Last week the Veteran Affairs Assistant Secretary and Chief Information Officer, James Gfrerer, brought his top IT executives to Silicon Valley — and Insight Partners was honored to support this important trip.
In the past, I’ve been honored to visit with DoD and Federal Civilian CIO delegations, and similarly, this was a productive meeting of passionate entrepreneurs and technologists with dedicated public servants.
Federal CIO delegations visit Silicon Valley (or Boston or New York) for many reasons — to meet with large tech companies, learn from fast-growing start-ups and scale-ups, and see interesting technology demos at universities. The VA CIO trip was no different, where they visited with Kleiner Perkins, the VA Medical Center in Palo Alto, Apple, Intel, Google, Github, Slack, Kaiser-Permanente and more. On behalf of Insight Partners, I was excited to pull together a few leading companies from our portfolio to participate in their learning and listening tour.
With five Insight portfolio companies, we spent the afternoon brainstorming, talking about how our companies build quality software efficiently, how they organize and motivate their IT workforce, and how they deliver on customer service — which happens to be the number one priority of VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
- Kate MacAleavey and Isaac Mosquera, the head of culture and CTO at Armory, led the VA delegation through a design exercise exploring VA culture — including brainstorming how to knock down impediments to faster delivery. (Armory is commercializing Spinnaker, the open-source continuous deployment tool built by Netflix and Google — so developers are empowered to deploy code with safety, resilience, velocity, and compliance to any production target on-premise or in the cloud.)
- Wes Novack, Head of DevOps from Pluralsight, explained how Pluralsight engineering has created product teams that can work autonomously and loosely coupled from each other, reducing dependencies on other teams and thus increasing the speed of product innovation. Wes also discussed the Security culture at Pluralsight and key aspects of their DevSecOps program (Pluralsight is the leading IT and developer skills platform.)
- Sandeep Johri, the CEO of Tricentis, explained the importance of automating testing in software development, especially as enterprises move to DevOps. Too often, Sandeep explained, application testing is done manually or via brittle scripts, which makes full risk coverage hard and expensive. Sandeep also explained how large enterprises can embrace and extend point open-source testing tools into the Tricentis platform to enable End to End testing. (Tricentis is the #1 Continuous Testing platform company)
- Matt Rose, Global Director of Strategy at Checkmarx, talked about how “shifting left” in application security isn’t always right. While developer training and security remediation make sense to integrate into development, in Matt’s perspective, a lot of the code scanning can best be done at the continuous integration layer. (Checkmark is a leading application security company.)
- Tali Notman, Chief Revenue Officer of JFrog, talked about JFrog’s liquid software vision and her journey from early JFrog employee to being the CRO of a global company with over 6,000 customers. While JFrog is best known for Artifactory (think the “git” of binaries”), the company has developed an end to end software platform to help make software updates “flow” like water.
The VA delegation visiting Insight Partners was led by Principal Deputy CIO Dominic Cussatt. They asked a bunch of hard questions about how the companies were internally organized, what they were seeing with their large enterprise customers, who, like VA, are transforming digitally.
It was exciting to host this VA delegation and get to know these talented OIT leaders. I’m sure I speak for the Insight-backed companies in attendance that we learned a lot about the VA’s digital transformation, their remarkable accomplishments to date and their challenges that lie ahead. We appreciate their efforts to learn firsthand from Silicon Valley innovators how to best buy and build software more efficiently, effectively, and securely — all in pursuit of better serving Veterans.