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Former CIO sees digital transformations sprinting through DevOps

Clint Boulton | Feb. 27, 2017
Sanjay Mirchandani, CEO of software vendor Puppet, says DevOps helped him as CIO of EMC, where he led a tech transformation.

Mirchandani explains the DevOps mindset this way: "It's really about how fast we can get things done and how much can we truly change the way in which we deliver capabilities of value for our customers.”

Such efforts are well underway at organizations ranging from Capital One and Fannie Mae to Wal-Mart and Target. According to Puppet’s 2016 State of DevOps report, high-performing organizations deploy 200 times more frequently, with 2,555 times faster lead times, recover 24 times faster, and have three times lower change failure rates as lower-performing companies.

CEO primer: Run IT and a business

In 2008, , EMC CEO Joe Tucci asked Mirchandani, who was working as COO of the company's global centers of excellence to assume the CIO role. Mirchandani recalls the request a bit of a head-scratcher.

In previous roles at EMC and Microsoft, Mirchandani consulted IT, sold to IT and consumed services from IT -- but never worked in IT himself. This is how Tucci sold it to him: "You've been a customer and you've always put yourself into the shoes of the customer. I want you to take what we do inside of EMC IT and deliver it to our customers."

Mirchandani approached it like a business service, working out what his profit and loss statements would look like, gauging how long it would take to respond to an internal customer proposal. He asked himself” How would he sell IT to EMC's 53,000 employees?

"We worked to be a broker of services as opposed to being a gatekeeper of services," Mirchandani says. "Build, buy, partner... it shouldn't matter as long as we get the best value in the quickest way for our customers keeping on track with what is strategic for the company."

EMC’s IT department embraced DevOps to reduce single points of failure and quicken application deployment. He installed cybersecurity practitioners alongside scrum development teams to ensure data protection was built into each application and architecture roadmap.

Meanwhile, he retained his responsibility running EMC's global centers of excellence. Operating IT and a separate business line was the single best experience he could have as preparation to becoming a CEO, Mirchandani says.

Now, as Puppet's CEO, Mirchandani says he talks frequently with CIOs about how they can future-proof their organizations using DevOps and associated tools – issues he wrangled when he was a CIO.

"I was exposed to every single business at the highest levels," Mirchandani says. "When you have that ringside seat you are more in tune with the bigger pieces of the business because you're helping them build and deploy capabilities and stay competitive."


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