Level 3's approach to DevOps is focused squarely on accelerating products and services to the enterprise market, according to Andrew Dugan, acting CTO, at Level 3.
Dugan says the company's approach to DevOps is an extension of the Agile approach and is evolving into a Continuous Delivery methodology to produce more rapid software developments and increase collaboration and adoption. And so far, the company is seeing positive results, he told Telco Transformation via email. "We've seen great improvement in quality and time to delivery in those areas where we've deployed, for instance, modeling technology that can synthetically generate permutations of network testing to quickly and accurately identify thousands of possibilities from a set of variations that wouldn't be practical to test manually," he said.
Our conversation with Dugan is part of a series of Telco Transformation Q&As on DevOps, all of which will largely feature the same set of questions. In this Q&A, Dugan provides insight into Level 3's use of DevOps and how it's accelerating service and product delivery.
Telco Transformation: What cultural transformations need to take place in order to implement a DevOps mindset across the entire workforce?
Andrew Dugan: The simple truth is this is not a shift that happens overnight; first and foremost, it requires the entire business to recognize and to embrace the journey.
At Level 3, our approach to DevOps is an extension of the Agile framework -- with its emphasis on frequent delivery, engagement with business leadership and willingness to pivot -- which is evolving into the mindset of Continuous Delivery (CD) with more frequent, reliable and rapid software deployments, increasing collaboration and adoption.
For us, this is the mindset that will accelerate the realization of Level 3's vision of ONE -- one set of products that we take to an expanding market, one network to deliver those products globally, one set of operational support systems to enable a differentiated customer experience and one team with a singular goal of making Level 3 the premier provider of enterprise networking services.
TT: How are employees being trained for new services and applications?
AD: As the Waterfall approach to software development -- which traditionally afforded long lead times and ample user training -- starts to give way to the CD mindset, we're finding a growing reliance on just-in-time training methodologies such as short video modules to give employees the knowledge they need when they need it. This gives operational teams more consistency in their daily work, while still accommodating the ongoing changes facilitated by the work of the IT teams.
TT: How are new employees being recruited?
AD: As a global network services provider, Level 3 is at the center of the rapid advancements in technology. There is no single ideal candidate to be successful in this evolving field, except those who can adapt with the industry, develop the skills as new technologies arise and act as agents of change in the business. Candidates with software development backgrounds come from a wide range of industries with one thing in common: an openness to collaboration and willingness to see the DevOps evolution through.
Level 3 offers a number of recruiting and training programs designed to target people who do not have traditional telecommunications backgrounds for positions throughout the organization. The company also has been recognized as an employer-of-choice because we are willing to invest in our employees and to ensure their success through both classroom and on-the-job training. (Listen to:
Level 3 & Bridging the Skills Gap.)
TT: What is the impact of DevOps on breaking down service silos? Is it the formation of cross-disciplinary groups?
AD: Businesses today can't afford to harbor silos. DevOps strives to break down the walls that separate vital functions. For example, development, test and environment management start to become a coordinated effort enabled by automation, rather than disparate, cumbersome tasks executed by isolated groups. At Level 3, we are embarking on this path, because we believe it's imperative to achieving Level 3's vision of ONE that I mentioned above.
TT: Do you have some examples of how DevOps has changed, or impacted services and applications?
AD: We've seen great improvement in quality and time to delivery in those areas where we've deployed, for instance, modeling technology that can synthetically generate permutations of network testing to quickly and accurately identify thousands of possibilities from a set of variations that wouldn't be practical to test manually.
Watch for more Telco Transformation Q&As on DevOps to learn how other companies are implementing and utilizing this method for rapid innovation and delivery. For previous Q&As on DevOps, check out:
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Managing Editor, Light Reading