Search
Homepage Rankings and Research Companies Channelcast Marketing Matters CRNtv Events Acronis #CyberFit Summit 2021 Avaya Newsroom Experiences That Matter Cisco Partner Summit Digital 2020 Intel Partner Connect 2021

Dell CIO Praised For Cutting ‘Toil And Waste’ From Developer Teams

‘When you think about how hard it is to find great developers and great people that can build systems at scale, then if you are only utilizing 20 percent of their time doing the things that you specifically recruited them for, it seems rather foolish right?’ Dell Technologies Chief Information Officer Jen Felch says.

The global leader in computer hardware introduced hundreds of software innovations at Dell Technologies World – 500 updates and new capabilities coded into its storage products, integrations with the leading cloud vendors, and API-driven cloud environments for its own products – an accomplishment that was only possible with a radical re-organization of its development teams, led by Dell veteran and Chief Information Officer Jen Felch.

“We are blessed,” Dell Co-Chief Operating Officer and vice-chairman Jeff Clarke said of Felch. “She’s a manufacturing engineer. She worked in our factories for a long time. She’s very process-oriented. She brought that process rigor to our IT organization and worked on, the first thing: standardization. You can’t do anything and fix anything at scale, unless you standardize. All of the things she did was systematically adding process, structure and engineering rigor to how we did IT.”

[RELATED: Dell Technologies World 2022: 5 Biggest News Announcements]

Felch – who holds degrees from MIT in mechanical engineering and computer science – took over as CIO three years ago, rising from her roots as a Dell manufacturing engineer to chief information officer at one of the largest tech companies on the planet. She said at the time, the software engineers – who create new solutions, refactor applications, and move workloads – were weighed down by a time-consuming ticketing processes.

“They are the critical path to our transformation, not only for IT, but for the company, and what we found was that they were spending about 20-percent of their time writing software, and the rest of the time was doing administrative tasks,” she said. “By creating efficiencies for developers, we created efficiencies for infrastructure and for our operations teams.”

Dell developers’ ticket-based workflow meant they were constantly tracking items such as access to infrastructure, a security review, or a meeting with teams to talk about interlocks between software, activities that consumed as much as 80-percent of their time.

“It was super wasteful and not very exciting,” Felch said. “It’s not how developers really want to spend their time right? Nobody wants to spend their time doing that … When you think about how hard it is to find great developers and great people that can build systems at scale, then if you are only utilizing 20 percent of their time doing the things that you specifically recruited them for, it seems rather foolish right?”

Automation came to the rescue in some areas, like adding self-service access to infrastructure, Felch said. Developers were then reorganized into “product groups” which she said are teams that each own a single product.

“Teams are fully accountable for their application,” Felch said. “The legacy version of it. The new version of it. Modernizing it. Patching it. User incidents, so if someone has to call you because it is not easy to use, that belongs to one team that is wholly responsible for that work. It gave our developers context, and we reduced, what I think of as just toil, toil and waste, and said, ‘Let’s just get that out of the system.’ And the other thing we did was to eliminate a lot of meetings.”

Development teams were able to cut out a number of meetings by shifting from a ‘project-led’ organization, to a ‘developer -led’ organization, she said, and productivity soared.

“Our cycle time reduced by over 50 percent,”Felch said. “Output is up by over 75 percent. We reduced vulnerabilities by over 90 percent. We are deploying more cyber vaults. The most important thing is investing in our people to not just build new skills, but to practice them.”

Clarke told CRN one way the dev teams would use this added efficiency to enhance the services offered through Dell’s public cloud offering, Apex.

“The answer is yes,” Clarke said. “What you are going to see is there is not going to be a classic line between what IT does and what a product development organization does. It’s actually going to be a very fluid organizational concept we have built.”

 

 

 

Back to Top

Video

     

    trending stories

    sponsored resources