Hey Jon, can you please introduce yourself, your role and give us an
insight into how you started with Accenture and the technical areas of
DevOps and Cloud?
I joined Accenture back in 2017 as a Managing Director after previously working as a Director for another consultancy. Initially I was leading our Financial Services Cloud migrations but then moved across to lead the UK/I DevOps Business as well as our Global DevOps platform. My background is heavily technically hands on – I’ve been a developer, SysAdmin, Engineer, Architect and Head of Infrastructure for a large FS organisations.
How have you built your DevOps function and the team to what it is
With hard work and dedication! I’m amazingly lucky to have a fantastic team who have got on board with our growth (we’ve grown by 100% last year and plan to do the same this year). I’ve also got great support from our tech leadership who have allowed me to run it much like an independent business.
Two major ones really: Serverless and zero-infrastructure computing will reign absolutely supreme. The concept of needing a server/VM will be as remote to modern apps in 2025 as the need to a floppy disk drive is to us now. IaaS is going to die amazingly quickly.
DevOps, Modern Engineering & Agile will cease to be “things” – they’ll just be the way everything is done by default. There are a large number of challenges that exist before this is true however. We see everyone struggling with scaling DevOps at the moment (it’s where we’re picking up a large amount of work).
Who are some of your top influencers in the DevOps and Cloud sphere?
It sounds trite – but I think Elon Musk has been doing some really interesting stuff in DevOps practices in manufacture. If you look at the way they’ve been updating and life cycling Teslas – using constant improvement, multiple iterations of car specs, constant software updates etc it’s really interesting to see what he’s done. We’re seeing more and more interest from companies in similar spaces who are looking to start to do the same.
Thomas Kurian is pretty interesting over at Google. They are really pushing on the cloud front. It’s interesting to see the relation between himself and his prior employer play out in the public eye (Oracle).
Companies are beginning to embrace artificial intelligence more
recently, what technologies are you most excited or nervous about
seeing in the future?
It worries me most the amount of AI research that is going on completely behind closed doors. I think AI will be one of the most fundamental changes that occur to humanity over the next 50 years or so. A huge swathe of the current edge is being done completely unregulated and hidden from public view.
I’m genuinely happy about the focus that’s being put on ethics and removing biases from AI. There are a couple of governments currently discussing bringing in rules and regulations around algorithmic usage and rules – I view that as a good thing to help control the market and ensure it’s fair. I’m a firm believer in market economics – however it needs a functioning and fair market to work, I think there is too much power in a small number of companies at present and I think this needs to be closely monitored and controlled.
I also find it amazing at where AI is being used now – the improvement it’s having to things such as medical imaging/diagnostics is something we should all be happy about.
When building your DevOps team, what skills and qualities do you look
for in a candidate?
A thirst to learn, good computing fundamentals and an interest in technology. I’d take those over hands on experience with a specific tool/project any day.
Do you have any advice for someone who is starting out in the sector?
Don’t do endless tutorials or watch videos. I do think certification is useful, however it’s only a badge not really knowing how to do something. Pick something you want to do/think is cool (Media Server, Home Automation, your own personal robot) and build it properly. You’ll learn far more and have far more fun.
In regard to recruiting in your professional space, what are the issues
you have encountered?
There’s a massive skills shortage in the industry right now and it’s starting to get even worse. I think in the future you’ll see more recruitment agencies helping with training/skilling of candidates just to keep a steady supply of them. This will start to favour slight broader recruitment agencies rather than the very focused ones.
If you weren’t leading Accenture’s DevOps team or in the technology
field, what would you be doing?
I’d love to have been an Architect (the real sense). I’ve got a real love for good architecture/design – especially in a brutalist sense. There’s something amazing around simple, honest design – bridge design is my personal favourite.