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The Man in the Black Shirt

Published: December 13, 2016

Donovan Brown was a new technical seller at Microsoft struggling with a demo when he sent the email that changed his life.

 

“I had completely hosed the VM [virtual machine] I was using,” Brown recalled. He sent a desperate, cold-call email to a technical evangelist for help, which led to an invite for Brown to demo on stage, which led to a meteoric career rise.

Three years later, the once-unknown salesman has become one of Microsoft’s top presenters, with Brown now the senior program manager in charge of the company’s vision for DevOps, an approach to software development that incorporates Agile methodologies. DevOps calls for development and operations teams to step out of their traditional silos and collaborate in a system that emphasizes automation, testing, monitoring and continuous delivery.

 

Many organizations are interested in DevOps for its potential to deliver products faster in evolving markets, but aren’t sure how to build a supply pipeline or adopt new ways of working. A longtime developer who is also passionate about car-racing and air hockey, Brown has risen as a leader at a critical time for the industry, demystifying DevOps for thousands of IT pros around the world.

 

“DevOps is here. It is how you succeed. It is how you beat the competition. Why should you do DevOps? Because your competition already is,” Brown said recently in a demo for developers at Microsoft’s Ignite New Zealand conference. It was one of his many high-profile appearances in 2016, which included keynotes at Microsoft’s enormous Build and Ignite events.

 

Along the way, Brown has become known for his quirky personal brand as a gifted public speaker who also has killer technical chops. His winking catchphrase, “I’m going to rub a little DevOps on it and make it better,” has spawned the memorable hashtag #RubDevOpsOnIt. He has become so recognized in dev circles that he’s now known as “The Man in the Black Shirt,” a reference to the polos he wears on stage.

 

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