Category Archives: DevOps

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#DevOps – defining Devops – it’s a Recipe not a Blueprint

There have been some great posts recently regarding the difficulting in defining DevOps e.g https://www.jumpcloud.com/what-is-devops-blog/ and following on from that http://www.scriptrock.com/blog/the-problem-with-defining-devops.

My view is that some of the confusion, and the multiplicity of opinions about what DevOps is, comes about because people are using the wrong cognitive frame when looking at DevOps, and maybe a bit of re-framing is in order.

Firstly, a bit of background. In The Blind Watchmaker (1986, pp. 295-296) Richard Dawkins explains that DNA is like a recipe, not a blueprint. You can’t take a slice of cake and then pull up the “cake engineering blueprint” and point to the section that specifies that part of the cake (as opposed to comparing a car or plane part to a blueprint, for example). You have a recipe… but there isn’t a one-to-one correspondence between the recipe and the cake.

“A recipe in a cookery book is not, in any sense, a blueprint for the cake that will finally emerge from the oven…. a recipe is not a scale model, not a description of a finished cake, not in any sense a point-for-point representation. It is a set of instructions which, if obeyed in the right order, will result in a cake…

The genes, taken together, can be seen as a set of instructions for carrying out a process, just as the words of a recipe, taken together, are a set of instructions for carrying out a process.” – Richard Dawkins

DevOps is a recipe, not a blueprint. And it’s a recipe that still evolving to meet the needs of different organisations, in the same way that bread recipes have evolved to meet different cultural and personal preferences.

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There are 4 basic ingredients in any bread recipe – water, flour, yeast, salt – and there are core techniques – Kneading, Fermenting, Proofing, Baking etc – but by combining these techniques, adding extra ingredients etc you can have widely different outcomes.

Ingredients Techniques
Flour Mixing
Water Fermenting
Yeast Punching
Salt Dividing
Butter Rounding
Eggs Kneading
Milk Panning
Sugar Proofing
  Baking

 

Similarly, DevOps has some core ingredients and techniques (I’ve listed a few in the table below but I am sure you might want to add your own) but how you choose to combine them and what extra ingredients you add will determine if you end up with a crusty white cob, a baguette or a ciabatta.

Ingredients Techniques
“Infrastructure as Code” Agile
Continuous Integration Kanban
Continuous Delivery Lean
Application Performance Management Theory of Constraints
Virtual/Cloud Hosting Systems Thinking

 

But they are all “DevOps” in the same way that all the loaves in the image above are all bread – they share common ingredients, common techniques – but the exact recipe you follow and the end result depending on your organisational needs and preferences.

-TheOpsMgr

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DevOps gets gamified – literally!

If you didn’t think that DevOps could reach the parts, other methodologies cannot reach – then think again.

We recently discovered Release! – a fun kickstarter project created by Alex Papadimouli – which is a card game about making software inspired by development strategies like Lean, Agile, and DevOps, and classic trick taking card games.

According to the beta rules, “The game is simple: manage cooperation and competition with other players across 10 hands (or “releases” as we call them) to score the most points. Each release is played the same, but the scoring rules change each time as you reveal new Tools & Methods. Your team needs to continuously respond to these strategic shifts in order to produce the best release possible.”

We love the customised practitioner cards. Release! will feature 12 practitioners who have made significant contributions to the software development community; folks like Patrick Debois, Dan North, and Jez Humble (which has to be our favourite so far!)

photo-practioners

The kickstart project can be found at
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/627324241/release-the-game

Good luck to Alex with this project, we look forward to getting our delivery teams to battle out the best Release process over a beer and a bag of nuts!

Image showing quote from Hardvard Business Review on the need to change how businesses operatte

#DevOps – Start with WHY!

DevOpsGuys presented a short 30 min talk on the “Why” of DevOps last night at the @Magentys Enterprise DevOps event (sponsored by our good friends @Dyn).

The goal of the presentation was to give the attendees some of the reasons why the current models for product development and operations might not be suitable in a rapidly changing, cloud-hosting, mobile enabled world.

One of my favourite quotes from the talk if from a HBR article by John Kotter where he talks about how business needs to change (and not just IT!). We’ll be exploring some of Kotter’s ideas in our #DevOpsMBA series of blog articles over the coming months.

“The hierarchical structures and organizational
processes we have used for decades to run and
improve our enterprises are no longer up to the
task of winning in this faster-moving world” – John Kotter

Image showing quote from Hardvard Business Review on the need to change how businesses operatte
HBR article by John Kotter – Accelerate!

The full slide deck is available below and on Slideshare.

If anyone is interested in having this presented to your teams or management at work to help kick-start your DevOps journey we’re happy to do an “encore performance” on-site (as long as you cover the travel expenses!).

The word flow made out of pebbles

5 useful #Devops lessons about flow you can learn while getting off a plane.

One of our favourite books here at DevOpsGuys is Donald Reinertsen’s “Principles of Product Development Flow”. It’s a compelling argument about the importance of “flow” – small batch sizes, frequent releases, rapid feedback, all the key tenets of continuous delivery and DevOps.

It is, sadly, not the sort of easily consumed management book that might appeal to your ADD-afflicted manager (should you be able to tear his/her attention away from his/her iPhone or iPad).

@TheDevMgr and myself (@TheOpsMgr) were discussing this last week as we landed at Munich airport to attend the @Jetbrains partner conference (we’re huge fans of TeamCity for continuous integration).

As we went thru the process of disembarking from the flight we realised we were in the middle of a real-world analogy for benefits of flow – an analogy that might be readily understandable to those senior managers we mentioned earlier.

Let’s walk thru it.

The plane lands and reaches the stand. Immediately everyone in the aisles seats un-clicks and stands up, congesting the aisle. Once the aisle is congested (=high utilisation) the ability of people to collect luggage from the overhead lockers is significantly reduced – everything becomes less efficient.

At high rates of utilisation of any resource waiting times, thrashing between tasks and the potential for disruption are likely to go up. So that’s Useful lesson #1.

All this activity and jamming of the aisle is, ultimately, futile because no-one is going anywhere until the stairs get there and the cabin doors are opened. This is the next constraint in the pipeline.

Useful lesson #2 – until you understand the constraints you might be just rushing headlong at the next bottleneck.

Eventually they arrive and we all start shuffling off like sheep (or zombies) and walk down the stairs… to the waiting buses on the tarmac.

Useful lesson #3 – if you’re trying to optimise flow you need to look beyond the immediate constraint.

In this, case the cabin door & stairs, and look at the entire system (this is the essential message of systems thinking and the “1st way of DevOps”).

The buses were fairly large and held about 60+ people each (=large batch size), and everyone tries to cram onto the first bus… which then waits until the second bus is full before both buses head across the tarmac. When we reach the terminal the buses park up… and the second bus is actually closer to the door we need to enter.

Useful lesson #4 – don’t assume that the batch size is what you think it is (i.e. 1 bus load). It might be more (2 buses!). Also, just because something looks FIFO doesn’t mean it is…

Once we enter the terminal we then hit another constraint – clearing Immigration control. Luckily we were able to go thru the EU Resident’s queue, which flowed at a fairly constant rate due to the minimal border control. But looking at the non-EU Residents queue that the flow was turbulent – some passengers went thru quickly but others took much longer to process due to their different nationality, visa requirements or whatever had caught the Border Control officer’s attention. Unfortunately, the people who could have been processed faster were stuck in the queue behind the “complex” processing.

Useful lesson #5 – If you can break your “unit of work” down to a relatively standard size the overall flow through the system is likely to improve. This is why most Scrum teams insist that a given user story shouldn’t’ take more than 2-3 days to complete, and if it would it then it should be split up into separate stories until it does.

Luckily we avoided the queue for checked luggage as we only had carry-on and we were able to get in the queue for the taxis instead… so that’s the end of our analogy for now.

So let’s think of some theoretical optimisations to improve the flow.

Firstly, why not only let the people on ONE side of the aisle stand to collect their overhead luggage and prepare to disembark, thereby avoiding the congestion in the aisle? You can then alternate sides until everyone’s off.

Secondly, why not see if you can get a second set of stairs so you can disembark from the forward AND rear cabin doors, and alleviate that bottleneck?

