With 40% of DevOps adopters describing their organisation as “digital” and 56% saying they are moving in that direction, Computing magazine’s recent survey shows that people are making the connection between a DevOps mindset and a successful Digital business. There are differing opinions however, about how the two connect.

The start-ups causing digital disruption across all industry sectors usually work in a DevOps way as a matter of course. For larger enterprises DevOps does not come naturally and it requires a significant change in culture, processes and tools to digitally transform, innovate and compete. So, is DevOps the end-goal? Is it a by-product of going Digital and abolishing or integrating legacy systems and outmoded processes? Or is DevOps the critical enabler for successful Digital Transformation?

Best Practice?

As the concept of going digital has matured, successful Digital Transformation has become a top down initiative, driven by a digital vision created by C-level executives, in response to the needs of the wider business. Spanish bank BBVA clearly illustrated this last year when they chose their then current Head of Digital Banking to be their new President and Chief Operating Officer and closed their digital banking unit because digital is now an integral part of every aspect of their operations.

According to a senior government DevOps engineer taking part in the Computing survey “You don’t need DevOps to be digital, but if you move to digital for your end users, you will move faster if you are Agile. You need to be Agile to be efficient in digital… and to be Agile, it makes sense to be DevOps…” So, from this perspective DevOps is a best practice that should be adopted on the Digital Transformation journey.

The recent State of DevOps Report by Puppet demonstrates that organisations that create a dynamic DevOps environment deploy 200 times more frequently and with 24 times faster recovery times than those that are not working in a DevOps way. Furthermore employees in high-performance DevOps teams are 2.2 times more likely to state that they have job satisfaction and a great company culture. In short, DevOps will enable you to automate and streamline so that your development, operations and testing teams are innovating like a lean, nimble start up. These stats are a strong indication that DevOps is more than just a best practice or a nice-to-have in the race to digitalisation.

The Key to Innovation

As we saw in my previous post in this series Agile and DevOps have been a major focus for the senior management at Barclays Bank. And according to Jonathan Smart, Head of Development Services, this top down approach has been critical to success.

At Barclays’ top-down DevOps adoption worked well, but for many businesses undergoing a Digital Transformation DevOps is initially adopted by teams working on a single project that readily lends itself to increased automation and close collaboration between cross-functional teams. This can be as a result of an executive strategy, wanting to get it right in one team and replicate across the enterprise. It can also be a bottom up strategy driven by the Development or Operations team or as a result of the introduction of bi-modal IT. Once DevOps has been successfully adopted for one project and the positive impact on quality, speed and customer experience is recognised, it’s essential to get executive level support for it to be successfully rolled out throughout the rest of the enterprise. Only then can you achieve the necessary cultural shift, automated tooling, streamlined processes and new organisational style.

Superior Business Outcomes

So the inklings of a DevOps mindset can come about as a by-product of the Digital journey or it can be consciously adopted as part of a top-down initiative aligned to the wider business strategy. Regardless of how DevOps begins in your organisation, the automation, continuous integration, and continuous delivery that it enables are the cornerstones of digital innovation, speed and cost effectiveness. This makes DevOps a critical enabler and accelerator of Digital Transformation and the key to market-leading business outcomes.

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Posted in: Agile, Behaviour Driven Development, Business Intelligence, DevOps, Digital, Digital strategy, Innovation, IT strategy, Transformation      
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In my previous post on DevOps “The Race for Dev Ops – Strategy, not Beer and Pizza?” I looked at how Financial Services institutions can fast track to innovation by creating a DevOps strategy that encompasses the key areas of People, Process and Technology. In this next blog, I want to take a look at how Barclays have made a very successful transition to a DevOps culture with a more Agile way of working, and I’ll reflect on the 10 ways that other financial institutions can model their success.

Uber Moments

Mobile only banks, Apple, Google and Samsung pay and nimble FinTech startups are putting huge competitive pressure on incumbent banks to up their customer engagement game and innovate at scale and speed. This disruption is the manifestation of the “Uber moments” for financial services predicted by formed Barclays boss Anthony Jenkins and reported by Reuters last year. When Barclays start talking about innovation, agile and DevOps, other financial institutions should sit up and listen. Barclays’ Digital Transformation journey has been a big success that has seen them not only catch up with nimble FinTechs, but also take the lead in innovation in the FS sector with services such as bPay contactless payment wristbands.

On 2nd November speaking at DevOps World in London, Barclays’ Head of Development Services Jonathan Smart, called their current project the “world’s largest and fastest agile adoption”. Since adopting Agile and DevOps, Barclays has increased throughput by a factor of 3 and significantly reduced the complexity of their code and the number of production incidents. Barclays processes payments equal to an impressive 30% of the UK’s gross domestic product every day and the secret to success here is, Smart says, DevOps: “It’s a better way of working. We don’t need survival anxiety to show it is a better way of working. We know it reduces risk – delivery risk – and we know it increases quality”.  So, let’s take a leaf out of the Barclays DevOps playbook and look at the top 10 secrets to their success that other organisations in the finance sector can emulate.

Top 10 Secrets to DevOps Success

1) Strategically speaking financial institutions need to focus on their own specific business drivers for Digital Transformation; delivering better software cheaper and faster, diversifying into new markets and innovating ahead of the competition.

2) Win over C-level executives and employees enterprise wide by successfully adopting DevOps for one project then as confidence grows and the processes and culture are accepted roll it out further.

3) Rewarding success and avoiding a blame culture is essential to DevOps success and actually FS organisations lend themselves well to this type of culture as generally if things go wrong there is so much at stake that the different teams tend to pull together to fix it fast.

4) Moving to cross-functional teams and introducing automation where it is most needed and likely to succeed are the cornerstones to success.

5) After training, enabling your teams to work autonomously with a self-service capability to provision their own architecture and develop tooling frameworks is essential.

6) A bottom up approach is best for both better code and the flow of innovation, so enable developers to use trusted and proven opensource APIs and take advantage of containerisation for standardisation and efficiency in any environment.

7) Don’t be tempted to centralise or you will end up with your DevOps team itself operating in a silo, which is fatal. Instead create a DevOps team for each line of business, for example retail banking, credit and investment banking.

8) Remember that your ultimate goal is continuous integration and continuous delivery.

9) Make use of the cloud to create test environments that closely match production, accessible on demand and easy to scale up or down.

10) Abolish the stress and risk of big releases and break apps down into manageable microservices to be developed, tested and deployed individually. Create an automated framework that is right for your specific business and audit regularly to ensure ongoing efficiency.

In my next blog on DevOps I will look at the connection between DevOps and Digital Transformation. Is it the end-goal, a mere by-product or an essential Digital Enabler?


Posted in: Agile, Automation Testing, Behaviour Driven Development, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, communication, DevOps, Digital, Digital strategy, Human Interaction Testing, Innovation, IT strategy, mobile applications, mobile testing, Open Innovation, Testing and innovation      
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FS veteran and DevOps expert Ben Wootton said in his recent presentation Fighting the Fintech Wave with DevOps, “you can’t turn around a 10,000 person FS organisation with beer and pizza”! So how do you migrate your organisation into the world of DevOps’, and do you need to?

The idea that Financial Services are not ready for or capable of adopting DevOps to innovate on a par with the FinTechs is outmoded; survival depends on a change of attitude. For some, it may be worth considering forming an alliance to form the killer combination of the gravitas and reliability of the FS organisation with the speed to market and heightened customer engagement of the FinTech partner. However, in the highly regulated, risk-averse world of FS, a more solid, strategic, step by step approach will go down better with C level executives and yield better results.

How FS Can Fast Track to Innovation?

And what are the keys to successful DevOps adoption in the FS sector? If we look at the triangle of People, Process and Technology, we can start to break down the key criteria for DevOps adoption:


1. What business value are you trying to create from implementing DevOps?

2. The correct culture is the absolute key driver to enable DevOps within any organisation. You need to ensure that the whole organisation, from Executives down buy in to the DevOps journey.


3. Remember that your ultimate goal should be continuous integration and continuous delivery. Teams must be decentralised, autonomous and cross functional.

4. To abolish the risk and associated stress of big releases, you need to break applications down into manageable microservices to be developed, tested and deployed individually.


5. Technology should not be the central pillar, instead it should be considered an advantageous tool to enable the DevOps journey. For example, utilising a cloud based API layer to enable service virtualisation deployment will help you to complete your development and test cycles faster and more efficiently.

A shining example of successful Continuous Delivery is the London Multi-Asset Exchange (LMAX). Using Agile best practice they rebuilt their systems from scratch, implementing test driven development, pair programming and continuous integration. They made a huge investment in automation and now each build is subject to 25,000 automatic unit tests and then 10,000 integration, acceptance and performance tests. Impressively, in excess of 24 hours’ worth of QA and testing processes are executed in parallel in under an hour!

Always remember that “you can’t turn around a 10,000 person FS organisation with beer and pizza” so instead, strategise and save the celebrations for when you are working in a more collaborative, agile, and innovative DevOps way!


Posted in: Automation Testing, Behaviour Driven Development, Business Intelligence, Cloud, Collaboration, communication, Developers, DevOps, Human Behaviour, Innovation, IT strategy, Shift Left, Test Automation      
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Recently, I read in the news that Facebook declared many users dead, including the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a massive memorial ‘remembering’ profile bug.

When logged onto their accounts, Facebook users would come across a “memorialised account” informing people who visited their profile that they are dead – but they were alive, of course!

What a bug!

Posted on Mark Zuckerberg’s profile, there was a statement saying: “We hope people who love Mark will find comfort in the things others share to remember and celebrate his life.”

Facebook’s explanation

Later the same day, Facebook representatives explained what had happened by issuing the following statement: “For a brief period today, a message meant for memorialized profiles was mistakenly posted to other accounts. This was a terrible error that we have now fixed. We are very sorry that this happened and we worked as quickly as possible to fix it.”

Facebook characterised the bug as “terrible” but they didn’t explain why it happened. Could it have been a hack attack?

Are all bugs important?

…this is a good question, there are bugs which are more important than others. There are bugs that if you notice them at the development phase means that they will cost nothing (or just a little) to be fixed, however if found after deployment then they may cost a lot of money. The one thing that is certain though is that every working software should have no defects when being deployed.

What did this bug cost for Facebook? Maybe just a bit of embarrassment this time but was it a critical bug to find quickly? Well, many people had to call their relatives and confirm they were not dead, so of course! Moreover, if my grandma had looked at my Facebook profile and it said I had passed away, that could cause enough stress to make her really ill. Luckily, my grandma doesn’t have a Facebook account (and my profile wasn’t affected by the bug)! Therefore something like this should be tested thoroughly before going live.

We must always be thinking about how we treat our bugs, how thoroughly we should look for defects in software testing and when this testing should start/ at which phase of the SDLC.

I think the right answer here is that testing should start as soon as possible and we are all responsible for that.

Anthoula Poniraki AUTHOR:
Anthoula is an IT consultant at Sogeti UK who has been involved in automation testing, test analysis, scripting and test script enhancement. Anthoula is also part of the DevOps support team with a focus on facilitating DevOps delivery.

Posted in: A testers viewpoint, Business Intelligence, Fighting Layout Bugs, IT strategy, Risk, Technical Testing, Test environment, Test Plans, Testing and innovation      
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Since the advent of digital revolution and adoption of more agile methodologies and principles for execution of IT projects, the role of an Enterprise Architecture and its effectiveness has come under a cloud of questions. Over the last couple of years, though, enterprises have realized that the Enterprise Architect (EA) role has in fact become more critical and relevant than before.

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Let me set the content here. PwC’s 2015 Global Digital IQ®+ Survey reveals some startling data points. In 2015 itself more than 68% of IT spending came from budgets outside of  IT, a significant increase from 47% the prior year. As a result, we see that technology investments are no longer the sole domain of the CIO. The CEO, CMO, CDO are some prominent roles that claim a significant stake to the IT budget; thus resulting in a fragmented digital enterprise and hence require someone who has an ability to tie in various threads together to create a common view. This is where an Enterprise Architect/s is the one best positioned to take the reins in his own hands and use his experience to develop the to-be digital blueprint. He is the one who can ensure a synergy in the investments and efforts of various teams, to drive towards the enterprise goal and eventually the vision.

To elaborate this point further, let us look at a few keys changes that digital transformation has brought along with it.

  • Traditionally an Enterprise Architect has been viewed as the techie guy doing complex IT things which requires a lot of money and time to implement and because of this perception, he has to make a lot of noise to get the attention of senior management. The Digital Enterprise theme finds a prominent place in agenda of boardroom discussion and hence the direct involvement of CEO, CMO and in some organizations a dedicated CDO position. The challenge for these roles has been to ensure the convergence of various tactical and short term decisions towards the enterprises’ strategic goals & objectives. This provides a golden opportunity for architects to get into more commanding position and get to work the way they always wanted to.
  • Agile way of work is the talk of the town and it goes hand in hand with Digital transformation journey. A pragmatic and at the same time an effective architecture governance will play a very important role to ensure the architecture blueprint is a living artifact with well-defined transition architectures for at least every 6-month milestones.
  • The much talked about Design Thinking approach has a bigger influence on developing digital solutions with two of its principle “Empathy” and “Feedback” has made a striking mark on building new business services. These principles can be easily adopted when developing each of the architecture domains and the “Prototyping” principles can be effectively used to develop various architecture “Views” for identified key stakeholders. This will help in demonstrating how various aspects of the architect blueprint & the decisions behind them, bring value to its key consumer personas.
  • It is widely seen that large and mid-size established organizations have found it the toughest to digitalize their services. Their rigid and undocumented legacy landscape has been the main hurdle to slow the speed of digital adoption. While the various cloud and virtualization deployment models have provided some respite to bring down the cost of IT ownership, it still is a problem when it comes to reducing time to market of new services. EAs will play a key role on behalf of the IT departments to build a phased approach based on pragmatic solutions and going hand in hand with the digital roadmap.

Having said this, there are areas where the EAs need to work to influence the business community that they are right folks to lead this digital journey. Below I list down some keys of those aspects that an enterprise architect should focus on developing as part of his profile.

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  • EA should be able to drive innovation and collaborate with key stakeholders in the enterprise to identify and develop new business capabilities and technology capabilities.
  • EA needs to be more hands-on and one who does not fear to lead the digital transformation of the enterprise. He needs to utilize his experience with tried and tested tradition Enterprise Architecture frameworks, like TOGAF, and adapt them to the changing market expectations and pace.
  • EAs should develop and maintain tools and frameworks which work as enablers and add the required meat to make effective use of EA frameworks like TOGAF to develop the to-be enterprise blue print.
  • Since it is not always possible for EAs to be an expert on every technology out there, they should groom and guide Business & Technology communities and encourage them for involvement in various open source and digital technology forums with an endeavor to participate in the ecosystem to adopt these technologies. This way enterprise architects can ensure that they are well connected to technology SMEs and have a good handle on technology innovations.

Source: The blog was originally posted here.

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Posted in: A testers viewpoint, Agile, Digital, Digital strategy, Innovation, IT strategy, Open Innovation, Technology Outlook, Test Driven Development, Test Methodologies, Testing and innovation, Transformation      
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