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How Spinnaker Enables a Successful Cultural Shift to DevOps

“Business as usual is no longer enough to remain competitive.”

– From page 3 in “Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations”

I recently sat down with Andy Glover, the Director of Delivery Engineering at Netflix, at a recent Insight IGNITE event to talk to him about Spinnaker, how it helps Netflix out-innovate its competition, why Netflix and Google open-sourced Spinnaker, and how Spinnaker enables a successful shift to a strong DevOps culture:

In this video, Andy & DROdio discuss:

  • How Spinnaker solves for software delivery safety and reliability to facilitate innovation
  • Context over control: How Spinnaker is centralized tooling – but not mandated within the organization, which forces the central team to build a valuable platform
  • How Spinnaker takes a plugin approach to giving all teams the same access to tooling like Automated Canary Analysis
  • How JP Morgan Chase is using Spinnaker to provide a “golden, paved road” to all of its developers
  • How Spinnaker has a growing community providing innovation that’s then being consumed by Netflix
  • How Spinnaker enables teams to be more effective in their work

How Spinnaker Enables the DevOps Movement:

Spinnaker is a software delivery and infrastructure management platform that codifies the elements of a successful DevOps culture, and scales them across an organization.

The State of DevOps 2019 Report, which Armory sponsored (you can watch the webinar on-demand), reinforces many of Andy’s points through six years of research and data from over 31,000 professionals worldwide.

A slide from the DORA Report showing how Elite Performers compare to other companies

The book Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations outlines concrete steps companies can take to transform themselves into Elite Performers. Here are some the most relevant quotes from that book that support Andy’s examples and the philosophies behind Spinnaker:

  • Reducing batch size is another central element of the Lean paradigm--indeed, it was one of the keys to the success of the Toyota production system." – Page 16
  • "Do change management boards actually improve delivery performance?" (Spoiler alert: they do not; they are negatively correlated with tempo and stability.)Our ability to measure and reason about practices, culture, and outcomes is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to great positive effect in the pursuit of ever higher performanc.As Deming said, 'whenever there is fear, you get the wrong numbers'" (Humble et al. 2014, p.56)"– Page 56
  • Continuous delivery is a set of capabilities that enable us to get changes of all kinds--features, configuration changes, bug fixes, experiments--into production or into the hands of users safely, quickly, and sustainably.Build quality in.Work in small batches."– Page 42
  • "Furthermore, continuous delivery predicts lower levels of unplanned work and rework in a statistically significant way." – Page 51
  • "We discovered that low performers were more likely to say that the software they were building--or the set of services they had to interact with--was custom software developed by another company (e.g., an outsourcing partner).– Page 60
  • "In teams which scored highly on architectural capabilities, little communication is required between delivery teams to get their work done, and the architecture of the system is designed to enable teams to test, deploy, and change their systems without dependencies on other teams. In other words, architecture and teams are loosely coupled. – Page 63
  • "The key to working in small batches is to have work decomposed into features that allow for rapid development, instead of complex features developed on branches and released infrequently. This idea can be applied at both the feature and the product level.
    In software organizations, the capability to work and deliver in small batches is especially important because it allows you to gather user feedback quickly using techniques such as A/B testing. It's worth noting that an experimental approach to product development is highly correlated with the technical practices that contribute to continuous delivery." – Page 85
  • "If your teams have no visibility into code deployments--that is, if you ask your teams what software deployments are like and the answer is, "I don't know... I've never thought about it!"--that's another warning that software delivery performance could be low..."
  • "Effective management practices combined with technical approaches, such as continuous delivery, don't just impact performance, they also have a measurable effect on organizational culture" – Page 105
  • "High-performing teams reported having leaders with the strongest behaviors across all dimensions: vision, inspirational communication, intellectual stimulation, supportive leadership, and personal recognition." – Page 119
  • "Why we must improve the way we lead and manage IT and, indeed, reimagine the way everyone across the enterprise views and engages with technology. We are in the midst of a complete transformation in the way value is created, delivered, and consumed. Our ability to rapidly and effectively envision, develop, and deliver technology-related value to enhance the customer experience is becoming a key competitive differentiator." – Page 182
  • We are often asked by enterprise leaders, How do we change our culture?We believe the better questions to ask are: How do we learn how to learn? How do I learn? How can I make it safe for others to learn? How can I learn from and with them? How do we, together, establish new behaviors and new ways of thinking that build new habits, that cultivate our new culture? And where do we start?"

Lastly, as A.J. Lang, the CTO of JP Morgan Chase, recently said:

“Increasing the velocity of our software delivery lifecycle is what enables development teams to iterate faster and, in turn, increase our output of innovative products and services for our customers and clients.”

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