From DevOps to Operations Science


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By Christopher Brown, CTO, Opscode

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  • Chef is a framework for building and managing servers, systems and software packages. Chef relies on abstract definitions (known as cookbooks and recipes) that describe how specific parts of your infrastructure should be built and managed. These recipes and cookbooks are managed like source code, kept centrally in a version-controlled repository, and made re-usable across your infrastructure. - When a new server comes online, the only thing that Chef needs to know is which of your centrally stored cookbooks and recipes to apply (ie “this new server or sets of servers should be apache webservers”)- Subsequently, making changes is as simple as pushing a single update and watching Chef roll it out to all of the servers for which that update applies. One of our customers may have described it best when he referred to Chef as “a fleet of little systems engineer robots who do all your dirty work for you”The result is a method for managing infrastructure that is an order of magnitude more scalable and flexible than prior generations. Our customers refer to this as "infrastructure as code".
  • Attempting to change how a business operates culturally with the same tools and processes that enforced the previous culture leads to worse results than doing nothing at allConsider the cultural traits you want to engender or discourage, and build a technology platform the enforces those considerations
  • From DevOps to Operations Science

    1. 1. From DevOps to Operations Science Christopher Brown, CTO, Opscode
    2. 2. From DevOps to Operations Science A business transformation in 3 acts… • Christopher Brown • Chief Technology Officer • Twitter: @skeptomai, Email:
    3. 3. CTO 3
    4. 4. What is Chef? Chef is an IT automation platform for developers & systems engineers to continuously define, build, and manage infrastructure. CHEF USES: Recipes and Cookbooks that describe and deliver code. Chef enables people to easily build & manage complex & dynamic applications at massive scale. • Model for describing infrastructure that promotes reuse • Programmatically provision and configure • Reconstruct business from code repository, data backup, and bare metal resources
    5. 5. People
    6. 6. Business
    7. 7. Technology
    8. 8. People
    9. 9. Software Engineering Systems Adminstrators DevOps “Business” People?
    10. 10. Hey Ops! Do I have to fire you? ...the site’s down again
    11. 11. “I was hired to roll back code”
    12. 12. DevOps is supposed to fix this, right?
    13. 13. “Accidentally, but relentlessly, America has built a health-care system with incentives that inexorably generate terrible and perverse results. Incentives that emphasize health care over any other aspect of health and well-being. That emphasize treatment over prevention. That disguise true costs. That favor complexity, and discourage transparent competition based on price or quality.”
    14. 14. Developer Duck DevOps Platypus n/pool-809956@N25/ Ops Beaver
    15. 15. How does DevOps help? “The demographic seems to be experienced, talented 30-something sysadmin coders with a clear understanding that writing software is about making money and shipping product.” “If you're a developer, go and make friends with your sysadmins. Don't view them as lower life forms, or as people to lob problems to. ... If they're using Puppet or Chef, get involved - start contributing to their codebase.” - Patrick Debois
    16. 16. Business
    17. 17. The Back Office Becomes The Front Office “In ten years, I’m certain every COO worth their salt will have come from IT. Any COO who doesn’t intimately understand the IT systems that actually run the business is just an empty suit, relying on someone else to do their job.” Kim, Gene; Behr, Kevin ; Spafford, George (2013-01-10). The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win (Kindle Locations 5805-5807). IT Revolution Press. Kindle Edition.
    18. 18. • IT was historically a source of internal efficiency • As more and more customers prefer digital consumption, that role shifts to one that is increasingly customer centric – the front of the business, not the back – Every technology that previously impacted only internal business functions now directly supports customer interactions!
    19. 19. Software is the interface for consumption
    20. 20. “The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.” – Sam Walton (Walmart) Applications became customer service vehicles “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos (
    21. 21. DevOps • Is the cultural and professional movement that grew directly from the collective experience of the pioneers of this transition • It’s application to traditional IT is 1:1 • The business adaptations encapsulated in Devops will eventually be ubiquitous – ....At least, if you want to be great at the next couple decades of global economic growth
    22. 22. Continuous Delivery • Businesses must deliver better customer experience as quickly and safely as possible. • Safety matters! • Failure to do so will have serious impacts on customer satisfaction and loyalty – just like it did when Sam Walton was the Ghengis Kahn of rural retail.
    23. 23. Every success story we’ve found shares some common traits Every failure lacks one or more of them
    24. 24. Build a culture of personal empowerment and accountability • Focus on responsibility and accountability, rather than authority – Functional teams have responsibility for design, implementation, and administration of their products and services – cradle to grave. – Architecture, Security, Systems Administration, and QA become universal responsibilities, with experts who set standards and build tools to enable the business to do the right thing. – Business leaders set priorities and direction, and have close communication loops with teams doing implementation work.
    25. 25. Companies that get this wrong… Have a strong reliance on centralized decision making and environmental gates. Cannot ever point at individuals who are responsible for outcomes Have few, if any, capable “full stack” engineers “Architects” responsible for high level design, but no real commitment to implementation
    26. 26. Treat failure as a learning opportunity “Progress on safety coincides with learning from failure. This makes punishment and learning two mutually exclusive activities Organizations can either learn from an accident or punish the individuals involved in it, but hardly do both at the same time. ... Learning challenges and potentially changes the belief about what creates safety. Moreover, punishment emphasizes that failures are deviant, that they do not naturally belong in the organization...” Sidney W.A. Dekker, Ten Questions about Human Error: A New View of No blame postmortems
    27. 27. Become allergic to things that make you slow “The number 1 thing we can’t do is get in people’s way.” Phil Dibowitz, Facebook
    28. 28. Re-enforce culture with technology, and vice versa “Tooling is culture institutionalized” - Adam Jacob
    29. 29. Still with me?
    30. 30. • Christopher Brown • Chief Technical Officer • Twitter: @skeptomai, Email: