Chief Information Officer

Director of Product Marketing at Puppet on How to Behave Like a Great Software Company

Gia Lyons, Director of Product Marketing at Puppet, took the audience through the process of emphasizing the Ops in DevOps to facilitate a non-software company becoming a great software company.

At the first thought leadership presentation of the day at the 2016 Chief Information Officer Leadership Forum held on December 15 in Atlanta, Lyons stated that, for a couple of decades, she’s had a front-row seat to the pressures that CIOs face. “You have business models evolving by the hour. There’s constant disruption. Technology trends over the years have disrupted business models to a certain extent but quickly became commoditized, so there was no competitive advantage in going with them. Meanwhile, your budgets stay flat or erode, and anything marked for ‘digital’ comes out of IT’s budget, even if marketing is the one spending it. All this constant change is hitting an IT organization that was architected in the 1990s, at best. According to a recent study by the Bain Group, 51% of IT organizations globally aren’t ready for digital,” she pointed out.

“All this constant change is hitting an IT organization that was architected in the 1990s, at best. According to a recent study by the Bain Group, 51% of IT organizations globally aren’t ready for digital.”

“In addition, often it’s the Chief Digital Officer or the Chief Marketing Officer—not the CIO—who’s leading digital transformation. The term ‘digital transformation’ is a shortcut for talking about how IT needs to drive change in the business in order to remain competitive,” said Lyons. “Digital transformation is gut-wrenching change, no matter your industry. Every business model can get disrupted by something as innocuous as an app. Meanwhile, CIOs are spending 75% to 80% of their budget on things like ERP solutions, legacy infrastructure, and so forth. But CIO budgets still have to fund mobile apps, new cloud infrastructure, and so on, even though decision-making points are shifting away from CIOs,” she stated.

“Still, there’s never been a better time to be a CIO. CIOs are turning their companies into software companies—or at least acting like software companies,” Lyons emphasized. “They’re making technology implicit in all products and services. Some of your executive staff don’t get this yet, and it’s your job, as a CIO, to take them with you. You’re operating like a born-in-the-cloud software company. You’re focusing on your end customer, not just your internal customer, which is something your entire organization needs to do. You’re improving your company’s ability to adapt to change and you realize that the best technology and best intentions in the world will just sit there unless you have the best talent.”

“CIOs are turning their companies into software companies—or at least acting like software companies. They’re making technology implicit in all products and services. Some of your executive staff don’t get this yet, and it’s your job, as a CIO, to take them with you.”

Companies that successfully embrace DevOps are significantly more agile than their low-performing competitors, said Lyons. “What, exactly, is DevOps? It’s an evolution of technology, people, and processes.” There are two key goals of DevOps:
• Optimizing the entire software delivery pipeline from end-to-end so developers can build, test, and release software faster and more reliably.
• Getting Operations to partner with everybody. “When you take an end-to-end view of the software delivery pipeline, you see ‘Operations’ is missing. So it’s not just Ops moving quickly, but Ops partnering with everybody (engineering, business) to become a strategic asset,” said Lyons.

Puppet’s research has found that most companies worldwide began their DevOps journey with deployment automation, infrastructure automation, and/or version control. “Basically, they focused on just one thing at first: providing a state-of-the-art infrastructure layer to business customers, which begins with infrastructure-as-code,” said Lyons. “Starting with this makes you a developer. When you treat your infrastructure as code, it’s easy to share that code, collaborate around it, put it in a version-control system, do peer reviews, unit testing, automate your deployments, and more. You also remove bottlenecks in your service delivery pipeline through better collaboration as well as through modern automation. Automation helps you move faster without sacrificing stability or security.”

“When you treat your infrastructure as code, it’s easy to share that code, collaborate around it, put it in a version-control system, do peer reviews, unit testing, automate your deployments, and more. You also remove bottlenecks in your service delivery pipeline.”

In conclusion, Lyons observed, “It’s possible for non-software companies to become great software companies by extending existing agile development practices to infrastructure-as-code operations practices, perhaps starting with just automating the provisioning of development environments. By doing so, you’ll deliver a highly scalable, flexible, and secure platform of infrastructure services that makes the development, deployment, and maintenance of applications a breeze for business owners. You’ll be behaving like a great software company, ready for whatever disruption comes next.”

Visit Argyle Executive Forum's 2019 CIO Leadership Forum: Embracing the Digital Revolution, from Information to Transformation in San Francisco, CA on Sep 10, 2019

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