Monthly Archives: November 2017

DevOps Enterprise Summit 2017 – A summary

DOES17

It’s over again. The annual DevOps family reunion in San Francisco. This year was extra special because I feel I learnt even more than in previous years and because I was able to hand out preview copies of my upcoming book. I am really looking forward to hear from those of you who got a copy what you think. Reach out and let me know. I will talk a little bit about the book in an upcoming blog post.

 

The summit had a lot more variety of topics than previous years (at least the talks I attended), which I found very refreshing. Technology talks, culture talks, security, case studies, agile – so many different perspectives on IT transformation. Congratulations to the program committee for getting such a good mix and balance.

So let’s recap what I have learned from the summit.

Keybank presentation

This was clearly one of my highlights. Hearing from a bank which is using microservices and the Netflix OSS to stabilise environments was great. To then hear they were able to outperform expectations and delivery faster and with increased scope, just shows what is possible when you get this right. Well done team and looking forward to hear more in the upcoming years. They mentioned one really interesting ideas that I will take away from the conference: “It is not a reason not to automate something if you don’t do it frequently. In fact you should automate in those cases as you don’t get a lot of practice at it.” I will remember this.

John Allspaw

Of course the expectations on my side were high when I saw John will speak. And boy did he deliver. A fascinating talk about how we cannot see what we do directly but rather work with models in our head and manipulate it via a keyhole – the screen – to interact with the invisible system. This makes you think. It requires us to move from incidents as motivators for policy – towards incidents as messages of the invisible system to us that we should use to update the mental model. Incidents show where the models are misaligned. This is tricky to operationalise and speaks to us as individuals.

We should then look at incidents as unplanned investments where the cost is already fixed for us – so how do we maximise the ROI on it? Commonly Post Mortems value the actions items at the end, but more important is the updated mental model we should have at the end. Questions to ask beyond “What went wrong?” and “How did it break?” We should talk about what made it not nearly as bad is could have been. And how can we continue to learn about the invisible systems. This talk created a lot of conversation over drinks. Mind Blown!

Scott Prugh and Erica Morrison from CSG

The continuation of the CSG story which is familiar to many of us. Good to hear they continue to challenge the status quo and push forward. The metric of the conference was “how much sleep do I get when we make changes” which moved from very little to a lot. It also showed the need to shift from a more dev focused devops to a more ops focused or balanced view and what it does to the incidents in production. And of course we might never forget Scott with a sledgehammer destroying mode 1 once and for all…

Columbia’s Scott Nasello

A story of just getting on with it and doing the right thing to improve the situation. Not a transformation with funding etc. A good reminder of what can be done if you really want to do something. The stories around Configuration management as foundation to everything – from emailing scripts to proper SCM – sound very close to some of the things I have experienced. And then the innovative approach of swapping people out regularly to create that constant beginner mindset that allows you to question things and to learn new things. Really interesting approach.

And of course the coolest random fact: It takes only 29 dominoes to take down the empire state building. Yes really!

Damon Edwards

I liked this presentation just like all the other ones that Damon has done. A good reminder that Ops is more than deployments and pipelines. I liked the insight that ticket driven queues are a sign for silos in your org. And that tickets should be for exceptions not for actual work. He went on to define Ops as a service – definition of automated procedure, execution of it and governance – which is a framework I will surely use in the future. Thanks Damon.

Amazon

This was a good industry story of the need for immediacy and how this will continue to increase. They had to learn how to integrate across multiple teams and how you need have teams that look after the end to end business service. I also learned a new word: “hyperconvenience”

Disney – Jason Cox

Phew – Finally I could attend a full talk from Jason – yay! Of course the videos were awesome and a Star Wars trailer always gets my full attention. I could very much relate to the analogy of “corporate” services perceived as the empire. Even though all you want to do is help the team and how they had to overcome this perception. I also really liked the technology rotation program for managers to continually challenge the status quo and build empathy across the business. And of course I wish I could call my training program “Jedi Engineering Training Academy” – best name ever for a training program 😉

