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Do Enterprise People Not Care About DevOps? A DevOps Enterprise Summit London Review

June 15th, 2017

I was very fortunate to be able to attend the DevOps Enterprise Summit in London recently. The conference is organised by ITRevolution which is lead by DevOps luminary Gene Kim who has written a number of books and papers about DevOps.

I was struck that there were apparently 650 attendees which I found surprisingly low. If DevOps is the solution to many IT problems I would have thought that it would appeal to more than 650 people. It was hosted in easily accessible London and seemed to attract people from all over Europe in my unscientifically unofficial badge watching and accent analysis.

I can think of two reasons for the seemingly low turnout. First of all this is targeted squarely at the enterprise who are certainly laggards by nature of their size and complexity. Although DevOps is now fairly established practice, enterprise are still wrangling their own inertia and bureaucracy. Enterprises may not yet see the value in sending people to a conference about DevOps, they are happy to spend vast amounts of money on wasting time  in the office doing meaningless work yet a few days at a conference to hear from peers and experts is seen a time away from the office which must be therefore unproductive.. This would be seen as ridiculous in smaller, IT focused companies that have fully embraced “cloud native” where DevOps is obvious and the norm. Enterprises can be very strange.

Secondly, DevOps is very difficult to define and articulate. It could be seen as a term possibly as loosely defined as “cloud”. How many people would see value and attend a “Cloud Enterprise Summit”? I think this is one of the challenges facing the DevOps “movement” for enterprises. It is tough to articulate DevOps and therefore tough to define its value. When you understand what DevOps can bring it seems obvious but when you don’t it can seem nebulous. I’ve heard anecdotally that the DevOpsDays are seen as somewhat insular. Is the DevOps movement itself a barrier to adoption?

One of the things that backed up my observation at the conference is more physical, books. The conference gave out Gene Kim et al’s The Phoenix Project, DevOps Handbook and other books for free at the conference. I had thought people would attend the conference having already read the books and wanting to find out more but a number of people I spoke to had never heard of the books or if they had heard of them hadn’t read them. I found this amazing as The Phoenix Project has been out for more than 4  years and was one of the books that sparked my interest in discovering what is holding back IT.

Attendance numbers aside it seemed the people who were there were very engaged and the presentations were diverse and interesting. Does this mean DevOps is still in its infancy in the enterprise and conference attendees are its early proponents or is DevOps still not getting the attention in enterprises it needs?

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