Are you on the DevOps train?

Aug 27, 2019, 10:08 AM

DevOps has brought along a new, faster and more consistent way of delivering value and bringing operations and development together. Now it’s mainstream for people and companies. However, success and improvement won’t come overnight. What's the best way to get onboard the DevOps train?


I’m sitting in a metro train. The morning rush hour in Helsinki Metro is quite pleasant. There are no queues on the stations. Trains are pretty full and not everybody gets a seat, but there’s (almost) always place to stand. As a system, it works quite nicely transporting people around the city. When there’s an occasional glitch, maybe a few times a year for me, the system seems to recover quickly. Throughput is good and predictable.

A metro train can fit 708 people, but the rush hour train has typically only about 400 people onboard. Let's guess that 75% are commuters, so that makes it 300 grown ups rushing to their workplaces. In Finland, 7% of all employees are in IT-Industry, but let’s round that to 10% for Helsinki area. This means that there are 30 people working in IT on that train with me, and some of them are inevitably working with DevOps.

I was sitting in the same train already about ten years ago. At that time, DevOps was formulated by some enthusiastic developers with a great mindset, on their endless journey to become better and to get rid of silos, roadblocks, and technical impediments. A new, faster and more consistent way of delivering value and bringing operations and development together, while improving quality, security, and customer experience at the same time. Now it’s mainstream for a lot of people and companies. DevOps is in every train.

Riding the same train, I’ve seen great success and improvement, but that won’t come overnight. Getting started with DevOps can be hard. The excellence and passion of successful teams is not easy to repeat. The mindset and practices do not magically transfer to the next room or department. And the top floor may still be clueless about the DevOps culture. Originally it was not necessarily the business which was driving DevOps. It was more of a grass-root movement.

My experience and insight is from leading DevOps transformation inside R&D organizations and R&D supporting functions, both coaching teams and delivering support infrastructure. I’ve been evangelizing DevOps and driving development of culture, self-service tools, processes, and architecture. I’ve been in the same train with tens of DevOps teams, coaching them to develop team work, quality, software security etc.

After years of getting insight – including countless mistakes and pivots – the learning still goes on and the results continue to be great. DevOps teams are releasing on demand, improving relentlessly. In general it’s predictable and pleasant, much like the Helsinki metro. I haven't heard of anybody who’s seen this work in practice going back to their old ways.

DevOps is a movement and a (loose) set of practices. This naturally helps to keep it healthy, evolving, and real. For those who want to learn more, the State of DevOps report provides a good overall view of DevOps and how it’s practiced.

The SAFe DevOps course collects the DevOps basics, practices, and dos and don’ts into a package that fits enterprises that are doing large scale agile. The course thoroughly handles some of my personal favourite areas such as continuous security and testing. There are familiar discoveries and learnings, including some that I and my organizations have found out by trial and error.

The two day course will bring practical results by designing a Continuous Delivery Pipeline based on participants’ own businesses and own development value streams, complete with an action plan to start leading the change. Technical, non-technical, and leadership positions will definitely benefit from the course.

I’ll be your trainer on the next SAFe DevOps course in December. See you there!



Risto Kumpulainen is an experienced Agile Coach with an edge in R&D practices, processes and tooling. Especially in the areas of Quality, DevOps, Scaled Agile, and Software Security & Privacy.

Risto is a Scrum Master, Product Owner, facilitator, public speaker and punk rocker.

Cover image by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash