What could make three developers come to work for three days at 4 am? It wasn't pager duty; it was the DevOps Enterprise Summit 2021! Dakota, John, and Kevin are thankful that Omnitech invests in professional development by encouraging and supporting conference events and learning opportunities. We were glad to be together to talk about what we've learned and help keep each other on track.
The DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES) 2021 was an outstanding conference by Gene Kim and the IT Revolution staff. All the top names of the DevOps industry were there: Gene Kim, Dr. Mik Kersten, Jon Smart, Dr. Steve Strear, and Ron Westrum, to name a few. Their use of pre-recorded presentations made the conference a smooth experience and allowed the presenters to be available in Slack for questions and conversations during their talks. We felt we were drinking from a firehose with all the inspiring experience/journey stories, new ideas to consider, and new tools from vendors. Many times we felt a bit out of place with all the attendees, who ranged from C-level executives to other engineers like ourselves, but people seemed very friendly and inclusive in the virtual spaces.
For breaks between sessions, we took some walks but also participated in some "ask me anything," virtual Zoom demos, and a few "birds of a feather" (we were a bit overwhelmed and tired, so we didn't make too many of those) in Gather (a fun way to gather virtually). We had a great time finding all the hidden codes and even won some DOES 2021 US passes.
Kevin asked, "What is DevOps?" in Slack and got some answers!
"The best definition I've heard is the one coined by Jon Smart (author of Sooner Safer Happier) that identifies the outcomes you want/get: Better. Value. Sooner. Safer. Happier. BVSSH" ~ Jeff Gallimore
"Not something you can predefine, it is more about the journey" ~Thomas Jachman
"I love Jon Smart's definition — can't imagine a better way to characterize a better way of working!" ~ Gene Kim
There were so many good ideas and topics we want to share with other engineers and our clients. We found common themes and have attempted to categorize them.
DevOps and Improving is a Journey
Many companies have gone on the journey. Some have started from the ground up but then need high-level buy-in to make lasting change. There are plateaus and then the climb to the challenge. Sometimes, setbacks require experimentation, continuous learning, and psychological safety to fail, try again, and celebrate the wins. The companies that presented had some amazing improvements and wins by going along the DevOps journey.
Objectives & Key Results:
Objectives that focus on outcome over output are measurable, empowering, and bring value to the business.
"Fascinating how OKRs can either impede, or accelerate flow, depending on how they are adopted and what they cascade down, and how far they cascade." ~ Dr. Mik Kersten
Flow is a measure of the effectiveness of your value stream and all about removing bottlenecks and continuous improvements using OKRs.
The happiness and health of your team are important and are correlated to flow.
Security needs to be an early practice in our processes. Keeping our software and dependencies updated is the first step.
We need to protect our Open Source supply chain. Many tools help automate these checks.
Community of Practice
Learning groups that allow people to focus on specific technologies but also serve the business as a whole.
Deploy vs. Release
Continuously deploy, release when ready. No downtime releases and feature flags enable the developers to get their code out of a "Pending" status and hand off power to the business to decide when to make it live.
Taking risks enables you to be competitive in the marketplace. Many mentioned that we should have risk stories integrated in our boards etc.
We heard about a wide variety of team structures and were introduced to a book around Team Topologies. Most of the topologies take vertical slices of the organization to break down silos.
Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)
Lots of talk about managing risk and chaos engineering. Being in the cloud, keeping metrics, responding to catastrophes. These are all related to SRE.
Building a common set of tools, practices, and documentation that members of your team understand and resonate with.
We had a great time and have so much to learn and discuss. We know this will help us influence and improve Omnitech and help other organizations on their DevOps journeys.
You can watch videos for free from their library: https://myresources.itrevolution.com/. There are also great ebooks, podcasts, and other material available. We've read many of Gene Kim's books for lunch and learns (see our past blogs), and Kevin has a list of even more: https://www.aligneddev.net/blog/2021/improving-organizations-readings/.