The Goat Farm – Episode 11 – DevOps at Asurion

Asurion is definitely one of those companies that you didn’t know existed until you needed to use them. Like that time you dropped your phone in the toilet by accident. In this episode, we speak to Jon Klein of Asurion to hear how they’ve started adopting DevOps principles in their work at Asurion.

Jon shares with us how they got started, how they are continuing their success, and how they’ve even gotten the attention of their CIO. Jon gives a good picture of what it takes for Operations teams to refine their work internally, to make them more effective for their internal customers.

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Show notes:


 

jonkleinJon Klein – TwitterLinkedIn

Jon started his career as “the” IT guy at his family’s construction supply and equipment dealership back in 2002, handling everything from desktop support to network administration. He fell in love with Open Source, playing with Linux in a friend’s basement and freelancing on the side. He eventually took a job with a contracting firm as a Linux Admin for ServiceBench, Inc in 2006. Now nearly a decade and 2 acquisitions later, Jon works for the parent company, Asurion and has been on the forefront of the DevOps movement, building cross-functional teams and breaking down org silos. He currently runs a cross-functional team of infrastructure engineers and developers dedicated to the rapid delivery of platforms and infrastructure.

Adrian Cockcroft of Battery Ventures – The Goat Farm – Episode 8

In this episode we talk to the famous (or infamous) Adrian Cockcroft of Battery Ventures. Adrian is known for his work at Netflix and his work to migrate them to a Cloud first strategy, then before that for his book on Sun performance tuning.

Adrian has been doing a lot of work talking to CIOs of large enterprises and helping them understand where ideas such as DevOps, microservices, Cloud are taking the industry. He allows tells us how he is helping CIOs realize how their IT organizations must transform to adopt these new ideas. This episode is all about how the horses are growing horns to become the unicorns.

(Editor’s note: We are really sorry about the audio on this episode. Adrian was in Portland, Michael was in Amsterdam, and Ross was in Minneapolis. While we could have cut a bunch of the bad audio, the content was so good we didn’t want to drop anything. Apologies.)

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Show Notes


Adrian Cockcroft – LinkedInTwitter

Adrian Cockcroft has had a long career working at the leading edge of technology. He’s always been fascinated by what comes next, and he writes and speaks extensively on a range of subjects. At Battery, he advises the firm and its portfolio companies about technology issues and also assists with deal sourcing and due diligence.

Before joining Battery, Adrian helped lead Netflix’s migration to a large scale, highly available public-cloud architecture and the open sourcing of the cloud-native NetflixOSS platform. Prior to that at Netflix he managed a team working on personalization algorithms and service-oriented refactoring.

Adrian was a founding member of eBay Research Labs, developing advanced mobile applications and even building his own homebrew phone, years before iPhone and Android launched. As a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems he wrote the best-selling “Sun Performance and Tuning” book and was chief architect for High Performance Technical Computing.

DevOps at Standard Bank – The Goat Farm – Episode 6

It’s been awhile since the last episode, but we are back with a bang! In this episode we talk to Standard Bank, the largest bank in Africa, about the challenges they faced in taking a DevOps approach in their organization.

Compliance at Velocity was one of the tracks at this year’s ChefConf. Our guest Josef Langerman discusses corporate compliance and the scale of how broad and wide regulations can affect an enterprise’s approach to DevOps, leveraging Agile, and delivering the right solutions for customers/guests.
Listen to Josef’s recount of Standard Bank’s journey – including discovery of change
champions, driving a new, DevOps culture, and establishing a set of themes to
continuously improve and advocate for new ways to satisfy the company’s needs.

We recorded this episode at ChefConf 2015 and we were happy to have Jason Walker of Target as our guest host. If you want to find out more about the topics we discussed, check out the links below.

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Guest Info:

Josef Langerman – LinkedIn – Twitter

Information Technology executive with experience across the Airline, Retail and Investment Banking Industries. My focus is on maximizing development throughput and large scale software development using DevOps and Agile approaches. I am also passionate about higher education and IT research. My teaching and research focus is on Project Management and Software Development.

