DevOps interview : Part 3. Yasunobu Kawaguchi on The impact of Small Team, Microservices and DevOps


Why a big company like Rakuten needs DevOps? Yasunobu told me about the three most important ICT strategies for an enterprise company.

 Tsuyoshi: Why did you start the DevOps meeting?
 Yasunobu: I met Ed Kraay who is an agile coach of Yahoo! in 2009. He talked about DevOps and release in Yahoo on the Agile Conference.
 Tsuyoshi: Is this the guy who is presenting at Rakuten technology conference this year?
 Yasunobu: Yes. The Rakuten technology conference has a lot of DevOps sessions. Ed and Microsoft DevOps guy, Ryuzee and Dana Pylayeva who will present about DevOps with chocolate, lego and scrum game.
 Tsuyoshi: Super. Why were you inspired by him?
 Yasunobu: I was not surprised about Netflix and Facebook's DevOps. However, Yahoo! is an enterprise company which has a lot of legacy systems. It was established about 20 years ago. They successfully stood up a DevOps environment in just a year. It is amazing.

Facebook already has a culture of startup from the beginning so I'm not surprised by their DevOps adoption.

But Yahoo! didn't have the culture. They have established a DevOps environment from scratch.
 Tsuyoshi: What outcome did they achieve?
 Yasunobu: They used to take 2 months for development and 4 months for QA for its release. Now they can enable several deployments per day.
 Tsuyoshi: It's amazing.
 Yasunobu: Why did they try DevOps? I guess they must have had a reason.

A big company used to have an advantage for building a service. They have a bunch of money, so they can invest money into QA activities. After the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Startups got some power.

Because the cutting edge technologies enable us to build a profitable service by a small team (3-5 people).Startups beat big companies. At that time, big companies couldn't beat startups because 4-month-QA now becomes disadvantage for the market.
 Tsuyoshi:I agree with you.

 Yasunobu: I think now is the time for the break-through of DevOps.
 Tsuyoshi: Please expand.
 Yasunobu: When the world is about to change, sometimes we have a timing that management can't judge something. Because it requires company-level-judgement.

For example, when we first met Virtualization, we had a service division and an operation division. At that time, the OS was set up by the service division, and a server was set up by the operation division.

However, a Virtual machine includes both OS and virtual machine. Which division should look after the virtualization? Who is in charge? It is a turning point for the ICT industry.
 Kotaro: Yeah. Now is the time. Who's in charge of chef recipe? Is it code or infrastrucute?
 Yasunobu: The way of thinking of software development has been changing. Virtualization, Scrum and so on. The same thing is about to happen for the DevOps, small teams and microservices.
 Tsuyoshi: You mean now is the time for the big bang that is coming again.
 Yasunobu: Yes. As I said, for a long time, enterprise companies didn't know how to beat startups. But now, we've got the answer.
 Tsuyoshi: Tell me more!
 Yasunobu: Startups is really flexible and easy to adopt for change. Startups can create software quicker than an enterprise company. An enterprise company couldn't do it.

Now we can use a microservices architecture. Which means if an enterprise company can create some small teams, microservices are loosely coupled and a small team can handle it. Then they use DevOps practices for the development. So they can successfully deploy several times per day.
 Tsuyoshi: Divide and conquer.
 Yasunobu: Yes. We can decompose a big service into microservices. Small teams can handle microservices. Now enterprise companies can use a DevOps approach like startups which means enterprise companies are about to have huge advantages because they have huge resources against startups.
 Tsuyoshi: It must be a big turning point. It is disruptive innovation.
 Yasunobu: That is why it is very important for enterprise companies to try small team , microservices and DevOps. In Japan, when I noticed change like this, about three years later, it becomes popular.
 Tsuyoshi: It is like a Yasunobu's law. haha.
 Yasunobu: Netflix 2011. Fowler wrote a blog about small teams and microservices and DevOps. It took about a year for me before I notice it.

Cookpad is cool as they already tried it in 2014. Once I notice a change, it will take about 3 years to be popular. In Japan, Jeff Sutherland came to Japan in 2011 and Scrum became popular in 2014.

*Note: The agile approach was not so popular until 2014 in Japan. Now they are trying.
 Tsuyoshi: Sometimes, someone asks me what is suitable domain for DevOps. For example, is front-end system good for DevOps, but not for backend or something. However, I think it is non-sense. DevOps practices will be a standard of software development.

It is an intrinsic change. Backend system should use these, because no one will disrupt the service stability but still has an ability to deploy quickly and safely.
 Kotaro: Now new grads know about Scrum. They also know about TDD and CI. They said that they learned in University.
 Tsuyoshi: It was surprising. I think this change includes Lean startup and Jeff Patton's agile product ownership. One of the value of short release cycle is a quick feedback loop. Yasunobu translated the User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton. What do you think about it?
 Yasunobu: Think about a big hospital and a small clinic. If some same problem like fire, happened these two facilities, what would happen?

In the small clinic, it causes a panic and quick response for it, on the other hand, the big hospital won't. Because people in the big hospital might not think they need to evacuate from it. This is the feedback loop differences between two.

But now, an enterprise company can use small teams. It used to need multi layered management structure, but now they can take an Amoeba Management style (Note : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoeba_Management) that includes a lot of self-organized teams which have 5 to 50 people are in charge of making profit by itself.
 Kotaro: It is said that small team is great but it requires 3-5 unicorns and it is very difficult. What do you think about it?
 Yasunobu: The thing is Passion / Skill / Small team. Especially passion is important. Skill will follow.
 Tsuyoshi: I agree with that. Passion is crucial. When I was in charge of the 2nd agile project in my life, only myself and one developer can handle TDD. The team includes a new grad.
 Kotaro: The small team includes 5 Devs or 5 people that includes Dev / Ops / QA?
 Yasunobu: 5 people for Dev / Ops / QA. I mean cross functional. No such guy can handle everything.
 Kotaro: I think small teams are originated by QC activities and small group activities in Japan.

Japanese bottom up kaizen activity is reimported from Western countries.
 Yasunobu: The bottom up team and small team with passion. Jeff Sutherland focused on it. In the western culture, individual happiness comes first then the team. However, in Asia, it is the opposite. But a small team is not only in Japan, but also Asian culture I think.

Toyota is the same. Before Tayler's management style, then GM production system beat the Toyota system. Toyota couldn't beat them for a long time and they didn't have much budget and resources. They came up with an all-round worker style. The testing phase come last at first then they kaizen it finally, the testing was decomposed into every phases...

Thank you for coming guys! I was really impressed about your story.

An enterprise company can beat startups by using small teams, microservices and DevOps.

It was an impressive idea.

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