Staples Australia shifts to DevOps

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Staples Australia shifts to DevOps

Bringing internal infrastructure team, outsourced provider on board.

Office supplies firm Staples is in the final stages of bedding DevOps into its Australian operations, and is now looking at how to get its outsourced provider TCS on board.

The company – which is the second largest player in the Australian office supplies market and was sold to private equity this week – began its DevOps journey around six months ago.

Head of infrastructure and operations Maria Hugo told iTnews on the sidelines of the Cloud & DC Edge summit the company is likely to finish embedding DevOps internally sometime during the next quarter – a total journey time of between eight and 12 months.

Though DevOps as a capability initially sat within the infrastructure team, the company decided relatively early to instead have DevOps sit directly with coders in its e-business unit.

“We put DevOps with those developers and they worked really well together because they have to work together and get comfortable releasing and testing code,” Hugo said.

“It was then handed back to infrastructure for an ‘ops support’ type model, and I’m working through the process now of how to provision quickly and release code quickly.

“I’m on-boarding DevOps in infrastructure almost like I would on-board an application in the application space.”

Getting the ops piece right isn’t just an internal concern.

Staples A/NZ uses “platform services” resources from Tata Consultancy Services that are based both on- and offshore to supplement its in-house team.

TCS covers some AIX, Linux and Oracle database administration, but also has some outsourced responsibility for code releases to those platforms, meaning TCS must also on-board with DevOps and with Staples’ chosen tools in that space, which include Ansible and Docker.

“We need to change our contract arrangement [with TCS] because they’re now not only supporting a traditional Linux or AIX environment but also a DevOps environment, and I need them to get comfortable with this space,” Hugo said.

“We’re in the really early stages of working with TCS and the team on what that looks like.”

Hugo said the end goal of the DevOps project was to “delight the [end] customer”. New features and functionality underpinning its web properties, for example, can effectively be put in front of customers much faster.

Staples is yet to decide where its internal DevOps resources will sit in the long term.

“They can sit with the developers or come back into Infrastructure,” Hugo said. “We’ve discussed whether they come back in as a key member of infrastructure ops.”

While that remains an open question, it may be that they can continue to drive more value from the methodology by remaining embedded with the coders.

“For example, I can’t necessarily drive what else to containerise because I’m not close enough to the development teams – I’m doing the back office,” Hugo said.

“I also need DevOps to work with other development teams so they might [continue to] sit elsewhere.”

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