Pivotal – Cornelia Davis

Really good semi technical talk about cloud native applications – I will definitely will buy her book. She spoke about:

  • Dynamic load balancing
  • Statelessness in the architecture
  • Application lifecycle – events have rippling effects – you need to ping and deal with it automatically
  • Versioned services and deployment in parallel not replacement of services
  • Dynamically updated router for service discovery or a dedicated server to manage it
  • Data APIs and caching is important to decouple from database
  • Or a database per microservice and event driven data propagation, commonly using kafka as unified log and universal source of truth

Nicole Forsgren

The queen of DevOps data did not disappoint. Nicole went through 4 years of learnings. Most importantly how throughput and stability move together and are not a tradeoff.

That you should use MTTR, lead time to change and deployment frequency as good measure to understand improvements. And that when you improve DevOps performances it is likely to improve organisational performance. Nicole also shares my scepticism about maturity models which are aging too fast due to changes in capabilities. I think they can still be useful in the right hands, but one has to be careful. In a room full of techies she challenged us with “Tech plus”: It takes  IT combined with other things to make companies successful.

Her litmus test for DevOps success: “can you deploy on demand, independently and during business hours?” And if you don’t know where to start, take her advice and look at  Architecture, Continuous Integration and a lightweight change approval process as good starting points

 

Unfortunately I could not attend the third day of the conference, but I will surely catchup on the videos later. I will certainly be back next year and look forward to hear what everyone else learned this year.

Thanks Gene, Thanks organising team, thanks DevOps family – looking forward to see all you brothers, sisters and cousins at the next family gathering with Papa Gene 😉

Paternity Post #0 – Getting ready

You might have wondered why there have been so few updates recently on my blog. The answer is twofold a) my creative juices have gone into finishing off my book (DevOps for the Modern Enterprise) and b) earlier this year my son was born, which is the best possible reason to spend less time in front of the PC. As things are settling down I will start to write more frequently again, which brings me to today’s post: I have decided to write some blogs about my upcoming paternity leave, so you will see some less technical posts in between technical posts.

The reason I decided to do this is to encourage more fathers to take paternity leave and get them some honest first hand descriptions on how it plays out. I have learned over the last few months that many fathers have not taken paternity leave for many different reasons: career, company policies, being unsure what to expect as full time dad. So I decided to write about my experience.

I am about two weeks away from taking around three months off as full time dad. My son is 9 months old and he is a handful. I have heaps of respect for the work that my wife is doing to keep him on a schedule and look after him. The long nights of getting him back to sleep and looking after him during the days sound tough…soon I will know first hand how it is, something that so far has been limited to weekends when I don’t have to work.

You might wonder whether I am worried about what will happen at work when I am gone for such a long time and the truthful answer is “a little”. Of course there is that little voice in my head telling me that lots of important things will happen while I am gone and that I should really be there for it. But then I think of my incredible team that will cover for me when I am off and I know they will do a fantastic job. Over the last few months they already picked up a lot of the scope of work that I would usually deal with and have done great. My bosses are extremely supportive of me taking my paternity time and understand that things will be a little bit different for a period of time.

Until recently I thought that work (and potential career impacts) are the only things to worry about, but then I started to hear from mums and dads on how tough it can be to be the full time parent, the days where you only speak “baby language” and miss a meaningful conversation. The days when all hell breaks loose and you struggle to keep the baby fed and clean. The days when finding the time for a shower and a warm meal is a real challenge. The days when you had hardly any sleep and the little one wants his normal routine while you can hardly keep your eyes open. Phew…

Perhaps this gig is going to be tougher than I thought…but then I look at the little man and see him smile and I know I will enjoy the time no matter how hard it might be. Work will go on and I am sure I will catch-up when I am back. My team will do great and I will see my little man grow over the last 3 months of his first year in this world. I will keep you all posted how my paternity leave is playing out with regular blog posts.