A DevOps Dojo for Microsoft Enterprise Services

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Jesse Powell, Director, Technical Delivery at Microsoft Services: Developer Support. Mike Batongbacal, Senior Application Development Manager, Microsoft Services: Developer Support. Dave Lipien, Director, Microsoft Services: Developer Support. Sharon Eilon is Head of Application Services Americas at Microsoft Services.


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DevOps Dojo from Microsoft Services

  • DevOps: “The union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users.” – Donovan Brown, Principal DevOps Manager and Cloud Advocate at Microsoft
  • Dōjō: A space for immersive learning, meditation, and practice.

Just over 2 years ago, when Jesse was asked to shape Microsoft Services’ strategy for approaching the topic of DevOps, we faced some serious challenges. The term DevOps was starting to climb in both popularity and mindshare with our customers faster than we had anticipated. While we had a few individuals in our organization who were thought leaders on Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and who had led customers on journeys adopting agile methodologies and tools, as an organization we fell short of having a baseline of foundational knowledge of DevOps. We recognized that in order to deliver even more value through our consulting engagements where we were building solutions for our customers, we need to get this place.

Secondly, while we had a portfolio of DevOps related consulting offerings, we lacked an established DevOps customer journey to organize the individual solutions into a cohesive support experience. As a result, it was often difficult for our sellers and account managers to navigate which was the right title at the right time to bring to their customers.

Lastly, and perhaps worst of all, was how we had fallen behind our brothers and sisters in our product engineering teams on the DevOps front and that we had started to lose credibility with them as effective enablers of DevOps change for our joint customers.

At the time the Azure DevOps product team had begun externally sharing their inspiring story of how they had completely reinvented themselves from selling boxed products with quarterly updates to instead offering cloud services to millions of concurrent users with 99.99% uptime while releasing updates daily. They had done so over an arduous 7-year journey of reorganizing to remove silos, reading and applying the landscape of literature on process improvement and value stream mapping, and of course adopting (and even authoring) the principles and culture of DevOps. Microsoft Services, on the other hand, had no such story to tell.

Enter Kan Tang, who joined Microsoft in February 2019 as a Senior Architect in our Apps Domain. Kan presented her vision for a DevOps Dojo: A set of intellectual property and a delivery vehicle that would enable us to teach the principles of DevOps to our own people and to our customers alike. Kan quickly secured the buy-in and investment of multiple senior leaders in our organization and built a virtual team of content contributors. After several months of hard work, this v-team released the “DevOps Dojo: White Belt”, which is our introductory Dojo experience.

The DevOps Dojo: White Belt contains eight modules, each aligned to key DevOps concepts such as Continuous Integration, Continuous Security, Continuous Planning, and others. Each module is comprised of a lecture, a hands-on lab exercise with a robust sample application in a virtual environment in both C# and Java, a role-playing exercise, and a “make-it-real” section where participants apply what they learned to their current real-world challenges. The Dojo also contains content for 4 “pillars”: Culture, Lean Product, Architecture, and Technology, to round out the discussion. The Dojo can be delivered in several formats: as a 2-hour “foundation” online course, as a 3-day accelerated workshop, as a 1-day deep-dive on a single module, or as a 2-week long immersive experience. Orange Belt, Green Belt, and Black Belt offerings will follow with deeper and more technically challenging experiences for those that want to raise their DevOps capabilities and maturity.

Microsoft Services is rolling out the Dojo as a required training internally for our consultants and support engineers to ensure we all have the baseline DevOps knowledge needed to drive great outcomes. When each of us is bringing the best DevOps principles, practices, culture and tooling to every consulting engagement, we can build superior solutions for our customers that are affordable, scalable, operable, maintainable, performant and secure, while getting to market faster, responding quickly to feedback, and managing change.

Dojo is also now the cornerstone in our portfolio of DevOps offerings and at the center of a clear customer journey and DevOps roadmap.

One of the many positive outcomes of our Dojo journey is how it forged a closer partnership with the Azure DevOps product engineering team. We had constant interaction with and feedback from Sam Guckenheimer’s team as we built the Dojo content, trained our master trainers, and delivered the first pilot experiences. Through this partnership we ensured that we all share a common language and taxonomy when talking about DevOps with our customers. We demonstrated that Enterprise Services now has phenomenal DevOps capabilities and the ability to share them with our customers. As a result, the product engineering team now readily engages us as a partner of choice for helping customers on their journey to DevOps.

As described in the influential book Accelerate by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble and Gene Kim: “DevOps Practices lead to higher IT performance. Developers spend 21% less time on unplanned work and rework and 44% more time spent on new work that leads to delivering more innovation and great customer experiences. Strong IT Performance is a competitive advantage. Firms with high-performing IT organizations were 2x as likely to exceed their profitability, market share, and productivity goals.”

Do you want to start your DevOps Journey? Do you want to hear more about our learnings and insights? Microsoft Services is here to help – please contact us.

The DevOps Dojo is available now to Microsoft’s customers. The DevOps Dojo can be delivered via a Premier Classic or Unified Support contract, or via Microsoft Services when larger scale implementations are desired. If you are interested in having your team experience the DevOps Dojo, contact your Application Development Manager (ADM), Technical Account Manager (TAM), or other Microsoft representative.

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