DevOps, Interviews, IT Strategy

Interview with Mitch Pirtle: Creating the Polyglot Enterprise

Mitchell Pirtle
Director, Technology Fellows Program, Capital One

Coming to CapitalOne from the startup scene, Mitch has been founding companies and FOSS projects for the past two decades. His entrepreneurial involvement includes Apple, Sun, Sequent (now IBM), ClassMates,com, Starbucks, Microsoft, MTV, Food Networks, Gilt, National Geographic, Sesame Workshop and more. He’s most known on the Open Source side for founding the Joomla! content management system, as well as contributing to MongoDB, Li3 and many other libraries and frameworks. His tech background is that of a true polyglot: Go, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle, MongoDB, Redis, Node.js, and all UNIX variants. In the course of the fintech:CODE event he spoke with us about DevOps and new technologies transforming fintech enterprises and organisations.

About his Case Study at fintech:CODE
Mitch explains the birth and evolution of a tech start-up in the financial sector, learning from successes and failures along the way. Agile methodologies, public cloud infrastructure, and emerging tools and languages abound, creating what is called the Polyglot Enterprise. How to take advantage of this wild new world of technology and finance, and how to integrate innovation into your company’s DNA?

we.CONECT: How are DevOps and new technologies transforming fintech enterprises and organisations?

Mitchell Pirtle: Advances in IT technology and processes have always been intrusive in almost every kind of industry, from retail to telecommunications and many others. The finance industry has been resisting to this trend for long time with low or very slow adaptation of new disruptive technologies, primarily due to the hard limitations imposed by strict regulations and highly sensitive data. However, we have seen a change in the last years in many fintech enterprises partially led by fintech start-ups, which are non- bureaucratic, fast moving, flexible and adaptable. Banks and other financial institutions with a great deal of IT investment have identified the potential of agile methodologies and DevOps in terms of speed to market, customer satisfaction and lean product development. The ones who fail to adapt will soon identify the risk of getting overtaken.

Based on your experience, do you agree with the statement “Failure is part of the innovation process”?

Failure is not part of the innovation process, it is your measuring stick. It is impossible to innovate without stepping outside of your comfort zone, and taking risks to find an unexpected benefit. Any other approach is just research.

From your own viewpoint, what new opportunities are created for start-ups and organisations in the fintech space through emerging tools and agile methodologies?

It is perhaps not as much about the emergence of tools and practices that are the advantage, but about the lack of existing process and structure that needs to be changed to accommodate them. With a start-up you can build your team from the ground up specifically to tackle a particular domain or challenge, whereas with a larger, more established business you will need to deal with existing team structure and business practices, as well as company (and perhaps industry) culture.

There has been a growing buzz about DevOps recently. How can companies take advantage and unleash the full potential of the new digital technologies that we see today?

The larger you are, the more critical it is for you to automate all the things. This is not negotiable; it is an absolute survival skill that is required in today’s environment. This ‘forced automation’ produces a ton of very tangible benefits, including better development workflow, more efficiency with deployments, and usually brings a wealth of administration and reporting insight that is much more difficult to produce in a more manually driven approach.

What are your expectations from the presentations and networking sessions at fintech:CODE in London? What outcomes do you expect to gain from the exchange with the participants?

I’m hoping to spark conversation and collaboration with the audience, and to provide a sounding board for ideas, inspiration and further innovation. My goal is to share, teach, and learn.

Thank you for your cooperation and the insights you shared with us!

Interview partners: Nikolaos Kapetanis and Mitchell Pirtle

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