DevOps and containerisation: echoes from the past

I presented yesterday (June 27th 2019) at the excellent DevOps Enterprise Summit, in London. The presentation is here and I’ll link the video when it is published.

One thing that was particularly interesting to me was the view from the venue, over the Thames, to the Isle of Dogs.

The Isle of Dogs today from North Greenwich — skyscrapers, with new ones being built. My own photo.

This is London’s old Docklands. It’s where my father went, at the age of 17, to join the British India Steam Navigation Company. In those days, Canary Wharf, site of the tallest buildings on the right, looked a little bit different to today.

The docks are gone now. But they’re not really gone. They moved up river to places like Tilbury, Harwich and Felixstowe, with still more cargo coming via roll-on, roll-off shipping through ports such as Dover, after landing and dispersal at the gigantic, massively automated port of Rotterdam. My father talks about spending weeks overseeing the loading and unloading of ships like the MS Kampala, pondering a move to the new container ships, which have now evolved into the beasts up to 400 metres in length like the Maersk Triple E class.

Maersk Tripe E container ship. Creative Commons licensed via Wikipedia

It seemed rather fitting to be talking in such a location about DevOps, digital industrialisation, and transforming enterprises, and about the way systems like IT Service Management face dramatic adaptation to new cultures, pace and scale. It’s not really coincidental that the term “containerisation” is fundamental to both changes. When the ports changed, entire ecosystems of warehousing, transport, catering, accommodation, and community changed with them. Technological advancement has no respect for the status quo.

As a ship geek (blame dad) and someone trying to help guide my own sector along a simlar path of change, I thoroughly recommend the brilliant podcast series Containers, hosted by Alexis Madrigal, particularly the Lost Docks episode.

The intersection of digital transformation, DevOps, and ITSM. Articles by a senior Product Manager in the enterprise service management space. Personal views.

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