Tuesday, May 14, 2024

“Our priority? an approach centered on feedback.”

AutomatisationCI/CDCloudCommunication and CollaborationCulture and MethodologyDevelopmentInfrastructureMonitoringSecurity / DevSecOps
“Our priority? an approach centered on feedback.”

Jonathan Clarke, Founder of DEVOPS REX, talks about the genesis of this new edition and the fundamentals of the event in preparation. Read the full interview here!

Why are you relaunching the REX devops event this year?

First and foremost, it's a question of opportunity, particularly because we had to suspend the event during the Covid-19 period, and finding a team afterwards was very difficult. In concrete terms, the opportunity presented by Infopro Digital Trade Shows is a chance we have to seize. What's more, the possibility of co-locating it with OSXP seems very relevant to me, because although not all the exhibitors, sponsors and visitors are necessarily interested in open source, there is an interesting cross-over between the companies offering infra solutions and the visitors, who will often be addressing problems at infrastructure level, which traditionally often use a large number of open source tools. So I'm convinced that these two events can mutually benefit from each other. 

What's more, organising them together would enable them to be sustained and revitalised, which would be very beneficial. In short, the aim is to respond to the stoppage caused by Covid-19 by seizing this opportunity, to rely on an organiser capable of putting it back on its feet for 2024, and finally to take advantage of the synergies with eXPerience open source.

What's more, since the failed 2020 edition, we've seen sustained interest from our sponsors, stakeholders and fervent supporters, or should I say ambassadors, who are clamouring for a repeat of the event. So there is a real demand that we want to meet. We asked ourselves whether it would be sustainable over time, and all the people we consulted were very enthusiastic, which shows that there is a continuing need.

Is this devops methodology still in vogue?

One of the main missions of devops is to optimise the time between the conception of an idea and its production using information technology. Traditionally, this involved a team of developers designing a solution, then passing it on to an operational team for implementation, but often not immediately. This created problems, required a lot of back and forth, and in the end, the developers tried to avoid these pitfalls.

The idea of devops is therefore to get all these parties working together in the same chain, in a more fluid and efficient way, with better communication and collaboration, in order to optimise the company's value and accelerate time to market, i.e. the time between the idea and its realisation on the market. This will always be a major concern for business leaders. 

Many companies are currently looking at the issue of transforming their processes, i.e. how to move from a compartmentalised organisation to teams interacting again, even if they are not on the same premises, or even in the same country. This is also a crucial challenge in terms of remaining competitive and attracting talent. Recruiting someone who doesn't understand the importance of collaboration and devops can be difficult, even discouraging for the candidate. If a company chooses not to follow this trend, it risks falling behind.

Has Covid-19 contributed to the development of devops in companies?

This is a major challenge, because one of the main aspirations of devops was to encourage communication between individuals. Historically, this has been about bringing together people with similar jobs, but working in separate silos. Traditional methods of encouraging this interaction often involved face-to-face meetings, such as sharing a pizza at lunchtime. However, with the move to teleworking and travel restrictions, these practices have become more complex. This has necessitated adaptations, increased structuring and more rigorous management to encourage collaboration, even at a distance. The technological changes brought about by Covid-19 have also had a significant impact. For example, the rise of click and collect for online retailers, contactless delivery and the growth of online conferences have all necessitated urgent technological developments, closely linked to devops, because they always involve the same players working together to deploy new functionalities. Although the fundamentals of devops have not changed radically, the technological and operational context is constantly evolving.
Today, cybersecurity, in all its forms, is at the heart of concerns, with particular attention paid to reactions in the event of a threat or attack and to reducing attack surfaces right from the initial development phase. In addition, artificial intelligence is increasingly present, and its implications are likely to reshape working methods in the devops field. So the main challenges ahead lie in continuing the transformation in the face of teleworking, enhanced security, and the emergence of artificial intelligence in this area.

In terms of programme themes, what subjects do you think are essential?

Safety, for sure. It's essential to have a day dedicated to security. Then I think it's important to cover teleworking and AI. But we should try to have at least two conferences on each of these subjects, to really delve into the content. Because these subjects are inescapable, we can't ignore them as if they didn't exist. The teleworking dimension is particularly interesting, especially in terms of feedback. We haven't had a conference on this subject since before the Covid period, which seems to me to be a gap. It's essential to share what's been done, because there hasn't been much sharing of experience during the online conferences organised in 2021, 2022 and 2023. I think there are a lot of good ideas that have been locked away in boxes and not yet shared.

What synergy do you see with OSXP? Why organise devops REX in parallel?

The synergy with OSXP lies, in my opinion, in the fact that there is a mutual interest between the two events.Why is that?Because open source has always played an important role in all layers of infrastructure.Even if we find open source at all levels of IT today, its historical origins go back to the foundations of IT, particularly at the level of operating systems, day-to-day tools, and deployment and testing solutions, which are at the heart of devops concerns.

What are the strengths of the event that you will be retaining and what changes will you be making to the event?

The strengths of the event that we're going to keep are our approach based on feedback. Our aim is that each speaker on stage should have lived through or implemented a transition and be able to share their experience.We're focusing on real stories, real practices, including both successes and failures, because that's where the best lessons are to be shared.We will also be maintaining a rich and varied programme of conferences, covering topics ranging from security to development, including the human and technical dimensions, as well as the use of tools.We'll be continuing to liven up the stage to make the day interactive and rewarding, encouraging exchanges between participants and the creation of new contacts. Our aim is to unite the community and create a forum for exchanging and sharing experiences.

In terms of developments, we will be moving to a more professional organisation by working with a company specialising in event management. The venue for the event will be the emblematic Palais des Congrès. We will also be changing the format by offering two separate days, with a single theme running in parallel on each day. One day will be dedicated to general issues and new developments, while the other will focus more on security and emerging trends in this area.In addition, we will be restructuring our team by setting up an official programme committee, made up of various professionals and representatives from different communities, to ensure that the areas covered at the conference are more representative.