DevOps Journeys: Milos Gajdos

16/01/2017   Industry insights   DevOps Journeys  

As part of our DevOps Journeys series, we spoke to Milos Gajdos, Co-Organiser of the Kubernetes London Meetup about his experiences with DevOps so far.

You can read the full DevOps Journeys e-Book here

If you wish to be considered as a participant in the next DevOps Journeys e-Book, or would like to share your DevOps Journeys, please get in touch.

What does DevOps mean to you?

DevOps probably means different things to different people, but over the last couple of years I've learnt it is about bringing people together [not only] to ship new software faster and operate it more efficiently and collaboratively. It's about getting different groups of people within an organisation together and showing them how they fit in the larger picture of the organisation whose livelihood depends on shipping the software. By getting people on the same page you're gaining a significant competitive advantage. I think Andrew Clay Shafer said it nicely in one of his Velocity talks: "You're either shipping software or losing to someone else who is!".

What was your first experience of DevOps like?

My first contact was through a community around particular technology. At the time DevOps "professional movement" (as Adam Jacob once called it in one of his conference talks) started grouping around automation, more concretely around configuration management and monitoring technologies. It was around the time of Cloud nascent which "democratised" access to computing resources and accelerated software development. It helps when you don't have to wait for a server while the procurement department finishes filling in hundreds of forms and approvals. Doing things manually on large scale would be a path to disaster and insanity, so people started realising the value of automation and monitoring and that the at the time existing siloed model of shipping and operating software was simply not sustainable.

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

I think how you go about this differs from organisation to organisation. Different organisations have different cultures and different ways how they work. We are all familiar with the famous Conway's law. My advice would be: Focus on people, embrace automation and visibility of every stage of your software delivery pipeline. Figure out how to get people to collaborate better together. Technology can help to enable or improve collaboration, but it's not enough. The ultimate goal is to bring people from diverse professional fields together - this should in theory help to ship software faster and operate it more efficiently. 

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

From a technology point of view, it's obvious that the containers have taken the software world by storm. We have hardly got past the initial phase trying to figure out what the containers are and how to use them effectively as oppose to "fight" them. Jevons paradox has started taking its toll, so we are now slowly moving to the phase of learning how to manage them efficiently at scale. We have finally started moving slowly from server space to application and service space which is super interesting and exciting. That's the technological view. From a general point of view, it's very exciting to see more and more large organisations getting involved with DevOps. I've recently attended DevOps Days London and seen a tremendous amount of people getting on board. This is both promising and exciting. The professional circle is also getting wider; security teams are getting interested and more involved. The DevOps movement has been crawling into organisations of different sizes and that's amazing.

What challenges are you seeing at the moment?

I see one of the biggest challenges in finding the signal in the noise of open source. Cambrian explosion in [not only] open source software space has led us to a paradoxical situation where the choice of the software can become a crucial decision for the success of the organisations. It's easy to break down under the pressure of software vendors and consultants, but it's challenging to choose technology (lots of which are available as open source) which will really help the business. Organisations are finally getting past the virtualization phase, we have a much better understanding how to collect metrics and monitor software, microservices allow self-contained teams move faster. All of this often depends on particular technologies often chosen prematurely or without considering the big picture. There is still a lot of room for improvement in including more diverse groups into the mix: security, storage and network engineers, and let's not forget legacy solutions lurking at every mature organisation. The challenging question is not only how to deal with it, not only from the technological point of view, but also from the organisational. Finally, there is still a lot of horizontal hostility (a term coined by Judith White from Dartmouth) in the DevOps community which comes out as some groups claiming they're doing DevOps [better] than some other groups - whatever "doing DevOps" means in this context. We need to get on the same board as a community too.

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

It's an interesting question. Clearly, from the technological point of view, container orchestration and management are currently on a lot of people's radars. Large organisations are slowly realising the need for a platform and I'd take a cheeky guess that they will come to that realisation sooner or later. That's one of the reasons why Cloud Foundry or Kubernetes are becoming so popular. No one should be shipping software using hand crafted shell scripts. Equally, no one should be setting up the same things all time around. Casey West from Pivotal gave a very good talk on the topic of Minimal Viable Platform at the last DevopsDays London. I think the future of software delivery lies somewhere in there. I'm also quite curious how serverless will fit into the whole picture of software delivery, and what role it will end up playing. But before the magical serverless fairies attack us with their magic wands, I think the organisations will still be spending a fair amount of time building their software delivery pipelines, which could look something like recently introduced Heroku pipelines. Maybe adopting one some kind of platform will help out with this. Let's see.

What are your predictions for DevOps in 5 years?

I'll try to avoid making any predictions as I'm terrible at them. So I'm going to make some guesses and reiterate what I've already mentioned in my previous answers. I think building delivery pipelines and platforms might become the new normal. I hope the attention and focus will move higher up the application stack. We have been talking about this for a while, but the move is happening quite slowly as people have this often unnecessary obsession with owning every piece of their application stack. People will hopefully realise the real value of the company lies way higher than the OS level. We are already living in a much more automated world than a few years ago and we will be pushing this even further in next couple of years, maybe even with a bit of serverless magic sprinkled all over. Machine Learning might also play an interesting role in software delivery in some way. The future feels intriguing. Let's work hard together and make it awesome.

Graduating from Czech Technical University in Prague with a Masters degree in Technical Cybernetics, Milos is a Developer/ Operations Engineer based in London, who also helps to organise Kubernetes London Meetup. He likes automation, building software in various programming languages and has recently rediscovered his passion for Machine Learning and Functional Programming.