 

Show Notes:

Jason Walker at ChefConf:

Rachel Chalmers at ChefConf:

 

Running Internal Events – The Goat Farm – Episode 5

A guy in Belgium inspires a bank in the Netherlands to hold an internal DevOps Days. A weekly newsletter in the UK picks up a presentation from that internal event, and a team in Minneapolis, MN is inspired to hold their own event.

Internal events are becoming more and more popular in Enterprise IT. Cloud Symposiums, Automation Symposiums, DevOps Leadership Summits, and DevOps Days are all internal events I have participated in this year alone. Ross and I talk to Heather Mickman (Target), Brent Nelson (Target), and Mark Heistek (ING Bank) about the events they have run in their organizations, how they got started, what challenges they faced, and any tips for people wanting to run their own events.

If you’d like to see some of the tweets and activities from Target’s last two DevOps events, you can search twitter for the hashtag #dotgt.

We also talk briefly about “The Prince of DevOps“, and reviews we’ve gotten about the podcast (sorry for the heavy breathing last time).

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Guest Info:

Heather Mickman – LinkedInTwitter

Heather Mickman is the leader for the API and Integration team at Target and a DevOps enthusiast.  Throughout her career, Heather has continuously embraced hard technology challenges from consulting large Fortune 50 companies on Supply Chain approach, implementing warehouse automation technologies, running large Ops & Support organizations, and establishing enterprise security approaches.  She has a passion for technology, building high performing teams, driving a culture of innovation, and having fun along the way.  Heather lives in Minneapolis with her 2 sons and 2 dachshunds.


Brent Nelson – LinkedInTwitter2014-ProfilePic

Husband, father and life-long resident of Minnesota. I’ve been with Target for 26+ years and for the last year have been an internal DevOps collaboration and social media evangelist involved in hosting internal DevOpsDays events, creating/delivering internal educational materials, co-curating the #make_awesome_happen Flipboard ezine and much more.


fotoMarkHeistekMark Heistek – LinkedInTwitter

Father of two children, sport fanatic, having fun in life and working at ING Bank Netherlands since 2008. Currently in a continuous delivery team to facilitate in an enterprise continuous delivery pipeline. Furthermore a Continuous Delivery and DevOps evangelist in and outside ING.

DevOps at Target – The Goat Farm – Episode 2

In this episode of The Goat Farm we talk with Jason Walker and Dan Cundiff of Target Corporation. Jason and Dan have been instrumental in bringing DevOps to Target. Ross and I talk with our guests about the need for DevOps manifestos, the role tooling in DevOps transformations, reward structures in organizations, and hiring for DevOps.

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Guest Info:

Jason Walker – LinkedInTwitter

Dan Cundiff – LinkedInTwitter

You Build Kingdoms Because Your Mother Didn’t Love You

Mother-Child_face_to_faceDestruction of silos is all the rage in DevOps and has been since the beginning of the movement. Patrick Debois wrote a very intelligent piece on why silos exist and how they came about as a management strategy. While the post explains why hierarchy style of management came about in the US (General Motors and Sloan), it doesn’t cover some of the personal motivations as to why silos or management kingdoms come about.

Parkinson’s Law

Over the last several years Bike Shedding – or more appropriately Parkinson’s Law of Triviality – has become very popular in technology.  But in all the trivial debate, it seems more technologists have missed C. Northcote Parkinson’s other law, aptly named Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s Law simply states “…that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Any life long procrastinator will immediately know this is true, as does anyone that has attempted to do any level of project management. Further, Parkinson explains that this expansion of work, also creates an expansion of people doing the work. While Parkinson was focused on governmental organizations, Parkinson’s Law can also apply to other organizations.

Parkinson attributes this expansion of work to two factors:

Factor I.—An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals; and

Factor II.—Officials make work for each other.

The Law of Multiplication of Subordinates

Now as work expands, for whatever reason, Parkinson explains that the worker (worker A) must find ways to handle the workload. Parkinson explains that they must find a solution and have three options:

  1. Resign
  2. Split the work with colleague B
  3. Hire subordinates.

And as Parkinson points out, any rational actor is going to choose #3, and in doing so will at a minimum hire 2 subordinates, workers C and D. Hiring one subordinate would be effectively equal to #2, splitting the work with C instead of B, and thus increasing the pool of competition (A, B, and C would effectively be at the same level at this point). Thus the rational choice is to hire 2 or more subordinates, and in doing so A can leverage C and D against one another, holding a possible promotion out as a carrot in order to keep C and D in check.

