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How to do DevOps at scale? Start with your customers

At the DevOps Enterprise Summit in San Francisco, senior technology editor Valerie Silverthorne sat down with Kaimar Karu, head of product strategy and development with London-based Axelos, to talk about the challenges of scaling DevOps.

The issue isn't really about doing DevOps to scale as much as it is about changing the mindset, Karu said, and he pointed to what companies have tried for years to do with Agile as proof of that. Simply "making something bigger" doesn't mean it actually works. Instead he thinks companies need to focus on what's required to get to the goal, and in many cases, that's going to mean adding new layers of process. And it's definitely going to mean a strong focus on what Karu calls the "service mindset," something that is often completely absent when a company begins to try to do Agile or DevOps at scale. Too often, "new practices come from reheated old practices and a different view is needed," Axelos' Karu said.

To really take DevOps (or Agile) to the next level, an organization needs to put the customer first in every interaction. But Karu admits this isn't easy and that it's going to require serious institutional change. No more writing code for fun or opting for new tools because they're cool. "The customer doesn't necessarily get the value from those things," Karu explained. So that means they're not worth doing. The bottom line: Developers need to be prepared to actually talk with customers and understand their points of view. Otherwise, rolling out DevOps at scale is going to be meaningless.

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