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Yoad Fekete Of Myrror Security: Five Essential Components Of A Successful DevOps Team

An Interview With Rachel Kline

Build Fast and Feedback Quickly: Keep build times short to provide fast feedback to developers. Optimize build scripts, dependencies, and infrastructure to minimize build times and enable rapid iteration.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, DevOps has emerged as an essential philosophy, bridging the gap between software development and IT operations. A successful DevOps team not only speeds up the delivery process but ensures quality and reliability. However, creating such a team requires a harmonious amalgamation of tools, culture, processes, collaboration, and more. What are the critical components of a top-notch DevOps team, and how can organizations integrate them for optimum results? As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Yoad Fekete, CEO and Co-Founder of Myrror Security.

Yoad Fekete is the CEO and Co-Founder of Myrror Security. He was part of Microsoft’s incident response team for the SolarWinds attack and witnessed firsthand the effects of the hack on the company. Yoad started to look for a solution to address future attacks of this kind. However, he came up empty-handed, spending a lot of time chasing ghosts and fixing security holes that weren’t exploitable.

Alongside his friend and colleague, Roman Kublin, Yoad founded Myrror Security to protect organizations from these rising threats and stop such attacks before they reach products and their customers, without changing any of the engineering processes or engineering behavior. Yoad wanted to build a company that flags only relevant and important problems, helping security teams be better equipped to deal with security threats.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your personal backstory with us?

My name is Yoad Fekete, and I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Myrror Security, which is a next-generation Software Supply Chain Security provider for open-source packages. My career in cybersecurity began about 13 years ago and since then I have worked across various sectors, including corporate, startup, and government environments, on designing, building, and securing complex on-premise and cloud infrastructure projects. I’m really passionate about all things IT security, DevOps, and DevSecOps.

I’m also a big music-lover and musician, and I actually relocated to LA with my band about 10 years ago hoping to start a music career in the States. When I realized that it wasn’t going to work out for us, I moved back to Israel after a couple of years. Now I’m more of a ‘hobbyist’ musician.

My entrepreneurial/founder story goes back to 2021. I was working at Microsoft, leading a group of DevOps engineers. Microsoft was one of the many organizations affected by the infamous SolarWinds attack, and my group was part of the incident response team — so I witnessed the effects of the hack on Microsoft firsthand. After that, we discovered that if a similar attack was launched, directly targeting Microsoft or its open-source dependencies, we would not be protected, and I started looking for an existing solution to address future attacks of this kind, but I came up empty-handed.

That’s when my friend and colleague Roman Kublin and I founded Myrror Security — we realized that there was a gap in the market. With Myrror, we decided to build a solution that could protect organizations from these rising threats and stop such attacks before they reach products and their customers, without changing any of the engineering processes or engineering behavior. We wanted to build a company that flags only relevant and important problems, helping security teams be better equipped to deal with security threats. And that’s where we are today!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

That’s a tough one.

First off, I have to mention my wife, Roni. She has always been so supportive of everything that I’ve done — from moving to LA with my band to starting my own startup, she has been there and supported me through it all, and I’m really grateful to her for that.

Another person I’m particularly grateful for is my good friend Ron, who was my roommate for about 7 years. He’s been a huge inspiration to me in both my personal life and my career for a number of reasons, but particularly because of his amazing attitude to life. Ron was actually badly wounded during his military service in 2006 and he was paralyzed from the waist down, and yet he doesn’t let that stop him from living life. He’s taught me a lot about proportionality, and whenever I feel like I’m struggling with something, or I think that I’m in crisis, Ron has been there to guide me through it and remind me that things aren’t as bad as they might seem in the moment. He’s really shown me that anything is achievable when you don’t give up and helped me to shift my perspective. He’s a real inspiration to me, and if it weren’t for Ron and Roni, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Can you share with us three strengths, skills, or characteristics that helped you to reach this place in your career? How can others actively build these areas within themselves?

Firstly, having thick skin is essential, otherwise, it’s hard to stay in the game — particularly as a founder. Having thick skin allows me to weather criticism and setbacks and not let them affect me or give up.

Similarly, persistence and perseverance have been key. Founding a company is a long-term investment ─ it’s not just a one- or two-year push and it comes with lots of ups and downs. As a founder and business owner, I am in this for the long haul — if I want to succeed and grow my company, I need to be able to endure through the challenging times and keep working towards my goals.

Finally, one of the most important characteristics that I believe has helped me get to where I am in my career — and which I think every leader must possess — is empathy. As a founder, and especially as a CEO, you must work and interact with a lot of different people every day. You need to be able to put yourself in their shoes, understand their perspectives, and show your humanity. I think it is essential to continually strive to understand the other side; even though you have a business you need to run, and you have your own problems to deal with, you need to make sure your employees feel supported and that they are content with their career and personal growth.

To build these qualities as a leader, I think the most important thing to focus on is letting go of your ego and embracing collaboration. I’m not a parent myself, so I can’t speak from personal experience there, but all the parents I know speak about how having a child requires you to take ego out of the equation so you can care for this whole other person you’ve created and put their needs first — which could also mean asking for help and leaning on others. I think the same must go for business leaders and anyone managing people.

