Category Archives: DevOps

DevOpsDays does London – 2016

After two years off, this week saw the return of the DevOpsDays London. Since that double header in 2013, when London hosted the event twice – to coincide with the O’Reilly Velocity conference – there have been more than 50 DevOpsDays events globally.

This year’s event was an interesting combination of seasoned DevOps professionals who’ve been on the speaking, engineering or consulting circuit long enough now to be considered “veterans” and a gathering of “green horns” – who were either about to start or just starting their DevOps journey. For many, judging by the show of hands, this was their first DevOpsDays experience.

Against a back drop of a much swisher and larger scale venue than the eclectic St Mary Ward House venue which hosted previous DevOpsDays London – came the wide array talks and open spaces sessions.

Compared by a team from Barclays and Accenture, the opening session came from the wonderful Bridget Kromhout from Pivotal. The tone and content of her presentation, set the scene perfectly as she reflected on some DevOps 101 fundamentals, reinforcing the cultural elements and setting out that DevOps is not just about automation. There was also a clear message to both vendors and consultancies that DevOps is something you have to practice and not something you simply just buy in.

Next came the equally impressive, Joanne Molesky from Thoughtworks. Her insightful talk, from someone who didn’t start life as a hardcore technologist, set out her view on why large organisations are struggling to adopt the organisational change needed to successfully practice DevOps, noting that this change is not mandatory and neither is survival, but that today, the biggest risk faced by all business is not to change anything. Her advice included moving from a project to a product centric focus, and reminding us of Deming’s PDCA model – Joanne asked us to consider that measuring value and learning from failure be key to our DevOps journeys’.

Kris Saxton’s refreshing talk Bi-Model IT and Snake Oil, provided a strong and damming case against adopting the notion that your organisation needs an “us” and “them” approach within IT. His view that Mode 1 – Slow & Steady versus Mode 2 – Agile & Lean, as defined in the Bi-Model view of organisations, not only doesn’t work, but is counterproductive, kills innovation and creates a poisonous culture within organisations. Both the tone and content of his talk were superb and I highly recommend you consider his views carefully, if your organisation is discussing Bi-Model IT today.

photo credit: @bridgetkromhout

Fuelled by caffeine, the audience was next treated to a timely and extremely impressive tech talk, which included one of the slickest demo’s I’ve ever seen delivered at a conference. Casey West from Pivotal delivered his view on a Minimum Viable Platform, complete with an implementation in Cloud Foundry. Casey set out his 6 point Minimum Viable Platform which included;

  • Dynamic DNS, routing and load balancing
  • Backing services broker
  • Infrastructure orchestration
  • Health management, monitoring and recovery
  • Immutable artifacts repository
  • Log aggregation

For lots in the audience, they were finally getting a dose of the DevOps technology they’d come to see after a morning of culture and practice focused presentations and Casey didn’t fail to deliver.

Thiago Almeida, Tech evangelist at Microsoft, took the last formal presentation slot of the morning, with the very impressive story of DevOps transformation at Microsoft and some lessons learnt from collapsing silo’d development, test and operations people into cross-discipline, self-managing features teams. As part of the new focus, he highlighted how feature teams have become obsessed with understanding customers and the benefits this has brought in delivery high value solutions. What’s impressive in this story, is not simply the scale of what Microsoft have done, but more the speed at which they have managed to achieve their DevOps transformation.

photo credit: @ClaireAgutter

One of the big takeaways from this talk, was how DevOps had delivered a better work/life balance and this was highlighted in the #Microsoft staff survey. Burn out, is such an important and under discussed subject in our industry that is was great to see a major enterprise organisation highlighting the importance of finding better ways of working.

The morning session was concluded with a set of well delivered Ignites, Claire Agutter covering DevOps & ITSM, Ben Wootton describing Vendor vs Partner relationships in DevOps, and finally the highlight – “four things I learnt about DevOps when my car was engulfed by flames” by John Clapham. John’s entertaining talk did have a very serious undertone of lessons learnt with a key message being “Don’t just plan for disaster. Expect it. Plan for it.” Wise words.

