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Why your DevOps pipeline must reach the top floor

Wed 9 Jan 2019 | Joshua Boyles

Talking to John Bensalhia, Elsevier’s Joshua Boyles says in today’s world CEOs need a thorough understanding of DevOps culture to optimise their firms’ success

For Joshua Boyles, Elsevier’s Senior Director of DevOps, TIO and Interim Director, Technology Optimization, there are three forces fuelling DevOps:

“The need for businesses to deliver high quality software quickly and predictably for minimal cost (time, materials, resources); the rapid evolution of tooling and infrastructure primarily in the cloud; and the need to keep our (Elsevier’s) folks engaged, happy, and contributing at high levels in often highly competitive environments.”

Describing the trends driving DevOps implementation, Joshua cites two vital factors.

“First, today’s software solutions, with things like loosely coupled architecture, infrastructure as code, containerisation, and serverless functions in play, should be viewed as inclusive combinations of what used to be known as application and infrastructure and the need to evolve predictably in relatable ways to optimise the user experience.”

“Ultimately, the challenges for each depend on the origin points and sizes of each organisation”


Joshua adds the DevOps design and construction of the software delivery pipeline is non-negotiatable for firms looking to thrive.

“The processes, tools, and behaviours (culture) that support the speed, quality, cost, and predictability of delivery are becoming more and more visible in the C-suite as foundational for not only efficient operations but critically, for a culture that enables the firm and its most valuable resources, its employees and teams, to thrive.”

There are many approaches to DevOps: such as how to implement, transform, evolve; judging at what pace; and balancing between autonomous and prescriptive alignment. Joshua explains that the underlying behaviour, including openness (honesty without blame), sharing, experimentation, and cohesion with scale, is foundational to any successful DevOps culture.

“Ultimately, the challenges for each depend on the origin points and sizes of each organisation.”

“At Elsevier, for example, we are a big company that has been around a long, long time. So, our biggest challenges are changing how we think and execute as we interact across a large organisation with a complex portfolio.

Aligning our business functions (Technology, Product Management, HR, Finance, PMO, Leadership) on these very different ways of thinking, working, and setting priorities, while respecting and including the wealth of input we receive from our staff as each are engaged in our transformation, is tricky.”

“Those CEOs who take the time to gain this perspective will be better positioned to optimise their firms’ successes”

“As we continue to improve on our capabilities, our challenges in the DevOps space will become more refined, with different pain points becoming more relevant over time. So, I think the most notable challenges with respect to DevOps are in recognising and selecting the right starting point for each team/squad/organisation and then empowering those groups with the correct guide rails to recognise and address the pain points as they become observable, evolve, and wink out.”

DevOps must reach the top floor

For the sake of a successful business CEO, an understanding of the processes, tools, and culture of effective software delivery is paramount. “As the presence of technology has evolved, it has become more and more critical to the success of all firms,” says Joshua.

“Society and the things important to the individuals within have also evolved dramatically – both within our homes and within our workplaces,” he adds.

“Underlying the dependencies of businesses on technology and the evolution of our societal norms, is the rapid progression of technology itself – DevOps, AI, machine learning, the cloud, IoT. In order for CEOs to be successful today, they have needed to be well versed in their firm’s products’ market(s) and the practices of running a firm (leadership, finance, operations, sales, marketing, etc.).”

Joshua explains that in today’s world, it is critical for CEOs to understand the world of technology.

“This means knowing how to leverage technology to support, deliver, sell, market, operate, and most importantly evolve their product portfolio with and ahead of technology. Dependent on that success is the understanding of how to leverage and support their teams within a culture that provides the predictability, innovation, speed to market, and cost controls that are critical to any business. This is where an understanding of the DevOps culture comes into play.”

“Those CEOs who take the time to gain this perspective will be better positioned to optimise their firms’ successes.”

Joshua will be speaking at Techerati’s forthcoming DevOps Live event, taking place on 12th and 13th March 2019 at London’s ExCeL Centre. To hear from Joshua and other DevOps experts from around the world, register today for your FREE ticket.

Session Details

Location: DevOps, Containers and Software Architecture Theatre

Time: 13:10 – 13:35, 12th March

Experts featured:

Joshua Boyles

Senior Director DevOps, TIO and Interim Director, Technology Optimization


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