DevOps Journeys: Matthew Skelton

11/01/2017   Industry insights   DevOps Journeys  

As part of our DevOps Journeys series, we spoke to Matthew Skelton, Founder and Principal Consultant at Skelton Thatcher Consulting about his experiences with DevOps so far.

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What does DevOps mean to you?

DevOps is an approach to building and operating software systems that values collaboration between the teams ‘building’ and the teams ‘operating’ the systems. For many organisations, this is a challenge enough in itself due to silo thinking and poorly-aligned goals between teams. Taken wider, DevOps implies getting other parts of the organisation joined up to the value chain (finance, commercial, even legal) but few organisations are close to that yet.

What was your first experience of DevOps like?

Although my background is in software development, I have always been close the operations side of things in the systems I have built, so what we now call DevOps feels very natural (and ‘no-brainer’) to me. Certainly back in 2007 when I was part of a team building systems for a large London financial institution, we all were involved in regular operational testing, spending many hours together with networks teams, storage teams, deployment specialists, architects and developers. We effectively designed good parts of the system together with both Dev people and Ops people playing equal and crucial parts.

If you could give yourself some advice when you first started your DevOps ‘journey’, what would you say?

Start with the needs of the team.

What's exciting you within the DevOps space at the moment?

The maturity of logging and metrics tools is really helping many organisations to get up to speed with modern operational techniques. We have found that SaaS tools like LogEntries, HostedGraphite, and PagerDuty can really open people’s eyes to the possibilities and advantages of a metrics-led approach. It is great to be able to help organisations raise their game in this way.

What challenges are you seeing at the moment?

A problem we see is that too many people think that DevOps is just about infrastructure automation & configuration – modern-day sysadmins who can use Git. This limits people’s awareness of what a wider approach to DevOps can bring to an organisation: a transformative capability rather than just some scripted automation.

What do you think the next 'big thing' in the DevOps world will be?

It looks like ‘serverless’ is gaining lots of traction which (aside from the hype) is a good thing. Kubernetes looks promising too.

What are your predictions for DevOps in 5 years?

We will see changes in the types and extents of collaboration between Dev and Ops teams as different kinds of technologies mature. In particular, different approaches are suitable for Docker/containers, managed container stacks like Kubernetes, and serverless architectures like AWS Lambda or Azure Functions. I think we’ll see an appreciation of different team topologies to suit the different technologies and their responsibility boundaries.

I think we will see challenges around Internet of Things (IoT) as organisations begin to adopt IoT more widely. Provable data integrity will also be increasingly important. 

Matthew has been building, deploying, and operating commercial software systems since 1998. Co-founder and Principal Consultant at Skelton Thatcher Consulting, he specialises in helping organisations to adopt and sustain good practices for building and operating software systems: Continuous Delivery, DevOps, aspects of ITIL, and software operability. Matthew curates the well-known DevOps team topologies patterns and is co-author of the books Database Lifecycle Management (Redgate) and Continuous Delivery with Windows and .NET (O’Reilly).