After lunch, DevOpsDays familiar open spaces sessions took place. The diversity of talks offered didn’t fail to disappoint, and there was certainly something to appeal to technical and non-technical alike. Although the large conference space didn’t well suit open spaces, the organising team did a decent job of adapting the venue to suit, however it proved difficult for these sessions to really get flowing, partly because of the noise in the room from conflicting sessions and partly as some sessions had more than 50 people. Having said that, the participation in the talks was faultless and the content was great, even if some did struggle to understand that sessions start when they start, end when they end and can deviate from the original topic. Community events do require some moderation, but sometimes it’s difficult for some to adapt to the free form nature of these sessions, which allows discussion to ebb and flow. It was therefore a slight shame, that the formality of presentations was again introduced in the afternoon, but Justin Cormack did a good job of bringing security to the forefront, maybe such an important topic should have been central to the theme and given more prominence.

photo credit: 

The evening event provided a great opportunity to continue some excellent conversations well into the night. Here the venue came into its own with a large open space, bar and restaurants, making it easy for the discussion to continue without interruption.

photo credit: 

Day 2 kicked off with Kris Buytaert regaling tails of the 6.5 years of DevOpsDays. His talk allowed him to reminiscence on the history of the event, but also to outline some of the core ethos and characteristics that have made this event so successful globally.

Next came a new comer to the DevOps space by the name of Gene Kim. For his first time giving a talk on DevOps, Gene’s perceptive talk on the impact on DevOps becoming mainstream, seem to contain an awful lot of scientific materials and fact. For someone, so new to the industry his ability to gain such insight was simply astounding. Contained in the metrics, was the cold hard fact that this DevOps thing is delivering even more business value than we ever thought possible and that being 200x faster is creating decisive winners and losers in the marketplace. His talk covered many lessons learnt and examples from across the industry, all of which has culminated in his second book the “DevOps Handbook”, which we hope to see released shortly. Well done Gene, it seems you might have a bright future in this space.

As someone, said – “only Gene Kim can follow Gene Kim on stage” and so it was with the panel session up next. With representation from Barclays, Thoughtworks, Deloitte and Pivotal the all-star session was set to be ground-breaking. Disappointingly, poor audio and moderation combined to make this session pretty unengaging, and it failed to deliver the expected energy and open interaction from the crowd.

After the break, Gareth Rushgrove took back control of the energy and the crowd with a punchy and engaging talk on Rates of Change, Microservices and Platforms – a tale of devops coevolution, and it was tonic to those suffering a bit of day 2 conference fatigue. The clean and simple presentation was laden with facts and metrics – backed up with a good dose of science. With reference to culture, process and technology Gareth demonstrated that there are good practices for team structure, concluding that there are no single perfect team patterns for DevOps but that there are many bad patterns. The http://web.devopstopologies.com/ provides some excellent discussion on Team Structures that might be Right for DevOps to Flourish.

He continued by explaining the bi-directional relationship, as defined in Conways law, that software you use or build can be changed by changing your organisation or that your organisation can be changed by changing the software you use. He continued by exploring the coevolution, a concept rooted in biology, which considers systems as comprising both a “technical” and “social” system. The joint optimisation of both systems, leads to better results and Gareth drew direct comparison to DevOps as an example of this optimisation, stating that organisational change or technical improvement alone provide sub-optimal improvement. In short, DevOps requires both cultural and technical optimisation, to recognise the full benefits.

Jeromy Carriere closed the last formal session of the day with his talk, Enterprise Ops Rising, highlighting numerous operational and security challenges organisations are faced with when deploying systems microservices at scale in the cloud, balancing against a drop of standards, compliance and legacy code. Jeromy, touched on both technical and cultural aspects of employee empowerment, drawing in the topic of fear and touching on blameless post-mortems.

Photo credit: @squire_matt

A series of entertaining Ignites followed the highlight of which was defiantly Oliver Wood taking us to an entirely new place with his talk “You don’t scale” looking at “HumanOps”. Oliver covered the extremely important subject of Burnout and Health. “We adopted the slogan ‘go live or die trying’ because we are idiots.” was a highlight from his inspirational talk.

Photo Credit: 

Open spaces sessions in the afternoon saw a smaller number of topics than day #1. The sessions covered certification, security, post mortems and maturity assessments, with @michal_wojciech concluding that “all organisations need to bring their IT security teams to a DevOps conference”.

