Today was a red letter day in the DevOps world. Besides DevOps Connect: CD Summit’s being held in Atlanta and Berlin today. It was also the day of the highly anticipated release of the DevOps Handbook. The book was over five years in the making. It contains over forty case studies of real organizations and their DevOps journeys. I had a chance to chat with Gene Kim about the DevOps Handbook today. The audio of which is below.
The authors of the book are some of the leading lights in the DevOps world: Gene Kim, acclaimed author of the Phoenix Project, Jez Humble, author of Continuous Delivery and Lean Enterprise, Patrick Debois, who coined the term DevOps and the one and only John Willis, @batchagalupe. All four put a lot of time in reviewing each case study and picking from the many different examples the best ones for the book.
The case studies are organized into examples of each of the three ways that were espoused in the Phoenix Project. So while the DevOps Handbook is a very different style book than the Phoenix Project, which was a novel, it continues common themes. According to Gene, the DevOps Handbook is a prescriptive guide showing patterns that repeat themselves across multiple examples.
The book itself is available on Amazon (link above), as well as other book sellers and from the IT Revolution site itself.
Gene also talks a bit about the upcoming DevOps Enterprise Summit in San Fransisco this November. He gives us his top three reasons why he is really excited about this years event.
Below is the streaming audio of our conversation. We wanted to publish this ASAP, so are putting it up before the written transcript of our conversation is complete. We will append it to this article when it is complete. In the meantime enjoy the conversation and let us know what you think of the book!
If you read up to here, you deserve a special bonus. Here is a link for a download of 100+ pages from the DevOps Handbook to get you started. Enjoy!
Alan Shimel: Hi, everyone. Alan Shimel – DevOps.com here for another DevOps Chat. This is a special edition DevOps Chat with none other than Gene Kim. Gene, welcome.
Gene Kim: Hey, Alan. Always great to hang out with you. Thanks so much for having me on.
Alan Shimel: Thank you. Gene, you know a big day for Gene Kim, IT Revolution – John Willis, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois. The official release of the long and anticipated [laughter] or much anticipated book – The DevOps Handbook.
Gene Kim: Yeah. Five and a half years in the making and hopefully people will stop making George R. R. Martin jokes to me. [Laughs]
Alan Shimel: Gotcha. Well, you know it’s funny. I’m here in Atlanta recording this at an event we were putting on and John Willis was the keynote and he said the same thing. He said, “Please, if you’re doing DevOps it shouldn’t take you five years to do the book, but it took us – but you’ll do your DevOps faster.” But you know what? Anything worthwhile is worth waiting for, Gene and certainly high, high expectations with this book
Gene Kim: You know, John and I have talked a lot in the last couple of weeks and one of the things we keep talking about is just how much we learned in the writing process. I mean it’s just a – even looking back I guess when I first met John six years ago and how much – we’re definitely kindred spirits and I’m also including Patrick Debois and Jez in this as well, but this conversation that John and I were having was as much as we thought we knew six years ago just even looking at how much we learned last three years is just amazing and I think we’re both kind of shaking our head at how much – almost the assumptions we had in our head to think that we could have been done by 2013, so I’m just so thrilled that so much that I’m learning made it into the book and I’m just so thrilled with the way the book turned out and I especially love the fact that it has 48 case studies and a lot of it came out of the DevOps Enterprise Summit in terms of how people are putting these principles and practices to work in large, complex organizations like Target, Nordstrom, Raytheon, Nationwide Insurance, Capital One and so forth, so I’m just thrilled to death.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. And Gene, I don’t want to minimize 48 case studies and all that we’ve heard. It’s a tremendous body of work here, right? But what –
Gene Kim: Yeah, yeah. Sorry.
Alan Shimel: No, no. I was going to say. It’s a tremendous body of work.
Gene Kim: Yeah. So, [laughs] one of the things that we made as a bonus for people who pre-ordered the book was actually a lot of the dropped case studies – so in order to keep the book below 450 pages, we had to take out 20,000 words.
Alan Shimel: Uh-huh.
Gene Kim: And so there was a lot of stuff that I actually was fighting tooth and nail to try to keep in the book, but eventually senior has prevailed and you know I definitely saw that you have to actually be able to carry the book
Alan Shimel: We might –
We might see on late night TV sometime outtakes, bloopers and outtakes of The DevOps Handbook.
Gene Kim: Yeah. Exactly. So we’ve actually made that available to some folks and – but then I think it really does represent what we thought were the most important parts and there’s a lot of stuff that we had to cut that I thought was also very useful and valuable. So it’s been an incredible journey putting this book together with my fellow colleagues.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. So Gene, we may have some listeners out here who (a) haven’t read the book obviously. It’s just coming out today. But (b) maybe you’re not familiar in how this book really is a very different book than The Phoenix Project, right? I mean they’re totally different genres, right?
