As Head of Cloud Operations for professional services company KPMG UK, Chris Astley is on the front lines of helping businesses transition to a cloud-based infrastructure and a DevOps approach. And Chris will be sharing his unique, first-hand perspective at New Relic’s FutureStack London event on May 24, 2017—with a presentation on “DevOps in the Enterprise.” (Register here now, before we sell out!)

Chris joined KPMG in September 2014 as a Solutions Architect, and has been in his current position since June 2015. When he’s not helping KPMG clients embrace the future with DevOps, Chris spends time with his family—including his 14-month-old daughter—and “far too much time reading The Register,” he says.

To get a sense of the insights Chris will talk about at FutureStack London, the UK edition of our flagship user conference, we asked him about his background and the technologies he’s most excited about.

New Relic: How did you come to KPMG and the software industry, and then wind up becoming a leader in DevOps?

Chris Astley: I worked for a startup doing vehicle telematics for about nine years straight out of university, which gave me the opportunity to grow really rapidly. I started out as one of only two developers in the company, got all the battle scars from having our own datacenter, migrated the whole stack to the cloud, and wound up with a team of 30 to look after.

Chris Astley, Head of Cloud Operations at KPMG UK

Then about three years ago, I wanted something completely new, and KPMG was where I landed. From there it was all about proving DevOps works—one project quickly became more than a hundred, and we’ve never looked back!

New Relic: What’s your take on the “future stack” architecture underpinning modern software and delivery of digital customer experiences?

Chris: I take a significant personal interest in modern software delivery and architectures and try and advise our clients and our internal delivery teams on best practices and the benefits. During a recent presentation at a global bank, I showed one of our standard Infrastructure-as-a-Service/Platform-as-a-Service (IaaS/PaaS) patterns in Amazon Web Services, and someone in the audience asked me why we didn’t have any containers in the stack. I personally feel that containers are the pinnacle—and therefore the end—of the old way of managing things. You still have “servers” (conceptually at least), even if consistency is improved, but the future is serverless. Hand off all of that work to the major cloud providers and get on with the important bit: writing awesome code and delivering great services.

New Relic: What role does DevOps play here?

Chris: DevOps is vitally important for any company that leverages technology—in other words, every company! While the obvious benefits are speed to market, agility, and reduced costs, I find other benefits even more interesting. Staff wellbeing, for instance: companies find that by adopting DevOps and the culture that goes along with it, they reduce the churn of IT employees and raise their engagement and general happiness. I think it’s a defining culture change of our time in IT organisations. 

New Relic: The theme of FutureStack this year is “Digital Intelligence At Cloud Scale.” What does that mean to you?

Chris: This comes back to one of my favorite themes: automation. In today’s world, we have so much data to deal with that we need to store and process it intelligently, consistently, and automatically. By leveraging great tools like New Relic, you can automate responses to events that previously would have required raising tickets, first-line support triage, investigations by the wrong engineers, finally finding the one guy who knows why something failed, and getting them to fix it but failing to understand what happened in the first place. Using intelligent solutions at cloud scale necessitates this level of automation to avoid having armies of people responding to every incident.

New Relic: We’re excited to be holding FutureStack in London for the second year in a row. Where do you see UK enterprises in the journey toward digital intelligence?

Chris: I think the UK is one of the fastest places for innovation and transformation in the world. I see huge global banks every week with posters on the walls talking about DevOps, a regulatory environment embracing concepts like public cloud, and a government investing in tech startups.

New Relic: That’s very exciting… What are your personal goals for the future?

Chris: My personal goal is to help people move to the cloud—and fast. I can’t see why anybody would invest their capital in servers, cables, and racks with the fantastic products and services available right now.

New Relic: We couldn’t agree more. What are you personally most looking forward to at FutureStack London?

Chris: Is it wrong to say the drinks and networking at the end?

New Relic: Of course not. That’s one of our favorite parts, too!


Don’t miss Chris Astley and the rest of the stellar lineup of speakers, training, and networking at FutureStack London at Kings Place, on May 24, 2017. Register now, before we sell out!

Follow @futurestack and the #futurestack hashtag on Twitter to stay updated.

Check out a recap from last year’s FutureStack: London event.


Note: Event dates, speakers, and schedules are subject to change without notice.'

Jake Widman is a San Francisco-based freelance technology and science writer, covering everything from big data to quantum physics. He's a regular contributor to Computerworld,, and Photoshop User. View posts by .

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