Overall it was an immensely enjoyable two days, and the massive amount of hard work the organisers had put in clearly showed as the event was run smoothly, with tons of positive feedback on content and discussions. The event however had taken on a much more “enterprise” feel, which was a slight shame given that this community event is a month before the DevOps Enterprise Summit. Unfortunately a low point of the event was the abandoning an entire Q&A session following one of the best talks of the conference, to allow the vendors their pitch slots. I think the audience and nature of the event should consider a more lenient approach to the schedule. In fairness the quality of speakers, discussion and venue overshadowed any negatives and it was a thoroughly enjoyable 2 days at a great conference.

As Caroline Donnally said, “Sign of a good conference is leaving it with a head buzzing with all the new stuff I’ve learned and can write about”

photo credit: @johnC_bristol

Thanks @DevOpsLondon2016 – we had a blast.

DevOps at Enterprise Scale Breakfast Briefing

A few weeks ago the DevOpsGuys and HPE hosted a joint breakfast briefing entitled DevOps at Enterprise Scale. We were joined by a good selection of household names from a variety of sectors: telecoms, retail and financial services. The over-riding questions were: how to get started with DevOps transformation and issues to avoid when applying DevOps principles at enterprise-level.

For me though, the highlight of the event was the presentation given by one of our customers Raj Fowler, who is Head of Product Delivery at BAE Systems. Raj is approximately 18 months into his DevOps Transformation and was inspired to start his journey after reading The Phoenix Project.

Raj began his presentation by giving us an overview of BAE Systems, its products and heritage as well as the evolutionary history of the organisation. Raj stated that the defence market was changing, just as in other sectors, which requires BAE Systems to increase pace, reduce costs and deliver value the customer whilst maintaining quality. Just as in the beginning of the Phoenix Project, BAE Systems needs to respond and adapt to a changing market place.

As a result, BAE Systems are embarking on the DevOps movement with a view to increasing the delivery of business value from enterprise systems. With help from literature, conferences and coaching, Raj is focussing his efforts on the cultural changes needed to deliver improved business results.

Using this collateral Raj has initiated two key strands of work. Firstly, he has restructured the organisation around Products, bringing the Plan, Build and Operate silos together. He has also initiated a structured education and coaching programme to redefine the rules they work to with a new focus on Value, Flow and Quality rather than Time, Cost and Scope. What he is now seeing are the ‘green shoots’ of progress. The foundations have been worked on, the seeds have been planted and an environment created to nurture a ‘new’ culture. Office walls (and windows) are being filled with Post-It Notes; huddles of people are forming, ‘talking’ about the work; individuals are becoming teams; language is changing with a focus on business value, delivering early and often and getting fast feedback; difficult organisational and customer conversations are being had to break down the ‘real’ barriers to progress and the departments performance indicators are slowly but surely starting to improve – all signs of small incremental cultural transformation.

Raj has underpinned these changes with education, which has been delivered by DevOpsGuys. We’ve worked with Raj to develop an education programme that supports his colleagues’ transformation and our approach has been to educate the department systematically focussing on the ‘why change’ and ‘why agile’ – it’s not just about knowing what to do, it’s about knowing why across the whole team.

Raj strongly believes his colleagues need to understand Why they are doing something, not just What they are doing. Therefore, we have coached rather than trained. Raj commented during his presentation, on how we have asked questions rather than provided answers, forcing his teams to really think about what they are doing. He wants to ensure he transforms his team in a way which really works for BAE Systems rather than copying a documented methodology verbatim. The benefits are being seen already.

Since embarking on his journey, Raj has observed increased customer satisfaction, seen an increase in staff motivation and of course, he’s starting to see change delivered faster. For instance, one of his teams is delivery weekly releases with cycle times reduced to around 2 weeks down from months. Raj maintains though, it’s not all about speed. It’s about flow. After all, there would be little benefit in him speeding up the delivery of change if no one in the business could accept the change.

After what felt like a difficult start, Raj is now seeing the rate of learning and adoption of these principles accelerate. Raj’s team are able to deliver software changes faster and the constraints are starting to move to the wider organisation (creation and approval of new work and business change). He is now starting to work with the wider business to increase the flow of work for the end to end system – from idea to user.

Raj’s transformation is also beginning to gain interest and positive feedback from the wider business, and he firmly believes the principles he’s used to improve the flow of work through his team can be applied to any area of a business, not just IT.

