What’s in store for DevOps World? Who better to ask than the CEO and co-founder of conference host CloudBees? Sacha Labourey offers his thoughts leading up to the conference, to be held on Sept. 22-24. Register today for free

Conferences have had to be resourceful putting on virtual events during the pandemic. Why is DevOps World still a must-attend event this year?
Labourey: Digital transformation is more important than ever. Before the pandemic, we saw so many instances where companies were looking to software to drive innovation and help them create value within their organizations. Now, with COVID-19, we’ve seen software’s importance rise immeasurably. While other functions have been limited, software is still up and running and forming a key part of the fabric of our society – whether it’s Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams for communication or other tools for collaboration.

To enable software to reach its true potential, organizations have to turn their DevOps capabilities into smooth, well-running machines. DevOps World has emerged as the preeminent source for knowledge and best practices across the globe. That was true during its years as an in-person event – and it’s still true this year done in a virtual format.

We’ve created an exciting program packed with compelling content and new and interesting ways to engage. We have a top-flight group of keynote speakers, 125 DevOps-focused sessions and virtual meet-ups where our 20,000 attendees can meet and exchange ideas. Attendees can get all the benefits of DevOps World they have come to expect – and they can do it safely, from their own homes and workplaces, free of charge. 

What are you most looking forward to about DevOps World 2020?
Labourey: I’m fascinated to see how the vibrant DevOps World culture translates to a virtual event. We’ve set up a whole interactive experience for people to engage at the conference – and with each other.

We’ve set up two chat features – one for Q&As with the speakers and another to interact with other attendees (visible to all in attendance). If you have intriguing, thought-provoking takes on a particular session, share them with the crowd. Engage session leaders or others that are attending in a debate. Who knows – maybe we’ll see some good-natured trash talking.

We’ll have live video chat features at the expo booths. And then, lastly, we’re setting up a “speed dating”-type functionality where attendees can turn on their cameras and be randomly paired with another attendee for a 30-second chat.

The culture will be electric – just like in past years. But this year that electricity will come through pixels instead of in-person interactions.

There seems to be a heavy focus on leadership at this year’s conference. What’s happening there?
Labourey: Clearly, having good, sound leadership is very important in every aspect of business. It’s especially important in DevOps – because DevOps is about change, and you need to manage change.

That’s why we’ve created a whole new Leadership Track. It’s going to be chaired by Accelerated Strategies Group, and it will focus on ways to develop strategic business thinking and deep technical expertise specific, for the most part, to software delivery topics. The forum runs through the whole conference, aiming to equip a whole new generation of digital leaders.

In this new track, we have a very interesting session about applying leadership concepts from the battlefield in real life. The session is being delivered by a pair of former U.S. Navy Seals, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, who authored the New York Times Best Seller Extreme Ownership – How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win.” They’ll share lessons about how the DevOps community can navigate leading organizations through difficult situations. What do you do in times of high stress? Managers need to know how to motivate teams — to show them why their tactics make sense. It will help teams act more independently. It’s not about micromanagement. It’s about leadership.

What’s ahead for CloudBees itself into 2021 and beyond?
Labourey: We’re at an exciting point in the company’s history. 2019 was the best year in our history, from a revenue and performance point of view. And we did great things building up the organization, adding new release automation capabilities with the acquisition of Electric Cloud and feature flag technology through our purchase of Rollout. 

We have the best enterprise CI/CD solution on the market, but we’re not going to stop there. This year we’ll be working on unifying a new distribution to bring all the layers of CI/CD together. DevOps is considered one disciple, but right now the bridge between CI and CD is not as seamless as it could be. We will deliver that bridge, bringing a focus to the finer aspects of integration and delivery. We’ll be advancing our work on Software Delivery Management – the process of integrating all concepts and all aspects of the software delivery process.

Has CloudBees’ structure helped the company adapt during the pandemic?
Labourey: The fact that we’ve created a distributed and largely virtual work force has helped us immensely. Unlike a lot of companies, most of our executive team works in different cities. That means, from the top down, we’re used to dealing in a distributed fashion. COVID didn’t really change the way we work at all. A lot of times failure in organizations comes from the top. If some executives are all around one table and a few others are in different places, you find there’s a disconnect.

That didn’t change the anxieties we’ve felt as a result of the disruptions we’ve encountered over the past year. There’s been a different feel to the way we approach work. None of us have been entirely shielded by that. But we at CloudBees are used to communicating on a grand scale – using video meeting technology, sharing information across time zones, connecting as one on our ongoing mission. That was the case before, and it impresses me how we’ve continued to move at a fast clip.

The theme of this year’s event is “Show Us Your World.” When it comes to CloudBees, what are you most proud of? What would you like to show the world?
Labourey: I’ve always said we have great products and great innovation – second to none. But what I like about us, as well, is the culture we’ve built. DevOps World gives us the ability to show off that culture. We care about the impact technology has on people – what needs to be meaningful, what needs to make sense. It’s not just about products. We care about creating great technology, but also working well together and making a difference in the industry. I’d like to show everybody what we can do and what kind of impact we can have on the world, together.