These skills and characteristics take time and practice, so I also think it’s important to be continuously trying to learn and self-improve. In my experience, reading books, or listening to audiobooks and podcasts, can be really helpful to get new perspectives and ideas to help you grow and improve these areas.

Which skills are you still trying to grow now?

Since becoming a founder and a CEO, I’ve realized I need to be better at saying ‘no’ and being assertive, so that’s something I’ve been working on — to set boundaries within the company and prioritize people and commitments effectively. I think this is an important skill to master as a CEO because you need to have a balance — to be empathetic and understanding, but also make sure you’re seen and respected as an authority figure.

I’m also trying to hone and enhance my sales skills and become more sales-oriented in terms of being able to better promote and market my company, and myself. I pride myself on being honest and transparent, which is not to say being a good salesperson requires dishonesty, but there’s a skill to being able to tell your story in a nuanced way that aligns both parties’ interests — what you want to say and what the other person wants/needs to hear. This is something I’m still learning how to do effectively.

Let’s talk about having a successful DevOps team. What are the key goals a DevOps team might identify for a digital transformation journey?

There’re a few key goals that come to mind for me. The first is around comprehensive planning — teams need to do thorough planning before starting any project to understand not just the technical aspects, but the build environment and the product they are working on as well. Even more important is to make sure that teams really understand the business needs and where their work fits into the bigger picture. Having this understanding from day one will help ensure that the team won’t need to go back in to fix defects or make big changes to the architecture and how they deal with customers months down the line and will make their digital transformation smoother from the start.

Second is effective collaboration. While teams are made up of individual contributors, having a ‘lone wolf’ on the team who doesn’t engage and work well with others can eventually become problematic — no matter how good their work is. These people tend to want to work fast but if the team isn’t in sync and constantly checking in on each other then collisions happen where things overlap, and conflicts arise and the work you’re doing suffers. DevOps team leaders must encourage collaboration and empathy within the team to build a culture of trust and promote a supportive environment that’ll make any transformation journey painless.

Finally, it’s important for DevOps teams to not only stay on top of technology and trends but to use and implement technology in a practical way. There’s a growing trend where organizations are using technology for technology’s sake — throwing in AI, for example, where it’s not needed or not beneficial to the product or its end-users. For DevOps teams to successfully navigate digital transformation, they need to make sure that the technology they’re incorporating is necessary and actually beneficial to customers and serves clear business objectives.

Are there any challenges or common pitfalls that DevOps teams should consider?

As I mentioned previously, a major pitfall to consider today is the impulse to adopt and incorporate technology without a clear business justification to do so — using advanced technology for the sake of technology when it serves no real business value can be detrimental to growth and efficiency.

Another primary challenge is ensuring that you are working in a way that allows for continuous improvement and responsiveness to feedback down the road. This requires a data-driven approach and goes back to my point on planning. Having robust and comprehensive monitoring and measurement practices of everything the DevOps team is doing, and has done, is crucial to be able to gather actionable data and insights and determine that the actions taken are effective — both technically and non-technically. Without the ability to measure and obtain insights, it’s challenging to improve, understand potential problems, and find and fix issues identified by end-users.

How can effective collaboration and communication among team members enhance the productivity and success of a DevOps team, and what practices can facilitate this?

Effective collaboration and communication are essential for a highly functional and productive DevOps team but there are simple but effective practices to ensure this. This begins with the manager and the work culture and team dynamics they inspire.

In any team, each individual member is constantly trying to stand out and prove their worth — no matter how well they work within the team environment. Managers need to not only ensure that they properly manage the ‘lone wolves’’ in their teams to ensure effective collaboration and minimize conflict, but also distribute the work and their attention evenly. Effective managers will ensure they are providing equal treatment, opportunity, and recognition across the team and that no one member is being favored or worse, overlooked. If there are particularly interesting or engaging tasks to be done, make sure these are being distributed evenly and that no single member is constantly being left with administrative or less engaging work. This will go a long way to fostering a healthy team culture and keeping morale high.

Additionally, you can’t underestimate the benefits of developing appropriate close personal connections among team members in the workplace. Managers should make the effort to go beyond just work and get to know their team members on a personal level (and encourage the team to do the same) — showing genuine interest in their lives and that you care for them beyond just their work contributions fosters trust and can create a more cohesive and supportive environment. You can do this by scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with team members, participating in team activities outside of work, and frequently checking in with team members to understand what everyone is working on, how they are coping, and see if anyone needs help.

What role does CI/CD play in DevOps, and what are the best practices for implementing CI/CD pipelines to ensure a seamless and reliable software release process?

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) play a critical role in DevOps by automating the processes involved in delivering software, from code integration to deployment. CI/CD practices enable teams to release software quickly, reliably, and frequently, thereby accelerating the delivery of new features and enhancements while maintaining high quality. Here are some best practices for implementing CI/CD pipelines:

1. Automate Everything: Automate as many aspects of the software delivery process as possible, including code compilation, testing, deployment, and rollback procedures. Automation reduces manual errors, accelerates delivery, and ensures consistency across environments.

