One of the wonderful things about technology is how it’s continually building upon existing concepts. While evolution and innovation are what we are all striving for, those do present their own set of challenges – one of which is ensuring that skill sets keep pace with disruptive technologies.
A disruptive force today is the growth of cloud computing. For this article I’d like to discuss not only the challenges we face because of this, but the opportunities as well.
At IBM, we helped create an industry movement that enabled developers to work quickly when building applications and services. One way to do this is to remove the singular focus on infrastructure and/or applications, and to implement a DevOps methodology that relies on rapid deployment, continuous integration/monitoring and greater reliance on automation.
Markets demand the ability to move quickly to not only develop these applications and services, but also to have the flexibility to scale and connect them with any system or partner they want.
When I speak to customers and partners, one of the most common things I’m hearing is that, one size does not fit all and they want to develop on and move data between multiple clouds and systems, regardless of vendor.
This has given birth to the hybrid cloud age, and it brings us to a very interesting moment in time. The deployment and use of different clouds and services to meet the needs of any given workload, and the ability to interoperate seamlessly with your existing infrastructure is now paramount.
Why Hertz made it happen
Take for example Hertz. Earlier this year, its vice president for Global IT Architecture, John LaFreniere, spoke at the InterConnect conference about his team’s experience with this type of change. “We are in the midst of a massive transformation of our core technologies,” he said. “And it’s this transformation that’s effectively pulling us to cloud and to DevOps.”
Hertz has overhauled its processes, platforms and business models, assigning half of the IT team to manage existing IT, and the other half to bring new technologies into the fold. As we advise our clients, Hertz had to infuse existing processes with new ones, as it started on the journey to balance agile and waterfall methodologies.
A crawl, walk, run, sprint approach, with traditional test and deploy checkpoints is how we are working with Hertz and other enterprises to implement and embrace an agile methodology.
During his talk at InterConnect, LaFreniere said something else that struck a chord with the audience: “Business transformation and IT transformation have to happen simultaneously if either is going to succeed.”
A huge part of that transformation is having the right people in place to make it happen – and while it’s exciting to see hybrid become the fastest-growing segment of the cloud market, it has uncovered the fact that technology is outpacing skill sets.
A 2016 Cloud Foundry study revealed that most companies (64 percent) are experiencing a shortage of developers, and 57 percent say that the shortage has impacted their ability to hire skilled developers. The study also revealed that the majority of organizations (62 percent) prefer to train existing employees.
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This creates a shift in the way companies are building liquid business processes and how they’re giving developers the opportunity to reimagine the way they innovate and go to market.
In my experience, a hybrid environment requires polyglot, mobile-first developers who are comfortable working at the speed of IT, for whom continuous delivery, continuous integration and test-driven development are everyday activities.
So, the question then becomes how do we bridge the skill set divide?
Staff up, skill up
At IBM, we restructured our development organizations around squads, tribes and guilds in a way that supports a DevOps focused workflow. We began by implementing a culture that starts with design thinking and gives developers the freedom to be creative and collaborative.
When we took these techniques and scaled to the enterprise, we found that when you provide options that are attractive to different types of developers, and make available the tools that support DevOps methodology, that’s when you start to bridge the skills gap.
Tying it together
What I am seeing first hand is that a DevOps tooling method sets the foundation that will support a transition to hybrid cloud at every turn. It also gives your current and future developers the tools they need to update their skill sets and keep pace with an ever-changing technology landscape.
I have found that a DevOps-focused approach reinforces positive behavior that already exists in your organization, and it creates the type of environment that is attractive to people who possess the skill set and mind frame needed to stay innovative and competitive.
But in addition to the right people, in order to make this happen, you need a platform, and the right (open source) technologies that meet the unique needs of your business. When these things align, you’ll find that the skill set challenge has not only been met, but it has been turned into a unique opportunity to grow your business through innovation.