Gene Kim: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a good point. So, The Phoenix Project is of course a novel that was I think really intended win the hearts and minds of the technology community at large and really describe in vivid detail what does the DevOps problem look like? Which DevOps is really the solution for and one of the biggest comments that we got was, “Wow. I see this problem that I didn’t even know I had whether I’m dev, test, or operations or information security, but – and I totally want to replicate the outcomes that that amazing unicorn team did at the end of the book. How did they do that?
And that’s what really The DevOps Handbook is designed to do is to be that non-fiction prescriptive guide to really inform those people going on the journey with hopefully – with what they need to know – certainly everything that we’ve learned in terms of what are the principles behind DevOps that allow organizations to have this fast flow of work from dev through tests through ops and the infosec, so we’re creating value to the customer while providing world class reliability security and stability whether we’re – regardless of where the value stream we’re in and so the book certainly expands upon the three ways that was first introduced in The Phoenix Project.
The three ways being the principles of flow, feedback and continuous experimentation of learning, but we also talk more in the beginning about the principles from which you can derive all these patterns from and we have a big section around how to get started, how to organize those teams, what are the various adoption patterns whether – when dev is driven by ops, by chief architects or by developers.
Alan Shimel: Uh-huh. It’s very interesting. I actually just had this conversation yesterday with a bunch of folks who are kind of – you know, there’s always doubters, Gene, right? So I had one guy telling me that DevOps will not truly succeed because it cannot succeed if led by developers. And I said, “Well, who said DevOps can’t be led by ops?” Right? Or –
I mean we’re –
Gene Kim: Exactly right. And those were the questions that we set out to answer by doing the DevOps Enterprise Summit, right? Is to really through experience reports really capture what those journeys look like – who it was led by, where they fit in the org charts.
Alan Shimel: Yep
Gene Kim: What the outcomes were and in some of the book we talk about the – where that source of energy can come from, what the outcomes and the transitions look like from those perspectives and what the implications are to how we design our organizations and I just love the fact that we’ve been actually now to document that in writing as opposed to buried in 50 videos.
Alan Shimel: Yes. Well, we – I don’t knock the videos. I do a lot of them. [Laughs]
Gene Kim: No, I love the videos.
Alan Shimel: [Laughs] I’m only kidding. But Gene –
Gene Kim: No, really. I love this book from The Danish Project. It actually came from Paul Muller, VP at HP.
Alan Shimel: Uh-huh.
Gene Kim: And he said, “Messiah’s are great, but scripture is better.”
Alan Shimel: Uh-huh.
Gene Kim: There’s still no better, more viral mechanism to spread knowledge than written word, so I love videos as much as you. And I depend upon them a lot in my own work, but in terms of the way that – ideas for the fastest – still through books.
Alan Shimel: Agreed. But you know what, Gene? An interesting – and I want to talk about the book, but just a quick aside – when we talk about the body of knowledge when we talk about the lessons that you’ve been able to glean from research, we would be bereft if we didn’t talk about the Puppet – the state of DevOps survey that you’ve done with Puppet Lab or Puppets – no longer Puppet Lab – with Puppet all these years.
Gene Kim: Sure.
Alan Shimel: All of the DevOps Enterprise Summit transformation stories now going on into what? Our third year of that, right? The 48 case studies here in the book and frankly – I mean I know you. You’re out talking to people all year around, listening and anytime – your ears perk up when you hear someone talk about their story, so though these are 48 that make it and as you said some wound up on the cutting room floor, the body of knowledge of research that’s gone into where we are today is phenomenal. I mean it’s really some piece of work when you look back at it, no?
Gene Kim: Oh, yeah. Absolutely, man. I loved the way you framed it. I mean I think kind of the book that we wanted to write was one, we wanted to make sure it was grounded in sound principles, right? And so there we looked to – did the body of knowledge around lean and theory of constraints and plan operations and that goes back 50 years of knowledge – you know, go back 100 years and so that’s I would say the principles and then the primary research around the state of DevOps report. This is the work that I’ve done with Jez Humble, Dr. Nicole Forsgren and Puppet that spans 26,000 respondents over 4 years, so this I think helps us establish validity or confirm validity of these practices
And then the third part is the experiential part of observation, right? The experience reports often told at conferences, including the DevOps Enterprise new Summit and I think maybe just to show a little bit of the method behind the madness. I mean so many of the talks at DevOps Enterprise are specifically – they were invited just because they were those experienced reports that we were looking for to help fill out The DevOps Handbook and that also attracted other likeminded thinkers, which has just been so great.
Alan Shimel: Yeah
Gene Kim: So, I think it really take all those approaches really to I think kind of the best – especially business books out there are those that kind of have that kind of quality to them.
