The Transformers

by Rachel Obstler May 16, 2017 | 3 min read

I recently had the privilege of spending a full day with a small group of our customers. The attendees were leaders in their development and IT operations organizations and spanned a wide variety of industries, including technology, media, finance, retail, healthcare, and more. Every single one of them are recognized leaders in their spaces. One of the questions we asked our customers was, “do you have any specific transformation programs underway or planned?” And indeed, most customers had a story of their transformation journey.

Transitioning to Cloud

The largest and most established companies talked about transitioning to the public cloud — and for these companies, in particular, it’s no easy task. Some have industry regulations to contend with, while others are faced with years of traditional IT processes, rules, and habits to change. Their transition will be painful, potentially with multiple years of an in-between hybrid state with cloud applications that depend on applications still running on internal infrastructure, and vice versa.  

The Role of Central Operations

Others talked about the modernization or automation of the NOC and central operations functions. These plans ranged from ensuring the NOC could add value to independent DevOps teams sprouting up across the organization, to fully transforming the role of operations to providing the platform that enables developers to not just write but also operate their code in production.

Monoliths to Microservices

Refactoring code from monoliths to microservices was another theme. These were typically companies already in the cloud, purpose built for SaaS, but with code origins from more than five years ago, before cloud, containers, or deployment automation were established technologies. Some of them had already gone through significant transformations — or were what are commonly called, “digital natives”, or born in the cloud — fully utilizing DevOps best practices that many had adapted and improved for their own purposes.

Digital Operations Transformation

While these customers have varied situations and different plans, they are all focused on improving agility to support greater innovation in their customer-facing digital services. There is no great surprise that the IT industry is undergoing tremendous change at a rapid pace, and these companies are all adapting accordingly. They are moving to a developer ownership model and adopting DevOps practices because they believe (as do we) that this is the best way to both ensure high quality customer experiences and maximize innovation.

Another common element across all of these transformation stories stood out: it not only takes the right tools to support digital operations transformation, but also the right culture of collaboration, knowledge sharing, learning, and improving. Tools by themselves can’t change a culture, but they can support and promote a culture of learning and improving. One of our customers alluded to his transformation as a “hearts and minds” effort as much as anything else. This sentiment was perhaps said most succinctly in Bridge Kromhout’s post, “Containers Can’t Fix Your Broken Culture.”

Our goal at PagerDuty is to build product that helps customers implement best practices used by thousands of the most operationally mature teams, such as enabling individual teams to operate autonomously while ensuring consistency with well-defined processes around major incident response. We look forward to supporting and accelerating our customers’ transformation efforts by making it easier than ever to adopt modern incident management and DevOps practices.