Book Club: The DevOps Handbook (Chapter 8. How to Get Great Outcomes by Integrating Operations into the Daily Work of Development)

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 8

The goal is to enable market-oriented outcomes where many small teams can quickly and independently deliver value to the customer.

Big Fish Games Example: Two types of Ops liaisons: the business relationship manager and the dedicated release engineer.

The business relationship managers worked with product management, line-of-business owners, project management, Dev management, and developers. They became familiar with product group business drivers and product road maps, acted as advocates for product owners inside of Operations, and helped their product teams navigate the Operations landscape to prioritize and streamline work requests.

The dedicated release engineer became intimately familiar with the product’s Development and QA issues, and helped them get what they needed from the Ops organization to achieve their goals. They would also pull in dedicated technical Ops engineers (e.g., DBAs, Infosec, storage engineers, network engineers) and help determine which self-service tools the entire Operations group should prioritize building.

Strategies for a centralized Ops team to be successful:

  • Create self-service capabilities to enable developers in the service teams to be productive.
  • Embed Ops engineers into the service teams.
  • Assign Ops liaisons to the service teams when embedding Ops is not possible.

Create Shared Services to Increase Developer Productivity

One way to enable market-oriented outcomes is for Operations to create a set of centralized platforms and tooling services that any Dev team can use to become more productive, such as getting production-like environments, deployment pipelines, automated testing tools, production telemetry dashboards, and so forth.

Example: a platform that provides a shared version control repository with pre-blessed security libraries, a deployment pipeline that automatically runs code quality and security scanning tools, which deploys our applications into known, good environments that already have production monitoring tools installed on them.

Creating and maintaining these platforms and tools is real product development.

Internal shared services teams should continually look for internal toolchains that are widely being adopted in the organization, deciding which ones make sense to be supported centrally and made available to everyone.

Embed Ops Engineers into Service Teams

Enable product teams to become more self-sufficient by embedding Operations engineers within them, thus reducing their reliance on centralized Operations.

“In many parts of Disney we have embedded Ops (system engineers) inside the product teams in our business units, along with inside Development, Test, and even Information Security. It has totally changed the dynamics of how we work. As Operations Engineers, we create the tools and capabilities that transform the way people work, and even the way they think. In traditional Ops, we merely drove the train that someone else built. But in modern Operations Engineering, we not only help build the train, but also the bridges that the trains roll on.”

Jason Cox

Assign An Ops Liaison To Each Service Team

One option instead of embedding an Ops engineer into every product team is assigning a designated liaison for each product team.

The designated Ops engineer is responsible for understanding:

  • What the new product functionality is and why we’re building it.
  • How it works as it pertains to operability, scalability, and observability (diagramming is strongly encouraged).
  • How to monitor and collect metrics to ensure the progress, success, or failure of the functionality.
  • Any departures from previous architectures and patterns, and the justifications for them.
  • Any extra needs for infrastructure and how usage will affect infrastructure capacity.
  • Feature launch plans.

Integrate Ops Into Dev Rituals

When Ops engineers are embedded or assigned as liaisons into product teams, they can be integrated into Dev team rituals. For instance, the Daily Standup, which is a quick meeting where everyone on the team gets together and presents to each other three things: what was done yesterday, what is going to be done today, and what is preventing you from getting your work done.

The purpose of this ceremony is to radiate information throughout the team and to understand the work that is being done and is going to be done. By having Ops engineers attend, Operations can gain an awareness of the Development team’s activities, enabling better planning and preparation.

Invite Ops To Dev Retrospectives

The Retrospective: At the end of each development interval, the team discusses what was successful, what could be improved, and how to incorporate the successes and improvements in future iterations or projects.

Having Ops engineers attend project team retrospectives means they can also benefit from any new learnings. Feedback from Operations helps the product teams better see and understand the downstream impact of decisions they make.

Make Relevant Ops Work Visible on Shared Kanban Boards

Because Operations is part of the product value stream, teams should put the Operations work that is relevant to product delivery on the shared Kanban Board.

This enables teams to more clearly see all the work required to move code into production. It enables teams to see where Ops work is blocked and where work needs escalation, highlighting areas where the team may need improvement.

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