Alan Shimel: Yeah. Gene, one other thing just on the book and then I want to turn over to devs for a moment and that is a lot of people thought we were going – it would be the DevOps Cookbook if you will where there would be a recipe of step-by-step, but that’s not really what the handbook is about, is it
Gene Kim: Yeah. In fact it will be – yeah. In The Phoenix Project there’s still – in the editions that are out there right now, they still have DevOps Cookbook in them and we renamed it to DevOps Handbook and I think the – I would say this book is definitely a prescriptive guide, but not necessarily saying that you have to do these things in sequential order, but it is still prescriptive in the fact that you have patterns, right? That we have each one of the three ways.
There’s at least 100 plus pages on each principle on patterns that help fulfill flow, feedback and continuous experimentation learning, so by no means do you have to do them in order. You don’t have to do all of them, but I think what’s so great about patterns, it really does – anyone who has seen the transmission stories, whether they’re told that velocity, whether it’s Google, Amazon, Twitter or Facebook or at DevOps Enterprises, Target, Nordstrom, Nationwide Insurance, Capital One and Disney, right? You can’t help but observe the patterns, right? There is an emergent set of paths that these organizations take and so the goal is really to help to write a prescriptive path so that other organizations can achieve those same outcomes with hopefully less trial and error.
Alan Shimel: Sure. Sure. Gene, before we turn to devs, the book is generally available today. People can order it on Amazon. Can they order it directly from IT Revolution?
Gene Kim: They can. In fact there’s a whole great – a bunch of great retailers that you can order the book from including Barnes and Noble, 800-CEO-Read, and you can buy it directly through IT Revolution and I think the reason why people would do that is right now it’s probably the cheapest way they can get the book internationally, but also there’s great retailers like Amazon UK, Book Seller. There’s a fabulous shop in the UK that actually sends books for free internationally and so that’s also a wonderful service
Alan Shimel: Very cool. Very cool. All right Gene. We’re probably going to go over time. I’m sorry. I apologize, but let’s quickly talk – turn over and talk about the upcoming DevOps Enterprise Summit in San Francisco. It’s the third San Francisco summit – fourth DevOps Enterprise Summit if we count London, right? I’m excited. Of course I’ll be there. We’re going to do videos again and looking forward to hearing some perhaps new transformation stories and hearing – catch up some of the people we’ve heard from before, but give our audience a little – what are you looking forward to? What’s getting you jazzed about this event?
Gene Kim: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean having coming off two years of DevOps Enterprise in the U.S. and we just did London a couple of months ago with DevOps Enterprise in London. I can still say this is going to be the best DevOps Enterprise yet. What excites me? I love all the conferences, [laughs] but I’m super excited for this one. Let me give you my top three
One is we get to see a bunch of speakers that we’ve come to know and love and they’re coming back again and telling about their third year and so one of the neatest things that I just feel so honored and privileged is that we can chronicle the journey at Target, Nationwide Insurance, Capital One, Raytheon and their – CSG – all these organizations – we get to hear kind of – they’re going to summarize – here’s what your one and your two were like, which we’ve heard from before and then here’s the challenges that remain. Here’s changes and their responsibilities and here’s what they’re doing about it. And I just love that because yeah, I think most conferences you – I remember going to many conferences and you see the same person and sometimes they’re even giving the same talk and you’re like, “Why am I seeing the same person?” But in this case, right? It’s almost like a documentary, right?
Alan Shimel: Yeah.
Gene Kim: Where you got to see – follow them on their journey. So I think that’s pretty unusual in conferences and I hope everyone appreciates that as much as I do and I’m hoping that people will look forward to that. The second thing I’m really excited about is that we have more companies telling their journey that are – of which are very different than we’ve heard from before. Three come to mind for me. One is the adoption of DevOps inside of the Forge.mil program, so this is supporting the DoD across all of the armed services. And this involves classified systems.
Alan Shimel: Right.
Gene Kim: And since this is a really neat story of like – a heroic story of how they were able to get DevOps outcome even though they never actually got to see the classified production systems.
Alan Shimel: [Laughs] It seems –
Gene Kim: Astonishing
Alan Shimel: Yeah. It’s kind of working in the dark.
Gene Kim: Yeah. I know. And still it doesn’t matter how much harder it is when you’re in the dark
Alan Shimel: Yep
Gene Kim: The other one is we have Susanna Brown and Benjamin Chan from American Airlines, so we’ve never had anyone from the aviation industry before, so this is – their area of responsibility include most of the non-ecommerce properties of flight operations, flight safety. All that stuff. I love that stuff. And we have the CTO from Hyatt speaking and so we’ve never had someone from the hospitality industry present before and so those are both keynote talks.
Alan Shimel: Fantastic.
Gene Kim: I think that’s – yeah. The third think I’m looking forward to is we actually have two luminaries that I think almost anyone in the DevOps community holds in incredibly high esteem. One is John Allspaw from the famous Allspaw/Hammond presentation in 2009. He’s CTO at Etsy and John Willis, DevOps Handbook co-author. He’s going to be interviewing him about his journey now as a CTO of a publically traded company and one of the talks I’m also looking forward to is from Mark Imbriaco, so he is famous because he was the head of operations at 37 Signals
Alan Shimel: Right.
Gene Kim: So EMG’s Basecamp or Campfire, right? That’s him. Heroku, DigitalOcean, LivingSocial. Oh, he was the head of ops at GitHub for many years.
Alan Shimel: Yeah.
Gene Kim: So in my mind these are some of the most storied, famous properties in our –
Alan Shimel: Well, no. He’s a great – he’s left a trail of success wherever he’s went with that stuff. It’s pretty interesting. One of the things you – you mentioned American Airlines – we had Dan Glass talk at our regular DevOps at RSA last year actually and they are – they’re doing the whole DevSecOps thing and I’m looking forward to that AA one. That ought to be good and AA I mean American Airlines. Yeah.
Gene Kim: Absolutely.
Alan Shimel: Yeah. Good stuff there. And Gene, just – I think early bird pricing may have just ended maybe today or tomorrow. I don’t remember. I get your emails all the time on it, but people can still sign up, right?
Gene Kim: Yes. Registration is still open and anyone who is interested in hearing about how large compass organizations are transforming and the amazing, heroic journey that they’re on. We would love to see you there.
Alan Shimel: Fantastic. And dates, Gene? Just maybe in case someone is wondering.
Gene Kim: Yep. November 7th to 9th at the Union Square Hilton in San Francisco.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. I will be there, so I encourage our listeners if possible to come by.
Gene Kim: And get in line to be interviewed by the famous Alan Shimel, right?
Alan Shimel: Exactly. [Laughs] I will be doing video interviews there. So Gene, what are you doing with your free time?
Gene Kim: [Laughs] Well, boy. You know, right now my planning horizon is about 15 minutes ahead of me. Everything – right now I’m spending a lot of time around the DevOps Enterprise Summit just getting ready. We have – I’m working with all the speakers in terms of making sure that those talks are as successful as they can be for both the prior community objectives as well as the attendees and we’re doing something new, which is – I think as adult learners we tend to learn less from theory and we learn more from experimental learning and that’s why we do – we share experience reports, but we’re actually – for that reason we’re kind of – we’re having facilitated discussion sessions.
We’re calling them DevOps workshops around the top problem areas that have identified by the community, so that’s organizational design needing change, information security and compliance, minimal competency – essential competencies for our leadership and so those are small group sessions. Each one of them will have an assigned facilitator to really help maximize the learning within that group, so I’m super excited about that.
So yeah, I guess the long and short, I’m working on helping make sure that DevOps Handbook, the people that are looking for it, that they know about it and that DevOps Enterprise is going to be successful and even more successful than prior years.
Alan Shimel: Fantastic. Well, Gene Kim. We’re way over time. I apologize, but it’s always a pleasure just catching up and just listening to everything you work on energizes me, so continued success with all of this, looking forward to the book. I think we’ll probably be doing something on DevOps.com with maybe a free chapter or something you know, that –
Gene Kim: Oh, yeah. Oh, I want to say – you’re right. Thank you so much. Yeah. So, we will make available the first 140 pages of The DevOps Handbook. So if that’s of interest, we’ll have instructions on how to get it, so if you are so –
Alan Shimel: I’m putting it together. Yep. I’ll try to include it in with this article and audio file for people who want it. I have the background already, Gene. I’ve been working with your team and we’re on it. I’ll do my best.
Gene Kim: Yeah. Great. So that is almost a third of the book if you take out the index and the footnotes and the endnotes, so if you think you’re interested, I think the best way to find out for sure is actually to download the excerpt and see it for yourself and hopefully it will be of value to you.
Alan Shimel: Okay. Gene Kim, principle author of The DevOps Handbook.
Gene Kim: No, no. Just one of the co-authors.
Alan Shimel: Just one of many? Okay. One of the co-authors of – we might as well mention them all – Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois and the one and only John Willis. So great job, Gene. I’m looking forward to the DevOps Enterprise Summit in November in San Francisco and to everything else, I want to thank you for – well, number one for getting me into DevOps as you know, but number two, just for all the work you do and the research and the leg work and running around and cheerleading and you know what? You’re a good man, Gene Kim.
Gene Kim: And Alan, it’s always so fun to be on the spinner with you as well.
Alan Shimel: All right, then. I will be in touch. Congratulations again on the book.
Gene Kim: Thank you so much and see you in a couple of weeks in San Francisco.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. Gene Kim, author of DevOps – one of the authors of DevOps Handbook, The Phoenix Project, the man behind DevOps Enterprise Summit. Thanks for being our guest today on DevOps Chat. This is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com.