Security firm G4S is moving to a DevOps software development model, but the real cultural challenge will be for the business rather than IT staff, according to group CIO Nick Folkes.
"In my experience of agile and DevOps approaches, they're generally not an issue for an IT audience. The challenge is more in taking the business with you," he said.
"Our businesses are traditional, and we've run IT in a certain way for many years, so the concept of agile, where you work in sprints rather than a waterfall, is quite alien for the business, I think."
The DevOps model, in which traditional software development and operational teams are combined, is increasingly popular with businesses, despite some scepticism about changing roles among staff.
Folkes explained that the solution to selling the concept lies in maintaining a close relationship with business colleagues to ensure they understand how and why processes are changing.
"It takes a lot of engagement with colleagues in the business to help them understand that agile is an iterative approach to how we build capability," he said.
"DevOps is about developing things in an agile way. The business needs to understand that the process is now iterative, and has moved away from things like sitting down at the beginning to work on the design for six months."
But this change will be a simpler one for IT staff, according to Folkes, as it's simply a "technical shift" for them.
"I don't think it's an alien concept for IT. It's a technical shift rather than cultural change for them," he said.
However, some firms have admitted problems in retaining IT staff when making such a cultural shift.
Stephen Lowe, director of technology at Paddy Power Betfair, recently told V3's sister site Computing about an engineer who spent six years becoming Cisco certified only to be told he now needed to write code instead.
Explaining why the move to DevOps needs to happen, Folkes said that the intention is to increase the speed of the business.
"The business wants things faster, and they want a lower time to market. Who doesn't? This is just a good way of doing that. Businesses want outcomes, and this is how we choose to deliver them," he said.
Folkes explained that moving to DevOps will involve hiring new staff to fill certain roles, but won't necessarily involve large numbers of redundancies.
"I'm sure there'll be some people left behind, but I don't think that would be a majority of staff. I think most people are in IT because they like IT, and everyone accepts that technology moves on or we'd all be sitting around with punch cards and mainframes," he said.
"This is just the latest in a long line of changes in our industry. We got over the client server change, so I don't anticipate any cultural rejection of DevOps in IT."
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