Matthew Skelton has been building, deploying, and operating commercial software systems since 1998, including systems for London Stock Exchange, thetrainline.com, TUI Travel, Virgin Mobile, and MRI brain scanning machines. He is co-founder and Principal Consultant at Skelton Thatcher Consulting, a specialist consultancy that helps its clients to make the changes to technology and teams needed for modern ‘cloud’ software systems. He focuses on helping organisations to adopt and sustain good practices for building and operating software systems: Continuous Delivery, DevOps, aspects of ITIL, and software operability.
Matthew founded and runs the 900-member London Continuous Delivery meetup group, and instigated the first conference in Europe dedicated to Continuous Delivery, PIPELINE Conference. He is a regular speaker at conferences around the world – speaking on DevOps, Continuous Delivery, and software operability – and co-facilitates the popular Experience DevOps workshop series. He is a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and has an academic background in Cybernetics, Neuroscience, and Music. In his spare time he enjoys trail running and learning classical guitar.
Q: How did you get involved in Continuous Delivery and DevOps?
A: My background is in software development: desktop, mobile, web, and industrial control systems. From around 2006 I became increasingly involved in the build, deployment, and operations of software systems for some large client organisations. It became clear to me that being on Production support is a great way to become a better software developer, and for a while ran a service desk based on ITIL practices. Seeing the effect of addressing (or not addressing) operational concerns as part of software delivery made a big impression on me.
Q: What do you see as the biggest advantage of Continuous Delivery and DevOps?
A: The biggest advantage for organisations that manage to adopt and sustain a Continuous Delivery or DevOps approach for their software systems is that those systems can be built, tested, deployed, and operated much more effectively than before. The systems can be made more relevant to the organisation’s requirements by being easier to change and improve on an ongoing basis, providing better ‘return on investment’.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge in Continuous Delivery and DevOps?
A: The biggest challenge for organisations wanting to adopt Continuous Delivery and DevOps – a challenge I see time and again with many different client organisations – is that we as IT folk have so far done a very poor job at explaining to non-techies (and other techies) that building and operating modern, complex software systems is a high-skill, value-add activity, not simply the ‘execute-only’ activity that many people seem to think it is. We need to become better at characterising the patterns of teams, technology choices, and funding models that will help to produce more effective systems without ever-increasing costs due to the accretion of functionality via a naive ‘new features first’ approach to software evolution.