However, the most crucial lesson to be taken from the BAE Systems transformation is that in 18 months, they are still yet to automate anything. Instead of treading the path most other organisations follow, by starting with automation, Raj has pursued a path of education and transformation, choosing to leave automation until after all other process constraints have been removed.

And finally, to quote Raj: “This is not easy. It’s about people – creating the right environment, educating your organisation, stimulating collaboration, new practices and experimentation are essential ingredients to improving business performance.”

2016-02-24 09.03.18

WinOps Conf 2016 – Call for Speakers

The WinOps Community needs you to share your knowledge and stories at this years WinOps Conf (Tues 24th May at CodeNode – http://www.winops.org/)

So the Call for Speakers is now open – and you can apply by completing the form right here – http://1drv.ms/1R0gdMP

The deadline for submission is 1700 on Friday 1st April 2016.

As you may already know, WinOps Conf is the world’s first community-led “DevOps on Windows” event.

Attendees at WinOps Conf will learn practical real-world solutions to the challenges in implementing a DevOps transformation in a “traditional Windows enterprise”.

WinOps Conf will feature a mixture of keynote speakers, case study presentations, technical workshops and “Ask Me Anything” panel sessions to try and make the day as interactive and informal as possible.

Core topics for the conference include:

  • The cultural challenges, processes, and tools involved with DevOps
  • DevOps practices such as Infrastructure as a Code and continuous delivery and testing in production
  • How Microsoft solutions can integrate with, leverage, and support your existing Open Source solutions
  • How DevOps practices can help you deliver higher-quality software on a shorter timeline and with better compliance
  • Best practices in Azure and Hybrid Cloud, including Azure Stack
  • Windows and Hyper-V Containers
  • Building effective Application Lifecycle Management with Microsoft solutions and third-party tools like OctopusDeploy

– Presentation Guidelines –

The Standard presentation session will be a 45 minute presentation followed by a 5 min Q&A session with the audience.

If you wish to use Powerpoint or equivalent please use 16:9 slide ratio suitable for 1080p resolution projection

Wireless Internet access is available and speakers are encouraged to show live demos, running systems and generally take some risks!

– Reviewing Process –

All presentations will be anonymised to remove any personally identifiable information and then reviewed by the organising committee, given a rating of 1 (Weak) to 10 (excellent) based on the relevance to the WinOps audience, and then WinOps Conf reviewers will meet to discuss the proposals together and select the highest scoring talks offering topic diversity for inclusion in the agenda.

 

If you wish to learn more about the WinOps community please join our monthly meetup group here – http://www.meetup.com/winops

It’s an Intern Life for us….

Welcome to the start of the Intern Blog at DevOpsGuys! This series of articles will follow the Interns at DevOpsGuys, giving you an insight into what we are doing, what we have learnt and what it’s like to be an Intern at DevOpsGuys.

The Interns of 2015/16 are four students studying computing related degree courses at the University of South Wales in Trefforest (formerly University of Glamorgan).

The Interns are:

Anthony:

 Anthony

Daniel:

 Dan

Nathan:

 Nathan

Mark:

 Mark

 
All of us signed up for the industrial year because we saw the benefits of getting some experience and skills that so many students are lacking when they leave university.

We have all learnt a lot since coming to DevOpsGuys, and we hope to share some of our learning experiences with you.

 

SSH Keys and how NOT to consolidate them…

Let’s start with a fun experience we have had in the DevOpsGuys office.

There have been many moments at DevOpsGuys that have made the engineers laugh, most of the time it’s from funny comments, but the time I remember most clearly is when I consolidated my SSH Keys…

We use SSH Keys quite a lot at DevOpsGuys, they are a good way to authenticate with a server, ensuring security, but they are also easy to use. As we started working on different projects we would create SSH Keys to authenticate with the servers for each project, which of course meant that each Intern ended up with about 5 SSH Keys each, and we would not always know which SSH Key was supposed to go with which server.

To ensure we could access servers we would load all the keys into the SSH client, and then forget about them, the client would do the rest of the work, checking if keys matched the servers or not.

Consolidating my SSH Keys was something I had been thinking of doing so I knew which key was for which server, but I had never actually got around to it, until I ended up in a position where it was my only option.

