Engineer for the future of Cloud
June 10-13, 2019
San Jose, CA

Teaching old dogs new tricks: Infrastructure as a product

Heather Martin (Discover)
3:50pm4:30pm Thursday, June 13, 2019
Building Cloud Native Systems
Location: LL21 A/B
Average rating: ***..
(3.80, 10 ratings)



Prerequisite knowledge

  • A background in traditional infrastructure delivery
  • Familiarity with infrastructure as code (IaC), the product mind-set, and Agile methodologies

What you'll learn

  • Gain a product mind-set for infrastructure, which equates to delivering solutions that are continuously evolving and focused on providing valuable business outcomes
  • Learn that providing infrastructure automation is not enough
  • Understand that transitioning to an Agile infrastructure is not something you do only once; it requires cultural transformation and change for it to stick
  • See how to release solutions that add value and that align to shared goals and outcomes by delivering infrastructure as a product
  • Understand that change is hard and people will resist, but the outcomes are worth the bruises to get there


The transformative benefits gained in evolving from a project to product mind-set should not only be for the devs. In today’s digital age, it is more important than ever for the infrastructure itself to be fast, fully automated, self-healing, and scalable to meet the ever-changing business demands. The move to the cloud provides these capabilities, but the real transformation is in the people. Infrastructure teams and their traditional silos across the enterprise must transform to measure their people in terms of their collective contributions to a shared goal rather than by their efforts. This value can only be realized by changing from a project to a product mind-set.

Heather Martin walks through the journey that started with automating everything in Discover’s traditional infrastructure through the capabilities of the cloud to a more valuable shift in treating the infrastructure as a product. The shift to a product-centric organization has allowed Discover to move from a less valuable traditional functional model to one that is agile and focused on delivering business outcomes and capabilities that provide real value that can help anticipate customer needs. Heather reveals how invoking a shared responsibility model and absorbing and evolving needed product characteristics allowed the company to move faster and made its platforms and services more resilient and relevant and how this shift allowed the company to gain insight and fast feedback to develop and quickly deliver a better and more meaningful product. Most importantly, now being able to focus people on value-added work, rather than toil, allows increased business agility to give Discover an advantage over its competitors.

The road has had its fair share of bumps and, at times, potholes that almost swallowed the team up. Discover is a company of very tenured technologists that have at times been extremely resistant to change. The technology is easy; it’s the people that are hard, and Heather’s team has the bruises to prove it. So she shares the lessons learned in the hope you won’t make the same mistakes and that you can accelerate your own journey. She provides you with the perspective and guidance to get started, quickly mature, get unstuck, and find yourself delivering infrastructure with more value and intention than ever before.

Photo of Heather Martin

Heather Martin


Heather Martin joined the cloud integration and automation team at Discover in November of 2016. Since then, her passion for cloud computing has grown from optimizing Discover’s private cloud, driving adoption of infrastructure as code to supporting efforts to expand and integrate into AWS. Heather leads an infrastructure as code public meetup and has started an internal meetup within Discover to help the technology organization drive its 2020 technology strategy. Heather has worked in IT for more than 15 years, spanning various infrastructure services roles and most recently expanding into leadership for more than five of them. She has an undergraduate degree in computer science and is currently pursuing her MBA from Lake Forest College. When not sharing her passion for cloud computing, Heather enjoys running and is a site coordinator for Girls on the Run (GOTR) and race director of an annual anti-human trafficking 5K.