Of course, work expands, eventually C and D become too busy, and thus they must make the same choice that A had to when they were hired. Rational actors as they are, they choose option #3, each hire 2 subordinates (at least), and please welcome E, F, G, and H to the company. Worker A now has a beautiful fucking kingdom; self-loathing because of an unloving mother notwithstanding.

The Law of Multiplication of Work

As Parkinson points out, seven people are now doing what one once did. Instead of simply expanding to fill time, work now begins to multiply. Why? Well the workers begin to create busy work for each other. The example Parkinson gives follows as such:

“An incoming document may well come before each of them in turn. Official E decides that it falls within the province of F, who places a draft reply before C, who amends it drastically before consulting D, who asks G to deal with it. But G goes on leave at this point, handing the file over to H, who drafts a minute, which is signed by D and returned to C, who revises his draft accordingly and lays the new version before A.”

Parkinson continues his example documenting the busy work that this kingdom produces, much of it useless, and leaves the example with A leaving the office for the day:

“Among the last to leave, A reflects, with bowed shoulders and a wry smile, that late hours, like grey hairs, are among the penalties of success.”

Success indeed my King, Success indeed.

Sound Familiar?

If at this point, you haven’t seen the slightest reflection of an org you know, work at, or have worked for then please let us all know the magical organizational utopia that employs (or has employed) you. Snark and rage aside, this really highlights the problems of many organizations; big kingdoms built to produce very little of value other than process and busy work. And that is why the DevOps Silo Rage gets so much airtime. Process and busy work are there to further the growth of the kingdom, not feed the soul of the individuals at the bottom.

This also highlights why DevOps focuses so heavily on borrowing from things like Lean Manufacturing. Lean emphasizes getting rid of unnecessary process and waste, in order to focus on value creation activities. It also empowers the individuals – E, F, G, and H in the example above – to shape how the value creation process should actually work and what processes are wasteful.

Now reflect on A. What if (s)he came in one day and E, F, G, and H wanted to revamp all the “meaningful” process that keeps them in check. What do most kings (or queens) do when a revolt happens? Kingdom in jeopardy, they squash the rebellion and execute the leaders of the rebellion. Sometimes the monarchy throws carrots to the rebels to appease them just enough to keep the rebellion down.

And that is my rub with the Marketing Driven DevOps drivel being produced today. It’s a fucking carrot to appease the rebels in order to keep the status quo, kingdoms intact, and incumbents in bed with the monarchy. It’s an illusion to pretend you’re doing something new, and at the end of the day thinking, “All this hard work is just my price for my success.”

Parkinson’s Law – The Economist – November 19th, 1955 – http://www.economist.com/node/14116121

The Evolution of an Idea

goats in towerFive months ago a presentation was given in Amsterdam. In that presentation a comment was made that I woke up with a goat in my hotel room. That coupled with the fact that almost every presentation at the conference had a picture of a grain silo in it made some to think they were at a farmer’s conference, not a technology conference.

A quick google search by Arjen Wolfs  found a calculus problem called “The Goat and Silo”, and a challenge was thrown down. I was challenged to build a presentation around “The Goat and Silo”. But as I researched this idea, and talked to others, I found that the idea was not as half cocked as I thought.

Initially, when I talked to people about the idea they thought I was crazy, but as I explained it more they realized the analogy of a goat tied to a silo was an excellent comparison to some IT organizations and the people within them. I wrote an article for Information Week describing the idea of hiring goats, and the response helped to validate the idea. Further validation on the idea was provided at Cloud Connect Chicago where I presented the ideas of goats, silos, and the misconception that silos must be “torn down”.

So now we circle back to Amsterdam, and the Cloudstack Collaboration Conference. I’m excited to be heading back to some of the people that initially hatched the concept, and reflect together with them on the journey over the last five months. Am I crazy (maybe), or do the ideas really reflect what we see on a day to day basis in IT. But what is more exciting is getting to interact with the great attendees and speakers, as well as attend the great talks scheduled.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/valkyrieh116/1209010274/in/photostream/