As you can guess, it’s not what I started out trying to accomplish…

One day an engineer and I were discussing how I could get Putty and my SSH Keys to load on start-up of my laptop to save time adding all the different SSH Keys into my Pageant session. During the discussion, the engineer noted I didn’t have comments attached to any of the keys and suggested that might be a good way to identify them.

These are the steps to take to heart…

* Go slowly, pay attention to where you are clicking and be sure it’s the correct place.
* Don’t overwrite important files, create new versions and delete older versions after if you’re sure the new copy is correct.

When I was saving my newly commented keys I didn’t pay attention to which save button I was clicking in Putty, and I was also just saving over the top of my private keys…It’s just a recipe for disaster!! Of course something went wrong, as it always will do… I accidently saved my public key when I was trying to save my newly commented private key, and so I overwrote almost all of my private keys with their public key equivalents…. I’m just glad it was only my SSH Keys I overwrote and not a more important file.

Now it’s a simple fix to push out my new consolidated public key to the servers and now I only have one SSH Key that I can use in multiple places.

Mark – A DevOpsGuys Intern

“Inspiring a Future Generation of DevOps” at the DevOpsGuys (www.devopsguys.com)

The National Software Academy (NSA), is an initiative run by Cardiff University; providing university students with the skills required to enter the industry as a commercial software engineer. Students operate in small teams using Agile development methods and work alongside industry partners on real-world commercial projects. The NSA currently has around 25 students and is based in Newport.

Anthony and I are two Interns from the class of 2015/16 ESTnet Intern Programme (http://www.estnet.uk.net), currently on placement at DevOpsGuys. We were asked to present to the students at NSA to give them an insight on all things DevOps alongside our experiences of being Interns and taking a year out in industry as part of our degrees.

When we arrived at the NSA (I’m starting to think this naming strategy wasn’t a coincidence), we were given a brief tour of the facilities before having the opportunity to meet the students during lunch. Joining the students for lunch allowed us to break the ice and put us at ease before our presentation. It also led to them disclosing the location of a chippy to be utilised on our journey home. They were a fantastic group of students and it was immediately obvious to us that they were completely engaged and passionate about their subject area.

The nature of the presentation was that of a ‘lunch and learn’ format, so the atmosphere was very informal, which made it much easier for us. We started by introducing ourselves, before kicking off a code demo. The demo was to deploy the infrastructure for DevOpsGuys’ website into AWS, including domain management and monitoring via Terraform and Ansible. This was a great demo for us to do as we played a major role in the design and build of the infrastructure and thus know exactly how it works. I initially explained a bit about the demo and then we jumped into our DevOps 101.

We discussed why we do DevOps, by explaining the problems businesses are continuing to face as technology advances at an exponential rate. We then moved into the details of what DevOps is. We decided to include the statistics relating to company deployment rates, which seemed to really strike a chord with the students and clearly demonstrated the advantages to business of embracing DevOps. One student managed to pretty much guess straight away Amazon’s deployment rate of one every 11.6 seconds!

We then went onto explain a bit about DevOpsGuys, the services we provide, the tooling we use and the work we as Interns primarily get involved in. The students were really engaged and had a number questions relating to our tooling; such as ‘Why do we use both Bitbucket and GitHub?’. At DevOpsGuys we use a variety of tools and this is largely driven by customer demand and preference.

The discussion then moved towards the work we’ve been involved in over the past six months. In my opinion this forms an impressive list, especially considering in August we were completely new to the ideas of Agile and DevOps. We were able to share real life experiences of the tools and projects we’ve gained knowledge of with the students, notwithstanding some of the funny experiences we’ve shared!

We finally turned back to the code demo where we went on to show them what the 20-minute shell outputs had achieved. Admittedly, the live demo didn’t work completely as planned because the tags within Dataloop weren’t applied correctly, so we showed them the live monitoring dashboard instead.

Overall, this was a great experience for us to be involved in, and hopefully the students will feel the same too.

Nathan – A DevOpsGuys Intern

Nathan

Anthony – A DevOpsGuys Intern

Anthony

DevOpsGuys Launch Workshops & Training

DevOpsGuys, a leading provider of DevOps services for Enterprise clients, is pleased to announce the launch of their new DevOps Education platform which provides DevOps, Continuous Delivery and Agile training courses and workshop, enabling organisations to build the knowledge they need to succeed with DevOps transformation.

