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DevOps Is Just the Beginning Of A Transformation Toward Scale, Reliability, and Consistency


Guest: Narayanan Raghavan (LinkedIn)
Company: Red Hat (Twitter)

Red Hat provides open-source software products to enterprises. In this episode of TFiR: T3M, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Narayanan Raghavan, Senior Director, Site Reliability Engineering at Red Hat, to discuss platform engineering and where it fits in with SRE and DevOps. He goes on to talk about the importance of fostering a positive company culture and shares his advice on what companies should be considering.

Cultural evolution toward platform engineering:

  • A common theme across DevOps, SRE, and platform engineering is culture. The success of any of these methodologies is dependent on having the right culture in place. Failures will happen and having a blameless culture is important, seeing it as an opportunity to learn.
  • Communication is key for DevOps, SRE, and platform engineering when things fail, as it dictates the speed at which you can regroup, decide on a path, move forward, and make changes. However, this varies depending on the maturity level of the company, the company’s lifecycle, and the size of the company.

Defining platform engineering, SRE, and DevOps:

  • Platform engineering centers around the speed and consistency for rapid application development using software component microservices that are common across all the development teams. This allows development teams to focus on business logic.
  • SRE focuses on the reliability, scalability, performance, and security of the entire fleet.
  • DevOps aims to break down silos between the development and operations teams to enable them to work together well. This helps them focus on the speed and continuity of all the application lifecycle itself.
  • Software engineering and soft skills like communication are required by all three methodologies; systems engineering skills are required by SREs and platform engineers; however, only SREs will need crisis management skills, and platform engineering in particular requires product management skills.

Is DevOps Dead?

  • No, DevOps is just the beginning of a transformation toward scale, reliability, and consistency. The journey also involves building blocks that can be applied consistently to all the development teams, utilizing automation and self-service.
  • Once companies mature to a certain point they will consider if there is a need for SREs or platform engineers to ensure consistent platform development tools, particularly as the criticality of your application increases from a business perspective.

Defining developer experience and how it relates to platform engineering:

  • Platform engineering helps facilitate developer experience by focusing on a set of building blocks that all developers in the organization can rely on.

Advice for companies:

  • Relabelling people does not automatically instill new skills, be it SRE or platform engineering skills. However, tools, processes, and people skills can help to upskill people.
  • The principles you have within the team and company culture are crucial to the health of a team. If you are fostering innovation, then part of that is going to be letting people fail and coming out the other side of that.
  • Consistency is key since you do not have siloed knowledge, as well as, the right training for both soft and hard skills for people. It is important to invest in people and identify people who have the potential to step into a DevOps, SRE, or platform engineering role.

This summary was written by Emily Nicholls.