DevOps Dreamin' 2023 Summary Cover image

DevOps Dreamin’ London 2023: Summary

This past week, Gearset sponsored DevOps Dreamin’ in London. The conference was full of insights from various members of the community sharing their experiences. Whether you attended in person, participated virtually like me, or missed the event, here’s a recap of the key themes.

What is DevOps Dreamin'?

DevOps Dreamin’ is a community event dedicated to DevOps in the Salesforce ecosystem. Following its debut in 2022, DevOps Dreamin’ seeks to inspire and educate. No matter your role, if you want to learn about or harness the power of DevOps in Salesforce, this event is for you.

Key take-home 1: The state of Salesforce DevOps

Gearset’s 2023 State of Salesforce DevOps report has the insights of 1,254 respondents. It explores key drivers, successes, aspirations, and concerns which businesses are encountering across the ecosystem.

Jack McCurdy (DevOps Advocate at Gearset) overviewed many key insights from the report. Some of the main points included:

  • 97% of respondents said their businesses use of Salesforce has evolved.
  • The frequency that teams can release changes to production varies significantly.
  • DevOps can yield significant ROI; with 45% reporting monthly savings of $20k+.
  • Teams investing in DevOps training are outperforming those that do not.
  • Teams wish to upskill in a mix of hard and soft skills in 2023 (e.g. CI/CD 50%, collaboration & teamwork 44%, etc).
Some of the key slides are shown below:

For me, this highlights the importance of DevOps practices. Afterall, buying a racing car does not make you a fast and competent driver. To extract the best performance, you need the right skills and working practices. The same is true with Salesforce. Technological change is accelerating as exemplified by Salesforce’s focus on AI. As businesses seek to maximise their returns, teams need working practices that allow them to generate value often. Embracing a DevOps mindset and continuing to refine can help.

Download (free): Gearset: The State of Salesforce DevOps 2023

Key take-home 2: Culture and Communication

Silos are important for controlling an organisation, but the best organisations have teams who can work cross-functionally to deliver big ticket vision items

DevOps is not just a software solution; it is a set of cultural working practices and mindset. Value is delivered through collaboration, continuous improvement and breaking down silos to meet business needs. Combining working practices and tooling helps delivery teams produce high-quality outputs, faster.

Many talks exemplified the benefits of this within DevOps. Among the essential highlights are:

  • Shift left. Through open collaboration, challenges can be identified earlier. This simplifies resolving issues and allows value to flow more easily.
  • Communicate frequently across the entire project team. This ensures the vision remains clear and the right solution is built. Tailor communication to suit the audience.
  • Breakdown large projects into smaller items. A big-bang approach is often risky. Breakdown items to allow value to flow frequently.
  • Nurture inclusivity by prioritising cultural add, not cultural fit. Homogenous cultures are seldom effective. Enrich your team’s culture and not just add people to ‘fit in’.

Having spent time exploring SAFe Agile earlier this year, many of the themes resonated with me. For more information on the importance of communication, check out this post

Key take-home 3: Elevate you and your team’s skills

DevOps Infinity Loop
Taken from Trailhead: Get Started with DevOps. Image of the DevOps infinity loop.

The third take-home links closely with culture and communication. It is important to remember that DevOps is a combination of software development and IT operations practices. Within this, there is an ongoing feedback loop to ensure teams work closely. Achieving this requires a mix of skills and a growth mindset.

Various talks highlighted the importance of empowering teams. Key themes included:

  • Focus on empowering people. Ensure teams have the resources they need to succeed.
  • DevOps requires a mix of hard and soft skills. Promote the development of both.
  • Importance of analysis and planning. These are essential to ensure you are building the right solution to address the business need.
  • Continuous improvement. Identify constraints and work to alleviate them.

Overall, it is important to maintain a growth mindset. As Jonny Harris’s (Salesforce DevOps Engineer, Zurich) example showed, there can be ups and downs, but persistence and continuous improvement are key.

