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Conway's Law: The Skeleton of Devops

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Devops is about communication. In order to make better software, we seek out diverse viewpoints, use a common vocabulary, and encourage transparency.

But despite all this focus on communication, we don't have much of a framework to guide our decisions.

"Should we do continuous integration?"

"Why not? People seem to like that."

"What about ChatOps?"

"Sure, yeah; it works for GitHub."

Well, there's a half-forgotten rule -- first stated 46 years ago -- that can guide us through these decisions. It's called Conway's Law:

Organizations which design systems ... are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.

I'll show how Conway's Law is derived, how it's been empirically tested, and how it informs so much of what we do in devops. I want my audience to walk away with a new tool for spreading devops, shaping cross-team communication, and moving forward with confidence.

Published in: Technology

Conway's Law: The Skeleton of Devops

  1. 1. the skeleton of devops conway’s law
  2. 2. hello i am dan slimmon danslimmon.com dan@danslimmon.com github.com/danslimmon twitter.com/danslimmon danslimmon.wordpress.com
  3. 3. hello i am dan slimmon ● i’m in ops ● exosite ● blue state digital
  4. 4. what works in devops LET’S DO CHATOPS! k
  5. 5. what works in devops
  6. 6. what works in devops LET’S DO CHEF! k
  7. 7. what works in devops
  8. 8. what works in devops
  9. 9. what works in devops
  10. 10. theory theory gets a bad rap
  11. 11. theory a theory is a set of rules that generates predictions about the behavior of a system
  12. 12. theory experiments weed out false theories theories tell us what experiments to do
  13. 13. theory hydrogen emission lines
  14. 14. theory rydberg formula derived in 1888
  15. 15. theory 1888 - 1913 in atomic physics:
  16. 16. theory
  17. 17. theory
  18. 18. whoa oh mans HOLY SHIT Z O M G
  19. 19. theory theories can be tested theories allow us to share understanding theories point the way to innovation
  20. 20. devops theory devops is a system
  21. 21. devops theory ● silo destruction ● infrastructure as code ● continuous integration ● empathy ● blameless post- mortems ● measure all the things ● chatops
  22. 22. devops theory ● silo destruction ● infrastructure as code ● continuous integration ● empathy ● blameless post- mortems ● measuring everything ● chatops communication
  23. 23. conway’s law “How Do Committees Invent?” Melvin Conway, 1968 http://tinyurl.com/conwayslaw
  24. 24. conway’s law organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations
  25. 25. conway’s law to the extent that an organization is not completely flexible in its communication structure, that organization will stamp out an image of itself in every design it produces
  26. 26. conway’s law if you have 4 groups working on a compiler, you'll get a 4-pass compiler eric s. raymond
  27. 27. conway’s law proof
  28. 28. conway’s law “proof”
  29. 29. conway’s law consider some system and the organization which designed it
  30. 30. conway’s law system: organization:
  31. 31. conway’s law system: organization:
  32. 32. conway’s law system: organization: ?
  33. 33. conway’s law system: organization:
  34. 34. conway’s law new system: organization: um...
  35. 35. conway’s law new system: organization:
  36. 36. conway’s law your org structure isn't solving your problem. it's an artifact of how you've solved it before. adam jacob
  37. 37. conway’s law architectural innovations destroy the usefulness of the architectural knowledge of established firms architectural innovation: the reconfiguration of existing product technologies and the failure of established firms. henderson, r. & clark, k. 1990.
  38. 38. conway’s law in devops what’s this got to do with devops?
  39. 39. conway’s law in devops we continuously redesign our systems to make them better and to adjust to changing stimuli so we must do the same for our team structures
  40. 40. conway’s law in devops chatops
  41. 41. chatops system: organization: ?
  42. 42. chatops system: organization:
  43. 43. chatops system: organization:
  44. 44. conway’s law in devops infrastructure as code
  45. 45. infrastructure as code rubby rubby rubby #!/bin/bash
  46. 46. infrastructure as code
  47. 47. conway’s law in devops devops is a special case of conway’s law we mold our communication structure into the shape we want for our system
  48. 48. theory is a conversation agree with me or, even better, disagree with me
  49. 49. theory is a conversation organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations

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