DevOps Journeys: Grant Smith

01/06/2017   DevOps Journeys  

As part of our DevOps Journeys series, we spoke to Grant Smith, Author of Next Gen DevOps, about his experiences with DevOps.

You can read the full DevOps Journeys e-Book here

If you'd like to contribute to the next DevOps Journeys or would like to give an interview, please get in touch with us, we'd love to hear from you!

What does DevOps mean to you?

DevOps is how I solve engineering problems. There aren't any alternatives that don't also force me to solve communication, organisation, prioritisation and strategic direction problems before I can get to the engineering problems.

What are the things that you see that people are still not getting right with DevOps?

Non-functional requirements. In other engineering disciplines, non-functional requirements have as much impact on a solution as the functional requirements. Software Engineering rarely takes non-functional requirements into account until it's too late.

What was the biggest mistake you made when starting out with DevOps?

I jumped straight into trying to solve configuration management problems rather than focusing on the outcomes I wanted to achieve. I'm in good company most people who tackle a DevOps transformation do something similar whether it's configuration management, continuous integration, containers, orchestration.

DevOps has gone mainstream - is that a good thing?

It can only be a good thing that DevOps has gone mainstream. DevOps improves the lives of engineers and leads to better solutions.

How should we measure the success of DevOps?

As much as I hate to trot out an old cliche DevOps is a working practice so you measure it's success the same way we measure any change to the way we work. Are we producing better solutions faster? If you're about to embark on anything transformative establish your metrics, measure them before the change and afterwards. The last large DevOps transformation initiative I led reduced the time taken to provide infrastructure to project teams from three weeks to four hours, (including design time) I made sure we had good metrics defined before we released the solution.

What are your predictions for the future of DevOps?

The next big problem for DevOps is data. We can now manage software with software, networks with software, infrastructure with software but data is much harder to manage. I imagine the solution will be a large scale abandonment of data monoliths in the same way that we've abandoned software monoliths.

Grant has created and led high-performance Operations teams in some of the largest and fastest growing companies in the UK over the last 18 years and has been at the forefront of the DevOps movement for the last seven years. Grant has driven real collaboration between Operations and Development teams in AOL, Electronic Arts, British Gas and the Department for Work and Pensions by implementing Infrastructure as code and driving application integration from continuous build systems. Grant has delivered game platforms running in the cloud enjoyed by millions of players per day and websites serving a billion page views per month. Most recently he has delivered a high performance, scalable Infrastructure delivery systems at the DWP. Grant is frequently sought out for his cloud and DevOps expertise and can be reached at