In the latest podcast episode of The Art of Modern Ops, Jordi Mon Companys of Weaveworks interviewed tech investor and Managing Director at Dell Technologies Capital, Tyler Jewell.

In a career spanning stints as a founder, CEO, and employee at leading software companies, Tyler has built up a long-held appreciation for companies building disruptive platforms and infrastructure, with a specific interest in areas concerned with developers and DevOps. Since 2009 he has been building a database of firms selling products or services that are predominantly consumed by software developers. Christened the Developer-Led Landscape, he published it for the first time in 2020 – and continues to update it every year. 

We wanted to talk to him about some of his current areas of focus, including continuous and progressive delivery (and GitOps, of course).

Automating to keep things simple

On the podcast, one of the first things Jordi and Tyler discussed was the increasing complexity of software, particularly in what Tyler describes as the CD, GitOps and Experimentation space. He explained his belief that the technology business has made things more complicated than they need to be – resulting in the stage we are at now, where it has become necessary to automate the monitoring of changes to a system. This, he explained, was not simply to make things easier or to free up human resources, but because the systems themselves are now so complex, with so many components linked via so many different relationships, that it is often close to impossible for any human being to keep track. Automation has therefore become necessary, rather than nice to have – and that automation leads to machine-driven decision-making – which again, is necessary because humans are simply too fallible. Couple this with the increasing risk associated with making a wrong decision, and it’s easy to see why all roads lead to a more automated future. 

The right people still matter

“I think a lot of organizations under-invest in… basically hiring rock stars that can really design systems like that. And when they're designed particularly well from the beginning, everything that happens downstream, there's just a lot less tech debt.” - Tyler Jewell, Managing Director, Dell Technologies Capital

One of the things that Tyler lamented was the under-investment he sees in people – particularly those people with the skills necessary to design systems that rely on this kind of automation. It is critical, he explained, because when these increasingly complex systems are designed correctly, everything downstream has a much better chance of running smoothly. Which means less technology debt to deal with down the line. 

Not enough developers

Jordi picked up on a recent quote of Tyler’s in which he pointed out that right now, the growth in the number of available, qualified developers is being outpaced by the growth in demand for their skills. He suggested that in this situation, operational models should focus on making younger, newly qualified developers more productive and more capable, via self-service platforms. 

Tyler agreed, however he pointed out that the concept of self-service platforms is based on our experience of past eras, when developers had to request resources from an ops team to get anything done. Making them more productive is certainly useful, but it is not the only way forward. Given that software is one of the few remaining opportunities for an organization to gain competitive advantage, he argued – the people who can develop that software need to be nurtured in a more holistic way. That certainly includes making them more productive, but it also involves giving them more autonomy as a group. It’s another angle on empowering developers, but it all comes down to the same thing – designing operating models that enable them to work smarter and achieve more. 

“When you impose something on the technical talent and they don't like it, they speak with their feet, they'll just leave. And then whatever you were doing is going to collapse.” - Tyler Jewell, Managing Director, Dell Technologies Capital

To hear the conversation in full, listen to the full podcast now: