Keeping all the pieces of Guestlogix delivery humming along is a major focus of our DevOps team. And no one holds down the fort better than Brian Ott, Engineering Operations Manager. He’s been instrumental in supporting the vision for delivery that Guestlogix has put in place since the decision to turn the company around. Brian has navigated his career through the dot com craze and watched as DevOps culture has emerged in the last decade. Because of the ongoing company growth and on-boarding of new clients, Brian is constantly looking to streamline the process and build teams that can keep up with the growing complexity and demand of building a product from the ground up. He had a moment this week to sit down and tell me a bit about his philosophy and plans for the technology team here at Guestlogix.
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Get **it Done
Ask and answers
WM: What does DevOps mean for Guestlogix?
Brian: When I originally came to Guestlogix, there was nothing in place. We built our team and processes from the ground up. We’re building a new product so we have the luxury of designing our teams and technology in a way that suits us best. Our developers are agile and may be using this or that technology. We need to keep pace with them. That’s why we’re using Kubernetes, doing micro-services, maintaining a good Ci/CD pipeline, good monitoring, and all these essential pieces.
WM: So Guestlogix has a DevOps culture? What does that mean to your team?
Brian: We have full buy-in from the top down. We don’t have those layers of bureaucracy that tend to get in the way, so we’re free to accelerate and move forward. The organization at the top level has figured out what the technology team does, how they do it, and how they can improve upon it. That’s exactly what Sean [Doran, SVP Delivery] has figured out. He’s structuring the organization under Delivery. He’s putting the right teams together and people in the right places, which is preventing silos from developing. We’re free to just move forward and accelerate because we all have the same goal. And when someone isn’t entirely on board with an idea or if tech problems develop, it’s such an easy discussion to have. We just get together in a boardroom and hash things out. I haven’t really seen this in other places. It’s really refreshing.
WM: So then, how do you monitor and track success?
Brian: We don’t really measure success in that way. Initially, I got together with the Head of Engineering and we said the exact same thing to each other: “How can I help you? What’s happening. And what are you guys doing?” We continue to do that periodically to make sure we’re always on the same page . So we don’t measure success with strict number metrics, but we maintain a culture of communication and track progression through sprints.
WM: What do you look for in new team members?
Brian: Learning is continuous, especially in this space. We’re not looking for people who are specialists or masters in one particular area, but people who just have inquisitive minds. We’re looking for people who are receptive to learning, adapting to new ideas, and open to criticism from not only inside the team, but the business. We are providing a service to the business and our end goal is to help others, so we need to be receptive to what they’re saying. We need team members who can “own” their work and not need to be constantly managed. That’s what freedom culture means around here.
WM: Can you be more specific about what you mean by continuous learning?
Brian: Well, if for example, a developer is writing in .NET, you have to learn a little bit about .NET and how to build it and how it runs. If they change languages, we have to adapt to that. The technology we use today is not the same as it was last year. I don’t care what you did ten, five, or even two years ago. I care about whether you’re interested in learning about what’s coming up next.
WM: Are you suggesting that experience is less important?
Brian: No, experience matters. Experience is the foundation of a person’s whole understanding. Someone with no experience may tend to see things with a kind of tunnel vision - they aren’t aware of all the situations that could potentially happen, unlike someone who’s been in the trenches. They have a broader view of the project and have experience identifying and mitigating problems. But it’s more important that a team member have both that depth of experience as well as the ability to adapt, communicate, and learn alongside the rest of the team and the business.
WM: What are your plans for the future of your team?
Brian: The vision for my team is to bring on people who want to accelerate, who want to learn, and aren’t afraid to get their hands a little dirty. My job is to enable them to be the best they can be. I want everybody who comes onto my team to be better than when they started.
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