TechXLR8: Why Microsoft does DevOps


Live at the Cloud & DevOps World Summit at TechXLR8, principal group program manager at Microsoft, Martin Woodward discusses DevOps.

Starting off the talk, Woodward asks what exactly is DevOps, to which he displays a definition used by Microsoft on the screen:

“DevOps is the union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to end users.”

Woodward explains that people, process and products are in that order as “people are the hard part, doing the culture change is the hard part. The processes to support those people is usually the next hardest bit, and then the tooling…you know is easy really”.

Azure DevOps is the toolchain of choice for Microsoft engineering, To give an image of the scale of the number of people using Azure DevOps inside of Microsoft to build software, just over 107,000 users inside Microsoft use Azure DevOps everyday shipping software to customers.

Woodward discusses further how important the change of culture was for DevOps, classing shipping as an important feature.

“When you have lots of teams working independently shipping constantly, you need to have a common definition of what “done” is across the business,” arguing that if one team is shipping “things” but not at the same quality levels as other teams then “it lowers the bar for everybody else”.

The definition of ‘done’ utilised now to prevent this is: “live in the production collecting telemetry that examines the hypothesis which motivated the deployment”.

“You should be making small incremental changes, and it’s better or worse, better or worse and you are constantly improving the system,” making it better or worse. Through testing engineers are able to know if the system is working or not.

In the latter half of the talk, Woodward emphasises that processes and culture changes need to be put in place to aide the reality testing occurs in production. As well as discussing how Microsoft uses progressive exposure when deploying new features.

Woodward refer’s back to the definition of DevOps and its importance of putting value in the hands of customers, “you need a culture change that is customer obsessed”. He states that if production is down, focus should be on fixing it instead of teams working on features for the next system.

Microsoft has a sustainable DevOps Teams and self-forming teams providing opportunities and career mobility.

Woodward concludes stating:

“DevOps isn’t this magic silver bullet that’s going to solve all your problems. It’s still work.

“You’ve got to learn where you’re going…incrementally learn, incrementally improve.”

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