Thirdly, why not have smaller buses, and dispatch them immediately they are full, and thereby reduce the batch size that arrives at Immigration?

Fourthly, why not have more agents at Border Control to alleviate that bottleneck, or create different queue classes to try to optimise flow e.g. EU Residents, “Other countries we vaguely trust and generally wave through” and “countries we generally give a hard time to”. You could even have a special queue for “dodgy looking people from whatever nationality that are about to spend some quality time with a rubber glove”. Or why not create totally new categories like “those we hand luggage” versus “those with checked luggage who are only going to have to wait at the luggage carousel anyway so you might as well wait here anyway”.

These proposed optimisations might be simplistic. For example the reason the two buses leave together is probably because ground traffic at airports is strictly controlled (in fact there is a “ground traffic controller” just the same as an “air traffic controller”). So there are often constraints we might not be aware of until we do more investigation BUT the goal of any DevOps organisation should be to try and identify the constraints, and experiment with different ways to alleviate that constraint. Try something, learn from it, iterate around again.

Hopefully by using a common, real-world analogy for product development flow you’ll be able to convince your Boss to let you apply these principles to your DevOps delivery pipeline and improve flow within your organisation!
Photo credit: aselundblad / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

DevOpsGuy delivers the Awesome

DevOps Cardiff kicks off with a bang!

Awesome turnout and great community involvement at our first DevOps Cardiff meetup on Wednesday night!

The pizza and beers immediately after went down very well… as did the next few rounds at the excellent Urban Tap House (well, when I say a few, we headed back to the hotel, via Wok to Walk, at about 1am. I think).

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@TheDevMgr leads off!

We’re super-excited that a number of people from the Cardiff DevOps community have already put their hand up to talk at future events and if you’ve got something you want to talk about, whether its a 5 min lightning demo to a full 50 min presentation, please contact us.

Thanks also to Dyn for sponsoring and FoundersHub for hosting!

The slides from the night are on Slideshare and embedded below.

DevOps Cardiff Meetup is Launched!

If you want to deliver better software faster, and live in or close to Cardiff, Wales – then this group is for you!

A chance to exchange some of the latest ideas and technologies for implementing Continuous Delivery, Automation and DevOps practices through short presentations by invited speakers, and a chance to chat it after over drinks/snacks with new friends.

This event was created with the intention of uncovering betters ways of interacting between development and operations, by doing it and helping others do it.

Our aims are simple;

1. Demonstrate tools, techniques and practices we use to bridge the gap between software development and IT groups they rely upon.

2. Facilitate discussion on DevOps successes and challenges.

3. Explore, experiment and learn new and better ways of practicing DevOps.

Come and join us and help create more awesome!

DevOps Cardiff

Cardiff, GB
19 Members

If you're a Developer or Operations person in the Cardiff Area and wanting to deliver better software faster, then this group is for you!A chance to exchange some of the late...

Next Meetup

Inaugural DevOps Meetup

Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 6:30 PM
11 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

#DevOps. Big in Japan. Apparently. The rise of #DevOps

DevOps is “Big in Japan“, apparently, or so it would seem from Google Trends!

I was reading an article on Mashable on “cool Google tools” and decided to have a play on Google Trends researching DevOps versus other trends (namely “Agile Development” and “continuous delivery”).

The graph below shows some interesting trends:

  1. The DevOps search term has exploded since 2010 to almost be as popular search term as “agile development”
  2. The popularity literally nearly went vertical in early 2013
  3. The rise is probably slightly steeper that the rise for “agile development” in the 2005-2006 period but generally shows some similarities in virality (based upon my Mark 1 eyeball interpretation of the graphs, if there are any statisticians out there that can be more accurate feel free!)
  4. “continuous delivery” is a laggard in comparison?
  5. DevOps is most popular in… Japan! (DevOpsGuys blog was actually being translated into Japanese at one point, not sure if that’s still happening or not).

Graph showing rise of DevOps world wide in Google Trends

DevOps is big in Japan?

CALMS Model image

The secret of #DevOps success isn’t in the IT literature (yet)!

Can you find “DevOps Success” by reading only IT literature?

The answer is “mostly No, but a little bit Yes”, for a number of reasons.

The main reason is that many of the blogs, whitepapers and webinars around DevOps are ultimately about technology and toolchains. Whilst they might reference the DevOps C.A.L.M.S model in passing the conversation is generally focussed on the A for Automation and the M for Metrics.

CALMS Model image
Culture Automation Lean Metrics Sharing

The seminal Phoenix Project did talk about organisational culture as did Mandi Wall’s O’Reilly ebook on Building a DevOps Culture.

But what both of those books have in common is that they drew extensively from non-IT business literature.

Goldratt’s “The Goal” & TOC, Systems Thinking, Lean manufacturing, Deming and Kanban being major influences on the Phoenix project, and Mandi’s e-book drawing on business-centric cultural/organisational change literature.

“Searching on the Harvard Business Review website for “cultural change” will get you 60+ publications going back nearly 30 years” – Mandi Walls

“Lean Manufacturing”, “Strategic Alignment”, “Organisational Change”, “Culture”, “Business Transformation” and many other topics have been staples of the MBA curriculum in business schools for many years and there is a wealth of resources available online to explore. Reading beyond the IT literature and exploring the wider business context for your DevOps Transformation will, we believe, significantly increase your chances of getting business buy-in and having a successful outcome to your DevOps change programme.

In order to make this easier for you we (@DevOpsGuys) will be publishing a weekly blog post exploring an area of business literature and how it can be used in DevOps.

We’re call it the #DevOpsMBA :-)

So please subscribe to our blog (link on right), follow us on Twitter or search for the #DevOpsMBA hashtag on Twitter to keep informed!

What does DevOps look like in UK job ads

#DevOps – Organic versus Transformational DevOps

Despite what some people seem to think there is more to DevOps than just Continuous Delivery and Infrastructure Automation with Puppet, Chef or Ansible.

To me, DevOps is “an alternative model for the creation of business value from the software development life-cycle that encompasses a product-centric view across the entire product life-cycle (from inception to retirement) and recognises the value in close collaboration, experimentation and rapid feedback”.

Moving from one model of value creation can either be an organic process or a transformational one – you can “grow into” the new model or you can plan a strategy of change to transform your organisation from one to the other.

It’s in this “Organic DevOps” versus “Transformational DevOps” that I see a growing disconnect between different sectors of the DevOps community, particularly between “DevOps for Start-ups” and “DevOps for Enterprise”.

IMHO, “Start-Ups DevOps” normally follows the “organic DevOps” path – you’re often starting from a relatively “greenfields” approach based on a cloud infrastructure. You probably already have a very close, collaborative culture because there’s only 20 of you anyway and you all work in the same office and you spend 18hrs a day there. Automation is part of your DNA because you’ve never had the staffing levels to do it manually.

“Enterprise DevOps” is normally “Transformational DevOps” – you have large, distributed IT teams that cross geographic locations, time-zones and probably organisational boundaries (due to outsourcing). You have extensive legacy applications and infrastructure estates (JVM 1.4 on Tomcat 5 anyone?) and you’re likely to have well developed Prince2/ITIL/SixSigma delivery models rigidly enforced by a centralised command&control mindset, backed by an army of highly-paid consultant from the Big 5 telling your CEO, CIO and CTO the best way to manage their IT budget.

Moving an enterprise to DevOps via a transformation programme is a very different challenge to introducing DevOps concepts into a receptive start-up and watching them grow organically, and the DevOps community needs to make sure that when it’s evangelising DevOps to the world that it’s aware of the differences and challenges inherent in each approach.

If you want to debate this idea of “Start-up Organic versus Enterprise Transformational DevOps” we’re taking part in a Webinar tonight with the great folks over at ScriptRock that’s focussing on Enterprise DevOps. It’s at 1900 BST,  11:00am PT / 2:00pm ET (60 minutes).

We’d really like to get your thoughts on this by asking a question on the webinar or by leaving a comment below as these concepts are still experimental and, just like DevOps itself, the faster we get feedback and the more we iterate around the concept the stronger it will be!

http://info.scriptrock.com/devops_webinar-2

Enterprise DevOps Webinar
Enterprise DevOps Webinar