DevOps Improving Outcomes through Improved Business Processes
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DevOps Improving Outcomes through Improved Business Processes

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There has been a lot talked about artificial intelligence and automation however, not much has been written about DevOps, which is a software engineering culture and practice that aims at unifying software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops), says Anand Sahay, CEO, Xebia, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Why is there a need for courses in DevOps?

Anand Sahay, CEO, Xebia

Anand Sahay, CEO, Xebia

Digital has completely changed the way people want to do business today. It is forcing businesses to adopt digital technologies and find ways to create and innovate products (mostly software) at a faster pace. The software processes and development practices required to bring about the differentiated digital transformation for companies include DevOps. DevOps today is a fundamental software development practice to allow companies to experiment and allow their products to keep pace with the changing market needs and adapt to the ever-changing consumer behavior.

It is of paramount importance for all Computer Science or IT students to learn all aspects of DevOps practices to meaningfully contribute to Digital transformation projects. To some extent, it will serve as the bedrock on which the future of software development will be based.

At a higher level, DevOps courses will teach students about Software craftsmanship, the approach or the mindset to automate wherever possible, integrate security and testing leading to faster innovation and shorter development cycles.

Tell us about your collaboration with UPES and programs Xebia has co-designed with UPES?

UPES and Xebia IT Architects India introduced two new full-time B Tech in Computer Science Engineering (CSE) programmes in 2017-18 with specializations in Big Data and DevOps. Through this collaboration, experts from Xebia will help UPES design curriculum for the programs and train University faculty. Xebia will also provide knowledge support through tech talks and seminars held by industry experts to help connect the learning process to industry discourses. Both programs have ‘Design Thinking’ modules to help students develop problem solving skills, analytical thinking, and knowledge development through creative learning.

Do you see market for Big data and DevOps growing? What are the career prospects?

DevOps is ranked as one of the most difficult tech jobs for companies to fill. This means that there is a huge shortage of professionals in the market. This means that students in this field have a high chance for employment. Career prospects in DevOps include Dev-Op Architect, Security Engineer, Automation Engineer, Integration Specialist etc.

The global big data market is steadily expanding and is estimated to grow from $18.38 in 2014 to $92.28 in 2026. A quick search on job portals like Indeed.com and Naukri.com will reveal that there are more than 3,300 big data job openings on Indeed.com alone, and over 4,000 job postings on Naukri.com with salaries extending from INR three lakhs p.a to over 25 lakhs.

What is the status of education in India? Are there enough courses available?

The computer science education with respect to what is needed today is really behind the curve. The course content and subjects are almost irrelevant and old. Although there are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to augment the learning process, I feel that the adoption pace is still slow and students coming out of colleges need significant training and cost, borne by the companies to make them prime time to do projects. Also, the amount of relevant hands-on experience required for students to understand the various aspects of software development are low.

If there are courses available, (even with the private player) what is the response of students, are they taking up these courses? 

Students and parents need more sensitization to understand the significance of these new courses which are becoming available in the forward-looking private institutions. A lot of parents and students still look for standard specializations which in today’s world is not relevant. It’s important that Universities, and Companies come together to spread awareness about such new courses and pertinent needs of the market.

What are the qualities of the courses/curriculum and graduates so produced?

Private universities are beginning to collaborate with niche companies to develop specialized tech courses, the way UPES and Xebia have collaborated for Big Data and DevOps. This will significantly improve the quality of the course and relevance of the curriculum. The quality of graduates so produced would be more productive for the industry than before. We just need to make sure that more and more passionate students pick such specializations.

Online courses (MOOCs) have good content but it still has a long way to go before we can see those courses as an alternative to thorough classroom engineering courses for students at the undergraduate level.  For working professionals, they are a great way to enhance learnings and get better jobs and projects to work on.

Why do you think DevOps would be able to provide jobs in future, considering that it has been there since long and the disruption rate is fast now?

DevOps is already mainstream with many organizations, making it a part of their work culture and the way software is done. However, over 50% of the companies are still lagging. The Digital transformation movement will continue to expand the need for strong DevOps engineers who are already one of the highest paid IT practitioners today and will continue to do so for the next decade.

What are the technologies of future?

It is very difficult to predict the technologies of the future. Tech disruptions are extremely rapid and fast changing. Today, we see Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Wearables, Blockchain, Virtual/ Extended Reality and BOTS becoming mainstream. These technologies are in for a long haul. The way I see it, in the coming decade, they are going to rule the roost.

From a future perspective, we see Quantum Computing as the next big wave in technology. It is still in the research phase and in a few years, they will become mainstream.

Can you share a synopsis of global trends and India’s positioning (both good and bad, loopholes and where India can work) when it comes to new technologies?

Blockchain, Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Bots — these are the current technology trends that are taking the world by storm. In the context of Indian market and innovation, technologies like Deep Learning/AI, Blockchain, and IoT are some of the prime areas where companies are delving into. We see a lot of startups and young companies work in the field of AI. Analytics and IoT are also some of the leading technologies where the Indian companies are gaining their foothold. We also see a shift in the way traditional companies work. They are adapting to the changing technology landscape and reinventing themselves to go fully digital and becoming open to experiments.

One of the weaknesses in India has been the lack of research and funding to create new disruptions. India was typically importing tech, but with the growing startup ecosystem, India is fast becoming a breeding ground for deep innovation, which will hopefully bring the much-desired change.

Why do you think India needs to outsource technologies and companies from foreign for its digital initiatives?

Ancient India is known to have actively contributed to the field of science and technology. Sadly, India is still dependent on foreign countries and companies for its technology needs. The problem is deep-rooted as it starts from how parents and society push young minds to follow a traditional path and discourage risk-taking. This deprives India of passionate people to pursue their dream and force them to settle for less. Job insecurity and wrong definition of success further diminish the enthusiasm of the young talented people. Those who still pursue these alternate paths of serious research find it hard to get funding and infrastructure to create any valuable contribution to the world community.

As a result, instead of growing as the fastest economy, India is still dependent on foreign companies to cater to its digital and infrastructure needs.

Share a brief about your journey and experience as an Indian techie. What were the areas you had to work upon the most? What is the workplace culture now and if you can predict any trend?

I started my journey as an India Techie in the late nineties, when Indian manpower was beginning to be noticed. Despite Indian techies being strong in Science and Math, most of the work was of support or maintenance in nature with less expectation in regard to innovation. I have seen how from doing basic technical work, India has transitioned to  become a destination of large turnkey projects leading to huge investment in various processes such as CMMi to improve the predictability of success of projects till late 2000.Yet, India was still seen as manpower providers. Today, the Indian IT workforce has made a huge leap and are beginning to be looked at for bringing innovation into the products they are developing. My own work involved creating differentiated software products for retail and banking industry.

The workplace culture in India has also evolved tremendously over these years. From being command control and hierarchical, we have begun to be more agile and independent. This has helped in creating a workplace environment that is conducive to innovation. The future seems to be moving toward smaller self-sustaining teams using Agile software development practices to create world-class products. Oversight and management will change into becoming a support organization which will help in removing impediments for the team.

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