The DevOps revolution has resulted in a myriad of benefits for ITV, as Head of Common Platform, Tom Clark explains to John Bensalhia…

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Tom Clark ITVTom spent 15 years working with technology across a number of sectors, from manufacturing with Jaguar Cars to media with the BBC, Global Radio and most recently ITV. “During this time I’ve held senior/lead positions in several disciplines, including platform engineering, development and architecture. Now as Head of Common Platform at ITV, I’m responsible for growing the hosting platform that underpins all of our key applications. I’ll always be engineer, but now my day job is managing and developing the “smart and kind” people that build, maintain and evolve the platform.”

Tom will provide a first-hand account of the recent DevOps revolution at ITV. “My session will take you through the history of DevOps at ITV, from its beginning as a grass-roots movement to today where it’s the foundation of a multi-million pound modernisation programme. It then goes through our guiding principles, and explains in detail how we apply them to our people, process, and technology.”

The benefits of the DevOps teams for ITV are many – in particular, the quantity and the speed of its modernisation programme. “I can say with confidence that we wouldn’t be able to deliver the amount and rate of change that our modernisation programme requires if we hadn’t adopted DevOps/Product teams,” says Tom. “These teams have all of the necessary skills (Product Owner, Delivery Manager, Developer, Tester, Platform Engineer, etc) in one place, and are given full responsibility of their product end-to-end: you build it, you run it. This allows the teams to move as quickly as they want to, generally unconstrained by external factors. Quality (in terms of MTBF, MTTR, bugs, etc) is also up, as the feedback loop is much shorter, and everyone has visibility of (and responsibility for) their production environment.”

With respect to the cost of DevOps, Tom comments: “By some naïve measures, a DevOps/Product team approach can appear more expensive.”

“The traditional approach of functional silos with a work queue can appear more efficient at the micro level, but at the macro level it’s a terrible way to deliver software, as each of those queues represents delay, and delays cost money. In the past we used to wait four to six weeks for a single VM, which wasn’t a problem when we were waterfall, but was fatal when we were trying to be agile. Through DevOps (and its associated benefits like automation) we can now build entire virtual data centres in minutes, allowing us to be agile and deliver more with less.”

Looking ahead for both DevOps at ITV and in general for other businesses, Tom concludes that: “The future’s very bright.”

“Thanks to the great success we’ve had with DevOps and our internally-developed applications, we’re now taking it into the enterprise space by expanding the Common Platform to encompass Windows and COTS applications. This is an area that’s historically been built and managed by hand, so we believe that we can improve quality and reduce TCO by applying the Common Platform principles of automation and standardisation.”

“I suspect many other organisations will be thinking about doing the same thing. The benefits are clear, but it can be a daunting proposition!”

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