top "guru" in quality processes and IT practices domain. In this capacity, Sasha has advised numerous Fortune 500 companies on technology and process optimization, and in turn, acquired a comprehensive and rare knowledge of the market and industry practices.
Sasha holds an M.Sc. in Computer Science from Latvian University and MBA from London Business School.