by Thomas Macaulay

How UK CIOs are using devops

Aug 16, 2019
IT LeadershipIT Strategy

Diana McKenzie – Workday

Diana McKenzie, CIO at Workday, is a proponent of a DevOps methodology.

“We’ve created an operating model where we have platform leaders and we have individuals that face off with our different business functions within the company,” she told CIO UK.

“The way in which we take on work for those platforms is one where we run very much in an Agile environment with scrum teams, and those platform teams are engaged from the point that the requirements are drafted, to the development and ensuring that as we roll those changes through to production, we’re doing that with this notion of continuous integration, continuous delivery.”

Dave Roberts – Radius Payments Solutions

Dave Roberts - Radius Payments Solutions

According to Dave Roberts, CIO at Radius Payments Solutions, the company’s Board of Directors, of which is he is a member, is technologically astute and pro-active about creating an environment that supports innovation from a cultural perspective.

It is no surprise then to some that Roberts is an Agile and DevOps advocate.

“Adopting an agile DevOps methodology of working is important to help deliver results in a timely manner and increase the speed to market for products being developed. Applying DevOps to innovation means that you can provide scalability and improved resilience as you mature and growth your products and services,” he says.

Thierry Bedos – CTO,

Thierry Bedos - CTO, CTO, Thierry Bedos, has embraced DevOps to help consistently improve the customer experience and bring together the teams that build the infrastructure and code the software.

“In the past, once developers had built their software, they would just send it to somebody else and work on the next feature. Now, they really have the accountability end-to-end of how the software is behaving on the infrastructure.” He told CIO UK.

“For us, it’s been a shift of mentality, from a big separation between the different teams to having now these really cross-functional teams where the engineers understand everything from the architecture all the way to how to troubleshoot and monitor software online.”

Richard Orme – Photobox

Richard Orme - Photobox

Photobox Group CTO Richard Orme pioneered a devops approach within his team.

“We moved to a squad model, which was a really big jump for us to make,” he told CIO UK. “The idea of a squad model is a squad of people who have very diverse skill sets, who would traditionally either sit in marketing, or software engineering, or testing, or infrastructure, or security, or commercial and pricing. Now, all working on one goal.”

“All that they are measured on and supported on is, how do you get to the goal?” Orme said. “That is exciting and scary in equal measure, depending on what you’re used to, but I think that creates an environment that allows us to bring the very best talent in.”

Jean-Michel Arès – BMO Financial Group

Jean-Michel Arès - BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group Chief Technology & Operations Officer Jean-Michel Arès, spoke to CIO UK about how new methodologies of working provided the organisation with fuel for revitalisation.

“When we had the smart core and moved to cloud, Agile and DevOps, we built the platform for innovation,” he said.

This mode of working is one of the ways the organisation is future proofing.

“There are many things on the horizon,” Arès said. “What happened in the last 10 years is profound change, and probably more change than the industry had seen in several decades.

“My humble opinion is that the next 5-10 years is going to be even faster, and more profound: it’s a function of the evolution of technology and the number of bright, talented people working on this thing. I think it’s inevitable.”

Alex Farr – Transport Systems Catapult

Alex Farr - Transport Systems Catapult

Transport Systems Catapult IT Director Alex Farr has formed a virtual DevOps team at the innovation centre for intelligent mobility.

The unit was established to remove the problems caused by developers residing in different business units by giving them two hours a week to use DevOps to create a central and secure repository of datasets that is accessible to all stakeholders.

“We have created a virtualDevOpss team within IT,” he told CIO UK. “Across the business we had a number of developers who resided in different business units. The issues I saw were duplication of code, a lack of standards when storing code, and how code was documented.

“I approached the business for additional funding to help each of these developers allocate two hours a week to devops. This helped us address the issues highlighted.”

Luis Uguina – Macquarie Bank

Luis Uguina - Macquarie Bank

Macquarie Bank Chief Digital Officer Luis Uguina combines DevOps to support an approach he calls “doing business at the speed of now”.

Macquarie rolls out new programme increments every three months, as well as weekly updates to the existing systems. The bank monitors the success of each individual process and uses the data to improve the systems.

“We are using DevOps and we are using continuous delivery and continuous deployment technologies,” explains Uguina.

“We are moving all the different software and products and services into open sieve, containers technology to be able to deploy faster and with better control of what we’re doing.”

Rex Cooper – the BMJ

Rex Cooper - the BMJ

The BMJ’s CTO Rex Cooper uses DevOps to release new products and features as quickly as possible to the company’s customers by constantly focusing on the end result for the business.

“We align the product development teams with web operations in a DevOps way of working,” he told CIO UK.

“The product development teams include business colleagues so there is alignment with business goals. We use scrum when we work on our internal back-office systems, bringing modern working practices to that part of the business.

“The technology department drives one of the three strategic themes of the company so alignment is achieved through the company strategy and objectives.”

Adam Gerrard – Yodel

Adam Gerrard - Yodel

Yodel CIO Adam Gerrard uses an agile approach to help his team quickly make changes.

He told CIO UK that he’s “moving towards a DevOps function” that he hopes to support this objective, by combining the service infrastructure and development responsibilities under one role.

Gerrard said that across Yodel there has been buy-in from other departments about the new structures.

“They’ve embraced the change, shall we say,” he said. “They’re working as part of the team. They get to see how we approach things.”

Fin Goulding – Aviva International

Fin Goulding - Aviva International

Aviva International CIO Fin Goulding has been exploring ways of working and cultural transformation in his efforts to modernise a multinational giant in the centuries-old insurance sector.

To find out how DevOps can benefit the business, he regularly attends a Meetup that explores the subject.

“As a CIO you spend a lot of time at the other end of the scale in terms of interacting with business, doing financial analysis, and getting your hands less dirty than you used to do in the past as a technical person,” he told CIO UK.

“I think it’s important that you go out there and do these things. I go to a lot of meetups; there’s an Amazon Web Services one and a blockchain one, a DevOps one and lean agile one I go to. That’s how I learn, I’m constantly learning through those – it’s my profession and that’s the way I look at it.”