Tag Archives: Culture

The DevOps Revolution

“We transformed from a team of employees to a team of owners”– Jim Stoneham, Opsmatic

In a fascinating interview with Opsmatic’s Jim Stoneham Gene Kim revisits Flickr’s innovative 2009 ’10 deploys per day’ presentation.

Comparing different approaches to tackling the rapidly evolving platforms within Yahoo! Stoneham highlights the benefits of integrated working across departments, taking risks in order to learn and involving everyone, at every level with every element of the deployment process.

Working quickly, deploying frequently and developing on the fly means that teams learn faster from mistakes and are able to remain ahead of competitors, as well as responding intuitively to the needs of their audience. Teams are also more involved in the process – collaborating across departments means that everyone learns more and the product belongs to the team as a whole,  because they are all involved in every element of its creation, deployment and improvement.

Sharing knowledge and experience across teams means huge pools of resources at your fingertips. You can monitor your audience and give them what they are asking for as they need it. Working slowly to avoid risks will just lead to missed opportunities and an overall slower development. Frequent deploys and rapid responses to audience needs are vital:

When you move at that speed, and are looking at the numbers and the results daily, your investment level radically changes. This just can’t happen in teams that release quarterly, and it’s difficult even with monthly cycles.” Jim Stoneham

Check out the full interview; a  genuinely interesting insight into the start of the DevOps revolution.

DevOps: the Way and the Light…

The absolute chaos in the wake of last Friday’s air-traffic control issues at Swanwick seems to have unwittingly shed a light on the failures of archaic large-scale IT systems and highlighted the benefits of a more ‘evolutionary’ approach, as Matt Ridley’s article in The Times eloquently describes it:

GDS…is reshaping the way in which the public sector does big IT projects to make sure cost and time overruns are history.”

Ridley celebrates contemporary approaches to development; implementing change, learning from failure, monitoring and changing continuously to optimise outputs with the user at the focus. In today’s society it is essential for governments to successfully operate large-scale services that are simple to use and which work effectively – as we can see, breakage, at this scale, is disastrous.

Operating continual monitoring, analysis, testing and development on government IT systems means that services are more accessible and less prone to breaking. Improved communication and co-working means that different skillsets are working together; pooling resources to solve problems quickly and to innovate changes as soon as they are required.

This feedback led approach will allow large-scale government systems to develop continuously, fulfilling the needs of the user as they arise and solving problems before they can impact extensively. We are encouraging an environment of communication and integration over silo-led, ‘creationist’ approaches, which have continuously failed in the past.

It is an attitude and a system that is transferrable across a variety of processes; from IT systems development to office management and work ethic. Essentially, DevOps makes the world a happier place…

Leading experts bare all about the DevOps movement

The DevOps movement is rising, and an increasing number of IT professionals are keen to adopt this new way of working in order to achieve optimum collaboration between their Development and Operations departments. The ability to react quickly to customer demands is of top priority to businesses all over the world, and the benefits of DevOps is rapidly becoming widely known as offering fantastic business value.

Rackspace has released an Ebook and infographic, highlighting The DevOps Mindset: Real-World Insights from Tech Leaders to help you realise and implement your own DevOps practices within your organisation.

The Ebook shares valuable insights from practicing DevOps leaders with a key focus on outlining the need for enhanced collaboration, measurement and sharing through all aspects of any business. The DevOps Mindset showcases unique perspectives, challenges and achievements, as well as the catalysts which led them to adopt a DevOps mindset.

By successfully balancing the technical and social side of your development and operational processes you can actively learn and advance much quicker to help achieve your company goals. An unequal development of both sides will result in automation without collaboration and a lack of thought into exactly how your ideas and services will effectively be available to your customers.

DevOps advocate Jim Kimball, Chief Technology Officer at HedgeServ says: “I think the fundamental shift toward DevOps started when we got away from focusing on individual team goals and elevated our conversation to organizational goals and let the teams drive toward them.”

“To achieve true DevOps collaboration, you need your employees to really think and act as one, not just be merged together in name only. By pushing communication from the start, everyone gets a better feel for others’ needs and how they do their jobs.” Said James Kenigsberg, Chief Technology Officer at 2U, Inc.

This awesome Ebook shapes a Q&A format and delves deeper into how this new form of agile collaboration is sweeping its way through the software and IT industries.

You will also be able to take away useful tips for business leaders considering transforming their company culture towards a DevOps methodology.

We think this Ebook from Rackspace is a grade A piece, and an asset to anyone contemplating DevOps or thinking about adopting this innovative way of reaching new levels of productivity.

Recent Rackspace study shows businesses adopting DevOps practices at a remarkable rate

What do you think – is Devops just a fad or is it here to stay? Well, Rackspace recently commissioned independent technology market research specialist Vanson Bourne to conduct this piece of research and answer that very question. 700 global technology decision-makers were surveyed and the study discovered that businesses are now recognising DevOps as an established industry with adoption figures soaring at an extraordinary rate. Companies are now seeing significant business value in implementing DevOps as part of their own everyday practices.

So let’s look at the facts according to the Rackspace DevOps Adoption Study

What was previously recognised as a niche domain and implemented by only a select few, is now seeing widespread adoption and considerably transforming the way IT is viewed across a huge range of industries.

