Accenture has DevOps in its DNA, and it's evangelizing the benefits of DevOps across multiple client verticals.
Before it became a buzzword with service providers and enterprises, Accenture, a global professional services and consulting company, was implementing the principals of DevOps for years. The company's DevOps practice is almost 1,000 people with approximately 4,000 people collaborating in the DevOps community of practice.
To learn more about how Accenture teaches and uses DevOps internally, as well as the work it's doing with clients, Telco Transformation interviewed Gino Galassi, product lead at Accenture Video Solution.
Our conversation with Galassi is part of a series of Telco Transformation Q&As on DevOps, all of which will largely feature the same set of questions.
Telco Transformation: What cultural transformations need to take place in order to implement a DevOps mindset across the entire workforce?
Gino Galassi: One of the things that has caused the DevOps community to thrive is its open-source, collaborative nature and we have replicated that in our own DevOps transformation for digital video. We have moved from a waterfall method, to agile, which has increased the predictability of delivery moving from bigger six month projects to weekly highly automated software sprints. This approach supports our digital video clients' demand for collaboration, fast time-to-market, predictability and the ability to respond rapidly to changing demands, which is key in a digital world.
It represents a significant shift in the software development culture as small groups of people are given overall ownership of the software working together across the end to end process rather than separate teams specialized on one specific stage like development, testing and so on.
We also believe that one of the key enablers to implement a real DevOps approach is the architectural transformation from monolithic to micro services. Take our own video solution for example, which is an open, micro modular, scalable digital video platform. It is currently segmented into dozens of micro services and each micro service has a dedicated team responsible for the entire process from design to automatic production deploy, working in parallel and automatically testing interoperability with the other micro services. Because these people are responsible for the entire end-to-end process, they are more likely to be engaged and driven to achieving business goals.
Test automation and deployment automation are also a foundation of the move to DevOps and aids collaboration and automating those tasks reduces the risk of human error and gives people time to focus on other, more innovative, activities that can drive more value.
TT: How are employees being trained for new services and applications?
GG: Accenture has developed a proper DevOps certification course to enable our people to learn DevOps principles and technologies. Initially we built a critical mass of people within the company who understand what DevOps delivery entails and what benefits this provides. Whilst this course doesn't give us deeply skilled DevOps practitioners, it means they have a good understanding of what it means and can talk knowledgeably about it. The course focuses on the "continuous delivery" element of DevOps. We introduce the concepts of delivery pipelines, working with small batch sizes, and the fact that huge amounts of testing can be automated. Crucially, we try to make it really practical. If you simply talk about infrastructure as code, you'll soon lose your audience, but if people can stand up their own instance of our DevOps platform in the cloud and actually start using it, they learn quickly.
We also believe that being trained on the job is important to get people up to speed quickly, and to really embrace the culture change and get used to working collaboratively.
TT: How are new employees being recruited?
GG: DevOps is still relatively new but it is driving huge demand for skilled workers across the industry and as such, competition is fierce. While we are recruiting externally, we are doing as much as possible to train our workforce and are rewarding our people that are making the change with a webscale, DevOps-dedicated software career path. We have also embedded constructs around DevOps and software engineering into our core training courses for new joiners so our next generation of engineers are learning their trade in a DevOps-centric way.
TT: What is the impact of DevOps on breaking down service silos?
GG: Breaking down the silos is a key part of moving to DevOps. It is about segmenting smaller amounts of work with teams working in parallel and taking advantage of automation so that work can be scaled quickly and testing done frequently and early, resulting in minimal human errors.
The total benefit of DevOps is the sum of improved time to market, business agility, productivity gains and reduced running costs. Increasing the ability of IT systems to service the needs of the business is paramount.
TT: Do you have some examples of how DevOps has changed, or impacted services and applications?
GG: At a large Asian telecommunications company, Accenture worked closely with the client to build a new software development culture leveraging a number of DevOps and agile practices and principles. Automation in the lifecycle and organizational and process changes significantly reduced effort and led to faster time to market for application releases. By embracing the new software development culture, the client was able to reduce the cost of quality associated with configuration and deployment by 50%.
At a media company, Accenture helped launch a new cloud-based sales support platform using DevOps. By working with us, the company set up a rapid software delivery factory allowing developers to easily collaborate, understand system requirements, write software code, get feedback from tests and evaluate the code's suitability for release as fast as possible. As a result, the company can bring new, high-quality B2B products to market ahead of competitors. The new platform enables retailers to present their customers with a wide range of carrier, service plan (tariff) and device options and to activate the devices quickly, while the customer is in the store.
Watch for more Telco Transformation Q&As on DevOps to learn how other companies are implementing and utilizing this method for rapid innovation, increased agility, and delivery. For previous Q&As on DevOps, check out:
ó Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation