[E6] DOES 2019 Las Vegas Interviews – Marc Halcrow’s and Jeremy Douglas’ Key Takeaways from DOES19

By Jayne Groll  September 5, 2019

On this episode of the Humans of DevOps Podcast, Jayne Groll interviews DevOps Institute’s Marc Halcrow and Catapult PR’s Jeremy Douglas on their key takeaways from DevOps Enterprise Summit 2019.

The lightly edited transcript can be found below.

Outro:
You’re listening to The Humans of DevOps Podcast. A podcast focused on advancing The Humans of DevOps through skills, knowledge, ideas and learning or the SKIL framework. Here’s your host, DevOps Institute, CEO Jayne Groll.

Jayne Groll:
Hi everyone. This is Jayne Groll, CEO of the DevOps Institute and welcome to another episode of The Humans of DevOps Podcast. We’re here at DevOps Enterprise Summit this week in Las Vegas and I’m joined today by two of my favorite gentlemen, Marc Halcrow of DevOps Institute, Jeremy Douglas of Catapult PR. I think what we’re going to talk about today is kind of perceptions on the event but before we do that, Marc, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Marc Halcrow:
Sure. Marc Halcrow, I’m in charge of global development at DevOps Institute. Have been involved in the IT arena for – hard to believe – over 20 years now and have been involved in the DevOps arena for just going over two years now. It’s been interesting in terms of what’s taking place in this very exciting and dynamic community.

Jayne Groll:
Jeremy, why don’t you introduce yourself.

Jeremy Douglas:
Sure, yeah. I’m Jeremy Douglas from Catapult PR, director of client engagement at the company, actually run by my mom, Terri Douglas and her partner, Guy Murrel. We’ve been doing the DevOps Enterprise Summit since it started in 2014 when we were at this little hotel out by the airport in San Francisco and it’s changed a lot. I’m excited to sort of recap what we’ve been seeing the last couple of days.

Jayne Groll:
Yeah and you know, both of you have been to this event before year over year so I’m sure you have a lot of perspective and of course you’re both really involved in this space. Inside and outside of the conference we get to see what we think is trending out there and then we come to the event and we hear a lot of experience reports, we talk to a lot of people and we kind of benchmark whether what’s actually we think is happening out there is really happening in real life. If each of you would just share, like what’s your takeaway so far, Marc from the event. I mean we’re on day two.

Marc Halcrow:
Yeah. A takeaway from my perspective, which is interesting, I would say are three things overall perse have more of a business background in nature than a technical background, so it’s interesting to see. I was just in a session a couple minutes ago with the big four auditing firms altogether. Something that they had mentioned it took four years to get to this point and one of the reasons that they did get to this point is that DevOps is crossing the chasm in nature and with that it’s an opportunity. While these organizations are competitors with each other, there’s a greater need for the community at hand for them to support and work with each other to raise awareness. Secondly, on that front, it’s interesting, there’s various sessions where both Delta Airlines and American Airlines similar to the big four are in sessions together.

Once again, the crossing the chasm that’s taking place, which is very interesting and what’s going on. Also like I mentioned, having been in this space for over 20 years, this is the first conference I would say in about 10 years that I’ve been to where I saw more people that I knew 20 years ago that are in this space and it’s interesting because these are seasonal folks that may have had a mainframe background. If it’s, say for example, Chris O’Malley at Compuware has a strong presence here as some other folks that work with some of the large organizations, Fortune 50, Fortune 100 organizations that are seasoned professionals that are now entering this space from whatever myriad of background that they had.

It’s really growing in nature. The names of organizations that are here I think it’s just getting more and more prominent of names that we do know rather than your typical Facebook, Amazon, your fangs in nature. I think those are some of the interesting things that I’ve seen and this is only having been at DevOps Enterprise Summit twice now.

Jeremy Douglas:
Yeah. It’s changing quickly, right?

Jayne Groll:
Yeah.

Jeremy Douglas:
That’s for sure.

Marc Halcrow:
Yeah.

Jayne Groll:
Yeah and Jeremy, you have a long heritage because as you said, you’ve been from the first to now, so what are you seeing that’s the same? What are you seeing that’s different? What’s the energy?

