Now on DevOps Radio: Alan Ranciato of Express Scripts Feels the Need for DevOps Speed

We’re already counting down the days to Jenkins World 2018 (September 16-19, 2018), but until then we can reminisce with the first of six DevOps Radio episodes recorded at Jenkins World 2017. In episode 22 of DevOps Radio, CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey sits down with Alan Ranciato, director of technology, DevOps strategy and automation at Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefit manager and #22 on the Fortune 500. Alan recounts his DevOps journey at the “biggest company no one has ever heard of,” and how DevOps is helping his team beat the clock.

Alan has been in tech since before Y2K, most recently working for American Express. At Express Scripts, Alan’s mission is to standardize the technologies being acquired in order to move faster. With the goal of increasing the speed of delivery, he has implemented DevOps and automation as part of an overall Agile transformation.

As he chats with Sacha, Alan talks about his work to centralize code during development, using Jenkins to build out their pipelines library and then moving the teams to CloudBees Jenkins Enterprise. Alan also describes how the organization’s use of Ansible running in Docker makes connectivity to target hubs and deployment automation easier. This has helped Express Scripts standardize processes in order to touch all applications within the enterprise and as a bonus, Alan says, they no longer need to use spreadsheets.

Taking Software Delivery Cycle Time from Two Weeks…to One Day

On the heels of the CloudBees DevOptics announcement, Sacha also asks what Express Scripts is doing to quantify progress and achieve the changes they are making in software delivery. Alan says while they use Graphite and Splunk to determine the progress being made on builds, stopwatch time is really where it matters. They have taken a software delivery process that used to be two weeks down to one day. According to Alan, at the end of the day, it’s about seeing quicker time to results.

Alan says one of the keys to quick DevOps adoption is to get teams really involved in creating the code and implementing new changes. While he originally considered doing a full lift-and-shift process, he determined teams were not ready for it, since it’s difficult to move to something new and still move forward with their work. Although Alan’s teams have made a lot of progress in a short time frame, the goal is to get to continuous delivery and remove unnecessary check points and minutia that currently require human intervention. At the end of the day, he knows it’s all about incremental improvement. And, what Alan has learned from experience is: “You have to own it end to end…and be willing to fail fast.”

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Learn more about Express Scripts