2. “Everything As Code”: Don’t do anything on the UI 🙂! Create everything from pipelines to infrastructure and monitoring — as code. Even on the CD level, you can do it on pipelines, or in the GitOps way, as long as you don’t do anything that can’t be easily replicated.

3. Build Fast and Feedback Quickly: Keep build times short to provide fast feedback to developers. Optimize build scripts, dependencies, and infrastructure to minimize build times and enable rapid iteration.

4. Implement Comprehensive Testing: Integrate automated testing into CI/CD pipelines to validate code changes thoroughly. This includes unit tests, integration tests, regression tests, and other types of end-to-end testing relevant to your application.

5. Ensure Environment Consistency: Maintain consistency between development, testing, staging, and production environments to minimize deployment-related issues. Use infrastructure as code (IaC) tools like Terraform or AWS CloudFormation to provision and configure environments in a reproducible manner.

How does fostering a DevOps culture and mindset contribute to the overall success of a DevOps team, and what strategies can organizations use to promote this culture among their development and operations teams?

A well-fostered DevOps culture and mindset is beneficial not only to the team itself and their productivity, but to the engineering lifecycle as a whole, making it vital to the team’s and business’ success.

To promote this culture, organizations should leverage automated and reproducible processes that ensure thorough vetting before a software release. This will significantly reduce the likelihood of errors that can arise from manual processes, making software releases more reliable, as well as boost team and business efficiency.

Encouraging a DevOps culture of best practices will also streamline the engineering lifecycle and enable faster, more frequent release of software which can help the business to move quicker and be more agile and responsive to changes.

What are the “5 Essential Components of a Successful DevOps Team”?

You’ll see me repeating some things from the previous questions because this kind of sums up everything we’ve talked about so far.

1. Collaborative Culture: At the heart of DevOps is a culture of collaboration and communication. Successful teams break down silos between development, operations, and other departments, fostering an environment where team members work together towards shared goals. At Microsoft, we had 7 different DevOps engineers spanning across 7 groups, yet we still managed to share information, create uniformity, and dramatically reduce the amount of work by sharing the artifacts of our labor between us.

2 . Automation: This is the heart of the DevOps work. Everything should be automated, that’s our work, and that is what makes our lives and our Developers’ lives much easier. Built a server once, now you need to duplicate it to three environments? -> Automate it and you’re golden.

3 . CI/CD: Allowing teams to deliver software updates quickly, reliably, and frequently. For example — You hear that on every release, some regression happens because the UI keeps breaking. Suggest automating UI tests as part of the CI Tests, and even better, help implement that! Frustration levels will go down dramatically.

4 . Effective monitoring: This is essential for maintaining the health and performance of applications and infrastructure in production. DevOps teams leverage monitoring tools to collect metrics, detect issues, and gain insights into system behavior. The simple way to think about that is, oo you want your customer to discover a bug before you do? Or even worse, have the customer suffer from a bad performance experience and churn due to not knowing about it? The answer is a hard NO.

5 . Shared Ownership of Quality and Security: This one I see lacking in many teams, and it’s as important as the other if not more. In a DevOps environment, quality and security are everyone’s responsibility. This involves implementing code reviews, automated testing, and security scans to ensure that software meets quality and security standards at every stage. This requires the manager to emphasize that security is an integral part of the engineering process and not an afterthought. Afterall, a breached business can lose years of integrity and reputation in 1 day.

What emerging trends do you foresee in the landscape of DevOps that could significantly impact digital transformation strategies in the future?

The DevOps landscape is continuously evolving, with cloud migration and the adoption of CI/CD processes at the forefront of the emerging trends.

When it comes to cloud migration there are advantages and disadvantages — the downside here is that with cloud migration, DevOps practitioners have less insight into underlying operations and infrastructure. However, the benefit is the simplification and enhanced scalability of processes. Mitigating these is vital to navigating digital transformation moving forward.

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) processes are also helping to push digital transformation by making development easier by automating the software release cycle, which in turn speeds up the engineering and development process.

Another trend (or maybe already a standard) is infrastructure as code (IaC). This practice makes the development environment more deterministic and declarative, simplifying the management of infrastructure and giving developers precise control over their environments, which helps to achieve consistency across different environments.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

If I were to inspire a movement, it would champion the values of kindness, communication, and empathy. The essence of this movement would be to encourage individuals to step outside of their own perspectives and look beyond their walls to better understand the effect their words and actions have on others with an objective and compassionate mindset. I believe this approach not only fosters healthier personal and professional relationships but also cultivates a more inclusive and understanding society. Embracing our humanity and being more compassionate towards others, I believe, creates a ripple effect of positive change and will help build a more empathetic world.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Yoad Fekete Of Myrror Security: Five Essential Components Of A Successful DevOps Team was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.