Jeremy Douglas:
Energy is always high. The DevOps Enterprise Summit, it seems like people really are excited to be here for several different reasons. I think this year in particular, we’re seeing a lot of unicorns and I don’t mean that in a company sense I mean that in the literal sense. You know, obviously there’s a lot of excitement around Jayne’s book and sort of what they’re doing from the unicorn project standpoint but I would say that the DevOps Enterprise Summit is, Jayne talks about this typically at the beginning of the opening remarks but as adult learners, it’s one of the places we come to sort of grow and expand our minds.

I think one constant theme I keep hearing about is this thing about learning and how much context actually matters today because there’s so many complex systems out there, there’s so many dependencies on different systems, even within a system. John Willis was telling me a really interesting story about some of the DevSecOps stuff that he’s seeing and how maybe there’s nine different security breaches but it’s really that 10th one that kind of keeps it all preventable. Again, if you start thinking about the systems of systems, you really start thinking about how you need to learn about how these work and how they are interdependent or dependent upon each other.

One really anecdote I want to share was from Cornelia Davis actually. She said she’s actually going back and reading code. To learn about actually how a system or how the software is actually running because it’s so easy now to just log onto a computer and find a solution, right? For what you maybe need to do from code sample but you’re actually learning the code, which I thought was interesting. We’ve gotten really good to learn how to find information. We have maybe gotten worse about learning the context behind that information. I think one thing that we’re always sort of challenged with as The Humans of DevOps Jayne is how do we provide more context? How do we create more teamwork flow? All that sort of stuff around one central purpose, right?

Marc Halcrow
That’s interesting with that about actually doing the code, that’s I guess similar in nature to how it is now. If you’re in elementary school and you’re just given a calculator rather than actually learning the principles behind how to add and divide and multiply.

Jayne Groll:
Yeah, it’s kind of fascinating, right? You know, and one of the things I find really fascinating about DevOps Enterprise Summit and it goes back, so I don’t know what year this is for me. I wasn’t at the first one. Right. I started in the second one is that when the Phoenix project was first released and you have to think about kind of the pathways, right? The Phoenix project is a novel. The unicorn project is a novel and how these two books, well, Phoenix project and now of course the expectations on the Unicorn project really helps shape an entire community, right? Continuous learning was the third way in the Phoenix project, right? And if you look at the first two ways, those were the ones that were probably the easiest for organizations to be able to process. Yes, we have to increase flow.

We have to go faster. Yes, we have to shorten feedback loops. We have to be able to do more testing. We have to be able to have that opportunity to have the cycle happen fast and then there was this third way that said, “Continuously learn and experiment.” And I bet you at the beginning people kind of went, “That’s okay.” All right but now you fast forward and you see that continuous learning is very much embedded. I mean, you know, DevOps Institute, some people know we introduced the SKIL framework, right? Skills, Knowledge, Ideas, and Learning really do address the holistic learning needs of the human. It’s really gratifying to see the continuous learning organizational learning is really taking hold from very, very human perspective and you see that everywhere here. I mean it’s been embedded in a lot of the presentations, it’s in a lot of the hallway track conversations and the curiosity, the ability to want to learn. I think it has become … if not the style of learning, right? Everybody learns in a different way but the style of learning is there.

The other thing, and as I’m interested in your opinion on this is that in the early days of DevOps Enterprise Summit, we didn’t see a lot of Ops, right? There was always this kind of question about what is Ops, right? Is it Dev Dev, is it Ops Ops? Is it infrastructure? Right? And you’re starting to see a lot more sessions, a lot more discussion about IT Ops about site reliability engineering. Certainly. I think there’s a stronger Ops representation here and again is as you both know and the listeners don’t yet. We introduced SRE foundation certification today. The press release went out about that. It will be available in January and I think that’s a reflection.

The fact that we even introduced a certification is a reflection that the evolution of DevOps is going beyond production, right? That it couldn’t stop at deployment, it had to have a natural pathway into production and well, we know there are SRE events. You’re seeing those sessions, I mean Jason Cox from Disney is going to speak about as SRE. We’re seeing a lot more kind of that combined effort. What do you think about that? I mean what are you seeing?

