Cheryl MacDonald


Software Delivery (A) 2018
Software Delivery (A)
Thursday 13:25 - 13.50
Session level: Suitable for all

We don’t need another hero – we just need DevOps

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Does your organisation rely on a software superhero? That person who comes to the rescue when things go wrong. Software superheroes are brilliant individuals, they have ten times the mental capacity of normal people, they thrive on late nights fixing the problems that mere mortals cannot fix. They dream in binary and hold entire complex systems and thousands of interdependent business rules in their heads. They are your saviour. Who could survive without them?

In this talk, Cheryl MacDonald, Head of Engineering at Nagra Media discusses why heroes in software are ultimately bad, and looks at how DevOps can help to remove the need for heroics.

She will talk about the DevOps journey at Nagra as they transform their on-premise PayTV platform to PayTV as a Service using AWS cloud and move to a fully automated Continuous Delivery pipeline.

This talk will touch on a number of different topics:
• How DevOps can transform an organisation’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity
• The principles behind DevOps that help organisations evolve and improve products more reliably than using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes
• Using automation and continuous delivery to operate and manage infrastructure and development processes at scale and with reduced risk
• Deployment and monitoring strategies for reducing risk and helping to stay informed of performance in real-time
• Practical approaches for migrating legacy systems to DevOps

Is your organisation suffering from complex systems that require software heroics? Are you trapped in the cycle of releasing seldom because releasing is so painful? Can you count your number of releases in weeks rather than hours or minutes? Does losing one of your servers fill you with cold dread because you know it would take weeks to rebuild it?

If you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then DevOps could help you to transform your organisation and speed up your software delivery pipeline, delivering software fast and reliably in order to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive market.


Cheryl MacDonald has been in software engineering for more years than she cares to remember. She started programming before the internet was a twinkle in her mother’s eye, she made hay while the Year 2000 bug shone, and she rode out the Dotcom boom on a run of good luck, a bit of shmooozing, and a sizeable down-payment of hard work.

Frustrated with the slow pace of software delivery in the nineties, and having worked on large-scale, big-bang projects that fizzled and died rather than making a bang, she decided there must be another way to deliver technological change faster and more reliably. With the rise of the internet and digital, she joined a couple of dotcom startups and became addicted to doing things faster and delivering value to customers quicker than traditional organisations.

The Agile movement of the 2000s resonated with Cheryl because it provided a framework that encompassed many of the values learnt through working in a startup: collaboration, developers taking ownership of their software, delivering value early and often, building quality in, adapting as you go and continuously improving.

From the heady days of working in small startups, she has taken these learnings into progressively larger organisations where she is able to bring the fresh ideas from a startup, and scale these for the enterprise, in order to deliver reliable software in an increasingly competitive business landscape. Latterly, she has been learning about how DevOps is the natural progression for Agile and Lean, and how businesses can adopt the DevOps approach to speed up the delivery of customer value.


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