As part of DevOpsGuys on-going commitment to impart knowledge and expertise through the company’s training programmes, and to support organisations developing internal capabilities themselves, DevOpsGuys has built a series of public and onsite training solutions where people of all levels can experience DevOps.

“Enterprise IT has a critical need to identify, select, learn and implement new platforms.  Being a digital enterprise is so critical to the future of every company that knowledge must be built and managed internally”, said James Betteley, Head of DevOps Education at DevOpsGuys.

DevOpsGuys courses are delivered through a combination of interactive workshops and practical, engineering led classes, allowing people to experience DevOps process and practices or get hands-on with Automation, or understand how to design software to facilitate Continuous Delivery.

“We’ve been listening to what people in our industry have been asking us for and are excited to launch our DevOps from the Trenches workshop”, announced Betteley. “This workshop is based on our DevOps experiences working with dozens of leading organisations across Europe – from small start-ups to large enterprises.”

The course can be booked online using EventBrite at http://devopsguys.eventbrite.com

DevOpsGuys offer a range of DevOps and Agile training courses and workshops, which can be found online at https://www.devopsguys.com/devops_training

About DevOpsGuys

DevOpsGuys deliver DevOps-as-a-Foundation to underpin digital transformation, achieving greater customer enablement and unlocking new revenue streams. Our solutions make enterprise organisations agile, scalable and responsive to rapidly changing business requirements.

Our platform is built on a foundation of education and DevOpsGuys offer a series of DevOps, Continuous Delivery and Agile training courses and workshop, enabling you to build the knowledge you need to succeed.

Our courses are delivered through a combination of interactive workshops and practical, engineering led classes, where people of all levels can experience DevOps, get hands-on with Automation, or understand how to design software to facilitate Continuous Delivery.

Rules, Dashboards and Templates. Oh my!

Recently, we were engaged by one of our clients to investigate improvements to their existing AppDynamics configuration in order to provide greater insight in to specific areas of their application and also to provide more granular alerting capabilities. The result of this work was the creation of 11 health rules, specific to an application tier, which provided the granularity that was desired.

We then had a problem. How to deploy these health rules and the dashboard to each of the 14 application tiers in a timely and automated fashion? Secondary to this was a desire to define a standard set of Health Rules that could be easily applied to future projects as and when required.

The solution came by leveraging the AppDynamics REST API which provided a quick and simple way of exporting, and importing, health rules in bulk. Initially, the new Health Rules were entered manually for a single Application Tier and then exported using the API. The result of this operation is an XML file that described the configured rules.

It was quickly identified that the health rules defined in the XML document could be easily templated by obtaining information such as the name of the application tier and its numeric ID. A quick search and replace through the XML document resulted in a template document containing specific keywords in place of the defined tier names and IDs. A simple shell script was then used to modify this template and output rulesets for any application tier we desired, based on an input file containing a list of the application tier names and IDs that the rules were to be applied to.

Import of the resulting XML document via the API was initially performed via a REST API client which allowed the rules to be imported on a per-application basis. The result was the creation of 154 health rules in under an hour, providing a huge saving on time and effort. The API provides the ability to optionally overwrite existing rules, based on the rule name, so modifications and tweaks could be performed easily and quickly as required.

Once the health rules had been templated, the next logical step was to also template the custom dashboards we had designed. The process for this was similar to the health rules. A dashboard that had been created manually was exported via the API and templated in the same way as the health rules, replicated for each appropriate application tier, and imported via the API. This ensured each dashboard had the same look and feel and that the data being presented was consistent across all application tiers.

The completed health rules and dashboards are also providing our client with an unparalleled insight in to the performance of their application and were actively used by engineers and developers alike during a large migration and go-live event. Performance bottlenecks in each application tier were quickly identified and rectified before they became a problem. A big win for us and our client.

Our work to template the creation of health rules and dashboards ensures each and every health rule and dashboard can now be defined in a standard way with no variations or misconfigurations that can be introduced in a purely manual process. The next step is to hold the templates in source control and use a CI solution, such as Jenkins, to generate and import the rules. This would also allow any changes to the base rule sets or dashboard designs to be easily and automatically rolled out.

By Wayne, a DevOpsGuy