Marc Halcrow:
Well it’s interesting and I think similar to, and for those of you that haven’t read any of the Unicorn Project then close your ears but it was interesting because I was talking to a good friend of mine who is in charge of a large pump organization, multimillion dollar organization. We’re talking about DevOps and here’s saying what can this do for my organization? And he’s on the business side and similar to like with the Unicorn Project and highlighting the fact of how does this impact the organization but if it impacts the point of sale systems, websites and we’re seeing the business side so it’s Dev, it’s Ops but it even expands beyond that to a different size on the business side of the house marketing and various other groups that are impacted by technology these days, which is very interesting.

Jayne Groll:
Yeah, value is not created until somebody uses your product, right? I mean, and I think that recognition is there and you can’t use it unless it’s supported. I mean, again, you’ve been here year over year and I know you’ve kind of looked at speakers and in your role in PR work with a lot of the influencers in the space and they are also pivoting a little bit in the Ops direction, which is kind of a little ironic because there’s a new emphasis on Ops but there’s also this kind of Dev first mentality. What are you seeing in terms of that Jeremy?

Jeremy Douglas:
Yeah, I mean the paradigm is always changing between dev and ops. I think people today recognize more than ever they need these engineers to create innovation fast and that’s how you’re going to sort of leap frog or disrupt a marketplace. We’ve seen it time and again and I think there’s always been use cases and or experience reports that kind of show that the DevOps Enterprise Summit every year. As far as like an ops perspective, I mean that’s the programming committee being able to have sort of an inside look into sort of how some of them operate and sort of how they set their own agenda. Ops is always one of those things that people sort of pound the table about because we need more ops, we need more ops and to give you a quick little anecdote, back in the first ever DevOps Enterprise Summit, Glenn O’Donnell, who is one of the research directors at Forrester Research, he’s been in this space for 20 years.

Anyway, really cool guy but I think something that will always stick with me, he said, you need to be the automator, not the automated and so much of the operational stuff is trying to be automated by tools and processes, which is great but I think the implicit thing that he said that people didn’t really necessarily latch onto that moment was we need to up skill these people to be the automator just as much as we’re building these tools and processes in place to create automation, create fast flow, create that iteration, that iterative work between humans that really makes the difference in the end of the day and so fast forward to now, we see SRE. That was such a big topic in London earlier this year at the DevOps Enterprise Summit London, a couple of people from Google got up and spoke about it.

John Allspaw, again, he’s another guy that just, it’s all about the human elements of building resiliency and you can’t do that with just processes and tools. There’s such a holistic or more direct approach needed and it’s really, we’re seeing a much more on the ops side. I think now more than ever. Devs are in such demand. I think that’s one of the fastest growing job opportunities for people across the world, right? Just like DevOps Engineer as LinkedIn said last year but it’s this whole idea of how are we going to create resilient systems going back to the systems of systems, how do we create resiliency through high-performance?

Jayne Groll:
Well, you know what’s interesting about that and kind of I know we’re going to run out of time but one of the other observations that really came out of London but we’re seeing it more and very gratifying to us because that is our mission to advance The Humans of DevOps is there is a focus on humans, right? There’s a focus on burnout. There’s a focus on wellness, there’s a focus on take care of yourself. Dominica DeGrandis, and I just spent some time talking about that but there is a theme now that recognizes that mental health, that self care, that wellness, that burnout are-

Jeremy Douglas:
Work place engagement too.

Jayne Groll:
… Yeah. Workplace engagement. Starting to see investments in, I don’t like the term soft skills but we’ll call them human skills that organizations that in the past might’ve dismiss that as being kind of soft and squishy or just something that is hard to deal with because humans are opinionated, right? But has now really risen. Dr. Christina McCulloch speaking here, spoke in London as well about burnout. We’re doing global skill up day. We’re going to do some wellness videos in between. There is a hyper awareness now that in an industry where change is so frequent and it’s so easy to suffer from change fatigue, that we as an industry and organizations as hiring organizations have to care for their employees and we have to care for ourself. What are you seeing about that?

