Book Club: The DevOps Handbook (Chapter 5. Selecting Which Value Stream to Start With)

This entry is part [part not set] of 25 in the series DevOps Handbook

The following is a chapter summary for “The DevOps Handbook” by Gene Kim, Jez Humble, John Willis, and Patrick DeBois for an online book club.

The book club is a weekly lunchtime meeting of technology professionals. As a group, the book club selects, reads, and discuss books related to our profession. Participants are uplifted via group discussion of foundational principles & novel innovations. Attendees do not need to read the book to participate.

Background on The DevOps Handbook

More than ever, the effective management of technology is critical for business competitiveness. For decades, technology leaders have struggled to balance agility, reliability, and security. The consequences of failure have never been greater―whether it’s the debacle, cardholder data breaches, or missing the boat with Big Data in the cloud.

And yet, high performers using DevOps principles, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Etsy, and Netflix, are routinely and reliably deploying code into production hundreds, or even thousands, of times per day.

Following in the footsteps of The Phoenix Project, The DevOps Handbook shows leaders how to replicate these incredible outcomes, by showing how to integrate Product Management, Development, QA, IT Operations, and Information Security to elevate your company and win in the marketplace.

The DevOps Handbook

Chapter 5

Choosing a value stream for DevOps transformation deserves careful consideration. The value stream chosen dictates the difficulty of the transformation and also dictates who will be involved in the transformation. The value stream will affect how the organization will organize into teams and how to best enable the teams & individuals in them.

Nordstrom DevOps Case Study

Nordstrom focused on three areas in their DevOps transformation:

  1. The customer mobile application
  2. Their in-store restaurant systems
  3. Their digital properties

Each of the above areas had business goals that weren’t being met, so as an organization they were more receptive to considering a different way of working. For instance, the poorly designed mobile app only released 2x per year.

Nordstrom Solutions:

  • Dedicated team for the mobile app (independent development, testing, deployment)
  • Integrated testing into everyone’s daily work
  • Altered work intake and deployment processes for in-store restaurant app that reduced deployment lead times and production incidents.
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Reducing Batch Sizes
  • Continuous Delivery

Greenfield versus Brownfield Services

Greenfield Development is when we build on undeveloped land.

Brownfield Development is when we build on land that was previously used for industrial purposes, potentially contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution.

The DevOps Handbook. Chapter 5.

In technology, a greenfield project is a new software project or initiative, likely in the early stages of planning or implementation, where applications and infrastructure are built anew with few constraints. Brownfield projects often come with significant amounts of technical debt, such as having no test automation or running on unsupported platforms.

One of the findings in the 2015 State of DevOps Report validated that the age of the application was not a significant predictor of performance. Instead, whether the application was architected for testability and deployability was a better predictor for performance.

Consider Both Systems of Record and Systems of Engagement

Bimodal IT refers to the wide spectrum of services that typical enterprises support.

Systems of Record are the ERP-like systems that run business (e.g., HR, financial reporting systems), where the correctness of the transactions and data are paramount. Typically, regulatory and compliance issues.

Systems of Engagement are customer-facing or employee-facing systems, such as e-commerce systems and productivity applications.

Start With The Most Sympathetic and Innovative Groups

In “Crossing The Chasm” by Geoffrey A. Moore, the chasm represents the classic difficulty of reaching groups beyond the innovators and early adopters.

The DevOps Handbook. Chapter 5 Figure 9

Expanding DevOps Across The Organization

To build a DevOps culture, identify and work with the following groups in this order:

  • Find Innovators and Early Adopters
  • Build Critical Mass and Silent Majority
  • Identify the Holdouts

Find Innovators and Early Adopters

In the beginning, focus efforts on teams who actually want to help. These groups are typically the first to volunteer to start the DevOps journey. In an ideal state these people are respected and have a high degree of influence over the rest of the organization, giving the initiative more credibility.

Build Critical Mass and Silent Majority

In the next phase, seek to expand DevOps practices to more teams and value streams with the goal of creating a stable base of support. By working with teams who are receptive to new ideas, the coalition is expanded and ultimately generates more success, creating a “bandwagon effect” that further increases influence. It’s recommended to specifically bypass dangerous political battles that could jeopardize the initiative.

Identify the Holdouts

The “holdouts” are the high profile, influential detractors who are most likely to resist the DevOps transformation efforts. In general, approach this group only after having achieved a silent majority, when the DevOps transformation has established enough successes to successfully protect the initiative.

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