Key take-home 4: Tooling and AI

Whilst DevOps is more than software, the right tools can empower teams to deliver more, with higher quality, faster. Here are some tools / use cases to consider from the sessions:

  • Aquiva Labs. AI Checker that makes reviewing pull requests easier. Generative AI is used to automatically check code and give feedback. This saves your team time and allows greater focus on value-adding activities.
  • Elements.cloud. Change Intelligence is closely related to DevOps; helping Salesforce teams make informed choices. Elements helps teams engage stakeholders and plan properly, managing complexity and risks. This reduces waste and improves the likelihood of success.
  • Gearset. Salesforce specific cloud-based DevOps platform with deployment, pipeline automation, sandbox seeding and backup solutions (archiving in progress!).
  • Provar. End-to-end testing solution for Salesforce. Features such as Provar Manager helps with release and test management, automating processes and helping teams build quality into releases.

Key take-home 5: Benchmarking and improvement

One golden thread throughout is benchmarking and improvement. DORA metrics are commonly used to evaluate DevOps performance, consisting of:

SFDC Penguin - DORA Metrics
Image summarising the four main DORA metrics

Without context, this can become less meaningful. For example, a small team at the start of a DevOps journey will gain little from benchmarking against a large implementation. Instead, focus on the challenges and goals relevant to your business. 

Richard Clark (Chief Strategy Officer, Provar) also highlighted that quality is a journey. This emphasises that there is little value pursuing one metric in isolation, such as deployment frequency, if it reduces deployment quality. Instead, gauge the reliability of the overall process.

The key is ensuring strategies and approaches used are appropriate to your unique business (e.g., team size, skills available, etc).

Thank you

This post is a summary of fantastic talks from DevOps Dreamin’ that were streamed from the keynote room. A big thank you to everyone for sharing your experiences and Gearset for sponsoring and streaming the event:

  • Adam Hooper (DPD UK)
  • Adrian King (Elements.cloud)
  • Andrew Cook (SF Ben)
  • Andy Barrick (Gearset)
  • Anna Wałach-Dudzic (Aquiva Labs)
  • Ben Coleman (Performa IT)
  • Evgeny Vladimirov (Aquiva Labs)
  • Francis Pindar (AdminToArchitect.com)
  • Jack McCurdy (Gearset)
  • Jonny Harris (Zurich Insurance Ltd)
  • Lynette Lim (Slalom)
  • Mark Arneill (Gearset)
  • Matt Bevins (Payroc)
  • Matt Jackson (Gearset)
  • Meri Williams (Pleo)
  • Piotr Zuralski (Gearset)
  • Richard Clark (Provar)
  • Sam Chappell (Performa IT)
  • Sophie Crosby (PASO)
  • Stuart Grieve (Slalom)

In memory of Gemma Blezard

During the event I heard of the passing of Gemma Blezard, Founder of The Architect Club, Ladies Be Architect, Salesforce MVP, and Golden Hoodie winner. Whilst I did not know Gemma personally, I found her story inspiring and blog influential in me creating SFDC Penguin. Her contributions to the community will live long and her work will continue through Ladies Be Architects to help remove barriers for anyone wishing to pursue a career in the Salesforce ecosystem.

My condolences to Gemma’s family and friends at this difficult time.

Summary

DevOps Dreamin’ 2023 covered many themes relevant to anyone wishing to explore DevOps in Salesforce. Topics ranged from exploring the current landscape, hard/soft skills needed, tooling and benchmarking. This post has summarised my key take-homes from the day. I hope it will help you with your own DevOps journeys, as I am sure the content from DevOps Dreamin’ will help me!

Until next time, thanks for reading! 🐧

Bonus Penguin Fact 🐧

What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to penguin chicks, evidently a lot! In September, a rare emperor penguin chick was born at San Diego’s SeaWorld. Two months and more than 29,000 votes later, a name has been chosen: Pearl! Check out this short video for more info!  

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