Marc Halcrow:
It is something I think that organizations need to change and if you look at how change was in the past, it wasn’t that often, right? If you look at where the fourth industrial revolution and what’s taking place from the time we went from horse and buggy to car continuing in the evolution to the fourth industrial revolution, change has never taken place as quickly as it has today. It needs to be addressed and in order to address that, people need to change and organization’s need to change. Also from a change perspective and a support perspective, we’re looking at the baby boomers, they’re starting to retire. We have this workforce that is starting to retire.

They have a wealth of knowledge that needs to be transferred, they need to be recognized and now we have this whole new generation that is coming into the workforce and once again, something that is the first time ever out, at least from my perspective in terms of what’s going on, that children are learning in the classroom on television screens and whiteboards. It’s the first time ever going back probably to the 11, 12 hundreds where people didn’t learn by chalk.

Jayne Groll:
Right,

Marc Halcrow:
Right? Here we have all these things taking place. We have an over stimulus in terms of technology and what’s going on. It’s great that organizations are addressing it. Some organizations better than others but at least now there’s a forum for people and organizations to engage and share with each other what works and what doesn’t work.

Jeremy Douglas:
Yeah, and I think that, I mean, not to get into in the weeds of like economics and stuff, that’s actually what I studied in school. Passion of mine is the study of purposeful human action. Why do people do what they do? Well these days, I also see it and I know that both of you see this as well but the opportunity cost to hire talent is so high now that they’re saying, “Screw it. I’m going to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in my own talent that I have right now and make sure that they get upskilled to a higher level that we’ve never seen before.” I think we’re seeing it … obviously there’s the companies that are in the tech space that recognize the need to sort of drive this internally. Amazon’s a very good example of that but we’re going to see a lot of that transformation work continuing especially aroundthe people and because it’s the cost is too high to nowadays

Jayne Groll:
And the talent isn’t available.

Jeremy Douglas:
And the talent isn’t available because the gap was never filled the same way as the tools and the processes.

Jayne Groll:
Yeah. It’s almost like, we talk about technical debt, cultural debt, this is like human debt, right?

Jeremy Douglas:
Exactly.

Jayne Groll:
Is that we didn’t invest in the humans, we invested in the software and now we’re paying for that and it’s not only upskilling Amazon, as you know, is investing announced a huge investment in upscaling but I also think that it’s keeping your employees happy so that they don’t go to the next guy who is going to keep them happy. Right? I think that’s a part of it. Anyhow, we’re running out of time. We’re in day two. What are you hoping on day three?

Marc Halcrow:
On day three. Good question. A break.

Jeremy Douglas:
A nap.

Marc Halcrow:
That’s for day four I think is the break. From my side, I think it’s great in day three to continue the conversations that have already started. Overall, I think there’s some great sessions for day three as well. Looking forward to for myself to continuously learn from others from the other speakers and that’s what I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Jayne Groll:
Awesome.

Jeremy Douglas:
Yeah.

Jayne Groll:
Jeremy, what are you looking for?

Jeremy Douglas:
For me it’s meeting someone new. Someone I haven’t met before so I met several new people this time. I’m lucky enough to see a lot of familiar faces around here as well but I want to meet a couple of new people tomorrow and connect and continue this conversation as we move forward but it’s a great place to do that and I think we always have an opportunity to do that anyways.

Jayne Groll:
Yeah, that’s a great goal. I mean I’ve met so many people year over year at this event that have become friends in the community and also influences in the community as well and I think that’s my goal for tomorrow too, is find somebody new, right?

Jeremy Douglas:
Yeah.

Jayne Groll:
Because they become part of your personal community and if we’re going to support each other, having that type of pipeline is important as well. Well, thank you for spending a little bit of time with me. You are both humans of DevOps and so a sharing kind of your insight your lens onto the DevOps Enterprise Summit, I think is really valuable and if you are a human of DevOps listening to this podcast, thank you. We have some upcoming episodes from some pretty interesting folks that are here as well, talking about a variety of different topics. Stay tuned for future episodes. This is Jayne Groll. I’m CEO of the DevOps Institute. I am a human of DevOps and wishing everyone a great day. Thanks very much.

Outro:
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