Summary:

Communication becomes more difficult as a company grows from a handful of people with diverse skills to a large organization with narrow roles. Structure:Europe panelists had some ideas for how to handle the shift.

Gábor Vészi Prezi Andy Piper Pivotal Erik Dalén Spotify Dan Belcher Stackdriver Structure:Europe 2013
photo: Anna Gordon/GigaOM

At a small startup, everyone sits in the same room and has 10 jobs. At a large organization, people are narrower in their roles and it is easy for employees to fall out of contact.

A panel at GigaOM’s Structure:Europe conference in London Thursday described DevOps as a way to keep companies connected. Instead of sporadic communication between software developers and the IT department, they’re embedded within one another.

That helps companies stay fast and agile, even as they grow large.

Spotify systems engineer Erik Dalen said Spotify has found success by organizing mini startups within the company and embedding DevOps employees with developers, designers and quality assurance people. Each unit becomes more autonomous, increasing their ability to deliver features.

Dalen said Spotify has experienced a lot of growing pains over the last few years as the company increased from employing six engineers to 400. While DevOps’ role is to increase communication between teams, there are still a “lot of difficulties in that, when you’re growing fairly quickly and barely know who works there,” Dalen said.

Prezi engineering manager Gabor Veszi said the key is communication among smaller teams. At first they concentrate on getting their own product out. Eventually, more and more can be automated. Dalen said that then people can concentrate on solving the interesting problems.

Stackdriver co-founder Dan Belcher said large companies can’t fall into the trap of thinking their customers can’t deal with frequent change, which inevitably comes with bugs and other bumps.

“I think enterprises would be well-served to learn that instead of massive quarterly releases … to evolve to being comfortable not going through the mass bureaucracy and deploying very frequently,” Belcher said.

Check out the rest of our Structure:Europe 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:


A transcription of the video follows on the next page

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