61% of those surveyed, highlighted customer satisfaction as the key incentive for DevOps adoption, enabling businesses to deliver better value to their customers through technology, and improve inefficiency to reduce delivery time to the customer.

While utilising DevOps practices and setting clear business goals at the beginning of every project, 57% saw an increased customer conversion or satisfaction rate.

The official Adoption Study infographic highlights 66% of respondents have already implemented DevOps practices, and 79% of those who have not, plan to do so by the end of 2015.

It is clear DevOps is increasingly being recognised as delivering real business value. A massive 93% reported setting clear end goals for their DevOps initiatives, showing a definite focus on significantly improving customer satisfaction for a long-term positive impact on the business as a whole.

In a nutshell – DevOps allows businesses to consider the ways in which they organise and structure their company to initiate better ways of working. It creates opportunities for businesses to deliver better experiences to their customers faster, broaden the range of services they offer and better serve their business by using data more proactively.

A big thank you to the Rackspace Adoption Study for these incredible figures. It’s fantastic to see this industry expanding so rapidly, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds in this space.

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!

Why companies are investing in DevOps and Continuous Delivery

A thought-provoking infographic – with some interesting data points – shows how companies are reaping real rewards from investing in agile software delivery processes. Check out the graphic – from Zend – for more on how DevOps and Continuous Delivery are bridging the speed and innovation gap between business demand and IT.

Continuous Delivery Infographic by Zend Technologies.

Continuous Delivery Infographic

DevOps and the Product Owner

In a previous post we talked a lot about the “Product-centric” approach to DevOps but what does this mean for the role of the Agile “Product Owner”?

So what is the traditional role of the Product Owner? Agile author Mike Cohn from MountainGoat Software defines it thus:

“The Scrum product owner is typically a project’s key stakeholder. Part of the product owner responsibilities is to have a vision of what he or she wishes to build, and convey that vision to the scrum team. This is key to successfully starting any agile software development project. The agile product owner does this in part through the product backlog, which is a prioritized features list for the product.

The product owner is commonly a lead user of the system or someone from marketing, product management or anyone with a solid understanding of users, the market place, the competition and of future trends for the domain or type of system being developed” – Mike Cohn

The definition above is very “project-centric” – the Product Owner’s role appears to be tied to the existence and duration of the project and their focus is on the delivery of “features”.

DevOps, conversely, asks us (in the “First Way of DevOps”) to use “Systems Thinking” and focus on the bigger picture (not just “feature-itis”) and the “Product-centric” approach says we need to focus on the entire lifecycle of the product, not just the delivery of a project/feature/phase.

Whilst decomposing the “big picture” into “features” is something we completely agree with, as features should be the “unit of work” for your Scrum teams or “Agile Software Development Factory”, it needs to be within the context of the Product Lifecycle (and the “feature roadmap”).

So the key shift here then is to start talking about the “Product Lifecycle Owner”, not just the Product Owner, and ensure that Systems Thinking is a critical skill for that role.

The second big shift with DevOps is that “Non-Functional Requirements” proposed by Operations as being critical to the manageability and stability of the product across its full lifecycle “from inception to retirement” must be seen as equally important as the functional requirements proposed by the traditional Product Owner role.

In fact, we’d like to ban the term “Non-Functional Requirements” (NFR’s) completely, as the name itself seems to carry an inherent “negativity” that we feel contributes to the lack of importance placed on NFR’s in many organisations.

We propose the term “Operational Requirements” (OR’s) as we feel that this conveys the correct “product lifecycle-centric” message about why these requirements are in the specification – “This is what we need to run and operate this product in Production across the product’s lifecycle in order to maximise the product’s likelihood of meeting the business objects set for it”.

We propose the term “Operational Requirements” (OR’s) as we feel that this conveys the correct “product lifecycle-centric” message about why these requirements are in the specification.

For the slightly more pessimistic or combative amongst you the “OR” in Operational Requirements can stand for “OR this doesn’t get deployed into Production…” .

The unresolved question is do we need an “Operational Product Owner” or does the role of the traditional, business-focussed Product Owner extend to encompass the operational requirements?

You could argue that the “Operational Product Owner” already partly exists as the “Service Delivery Manager” (SDM) within the ITIL framework but SDM’s rarely get involved in the software development lifecycle as they are focussed on the “delivery” part at the end of the SDLC. Their role could be extended to include driving Operational Requirements into the SDLC as part of the continual service improvement (CSI) process however.

That said, having two Product Owners might be problematic and confusing from the Agile development team perspective so it would probably be preferable if the traditional Business product owner was also responsible for the operational requirements as well as the functional requirements. This may require the Product Owner to have a significantly deeper understanding of technology and operations than previously otherwise trying to understand why “loosely-coupled session state management” is important to “horizontal scalability” might result in some blank faces!

So in summary a “DevOps Product Owner” needs to:

  • Embrace “System Thinking” and focus on the “Product Lifecycle” not just projects or features
  • Understand the “Operational Requirements” (and just say “No to NFR’s”!)
  • Ensure that the “OR’s” are seen as important as the “Functional Requirements” in the Product roadmap and champion their implementation

In future posts we’ll examine the impact of DevOps on other key roles in the SDLC & Operations. We’ve love to get your opinions in the comments section below!

-TheOpsMgr

image source: – CC  – CannedTuna via Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/cannedtuna/7348317140/sizes/m/