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The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 1,240 customer reviews

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Length: 376 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


“The Phoenix Project is a must read for business and IT executives struggling with the growing complexity of IT.” —Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO, Red Hat, Inc.

"The Phoenix Project is a great way to get non-technical managers to understand what developers do. Every person involved in a failed IT project should be forced to read this book." —Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly Media

"A must-read for anyone wanting to transform their IT to enable the business to win. Told through an absorbing story that is impossible to put down, the authors teach the essential lessons in an accessible way. Every business leader and IT professional should read this book!"  -- Mike Orzen, co-author of the the Shingo Prize winning book Lean IT - Enabling and Sustaining Your Lean Transformation

"This book is a gripping read that captures brilliantly the dilemmas that face companies which depend on IT, and offers real-world solutions. As Deming reminds us, 'It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.'  The Phoenix Project will have a profound effect on IT, just as Dr. Goldratt's book The Goal did for manufacturing." -- Jez Humble, co-author of the Jolt award-winning book Continuous Delivery and Principal at ThoughtWorks Studios

"This book is the modern day version of The Goal.  Today, our constraints aren't robots inside our factories, but it's how we manage technologies like Tomcat and Java that power our most critical projects and applications. This book continues the journey that began with Shewhart, Deming, Ohno and Dr. Goldratt, and shows us how to diminish our modern constraints to help the business win." -- John Willis, VP Client Services and Enablement, enStratus, Host of "DevOps Cafe"

"This is the IT swamp draining manual for anyone who is neck deep in alligators." -- Adrian Cockcroft, Cloud Architect at Netflix

"This is the most amazing IT book I have ever read. Though it follows a fictitious company, the events are so real life that anyone in industry is going to relate to the story.  Buy this book, read this book and then hand it to a senior manager in your organization." -- Stephen Northcutt, Fellow and President, SANS Technology Institute

"This insightful walk through the pain and success of business will trigger deja vu for anyone who has ever run afoul of their complete reliance in their IT organization. I see my own experiences in every stage of the story."  -- Dr. Thomas Longstaff, Program Chair, Computer Science, Engineering for Professionals, The Johns Hopkins University

About the Author

Gene Kim is a multiple award winning CTO, researcher and author. He was founder and CTO of Tripwire for 13 years and has worked with some of the top Internet companies on improving deployment flow and increasing the rigor around IT operational processes. In 2007, ComputerWorld added Gene to the "40 Innovative IT People Under The Age Of 40" list, and was given the Outstanding Alumnus Award by the Department of Computer Sciences at Purdue University.
Kevin Behr is the founder of the Information Technology Process Institute (ITPI) and the Chief Strategist for the CIO and Board Advisory Practice at Assemblage Pointe, where Kevin has built a unique consulting practice that mentors and coaches IT organizations to increase their business effectiveness and competitive advantage now and over the long term through the application of improvement sciences.
George Spafford is a Research Director for Gartner covering process improvement in IT operations that leverage best practice references. He is a prolific author and speaker, and has consulted and conducted training on strategy, IT management, information security and overall service improvement in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and China.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1483 KB
  • Print Length: 376 pages
  • Publisher: IT Revolution Press (January 10, 2013)
  • Publication Date: January 10, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988262576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988262577
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,255 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I am a SysAdmin and have just finished "The Phoenix Project." I've reviewed this book on my blog, so if this sounds familiar perhaps that's where you read this text. However, I would also like to share it here for future readers that purchase the book through Amazon.

*The TL;DR Review*

The book is a fictional account of a director of IT at a large enterprise; an enterprise that has a deeply flawed IT organization that is dragging the company into destruction. He is quickly turned into acting VP of Operations after the sudden departure of the last VP. Bill has 90 days to turn the IT department around or face the dual threat of a total IT outsourcing and the failing company being split apart by an aggressive and impatient board of directors.

The storytelling is poor. The concepts themselves are great, however not explained to the depth that you would expect from a 300 page book. If you have a genuine interest in doing better as an IT person in general, pick the book up and see if it excites your interest in the various operational methods to getting things done for the business using IT. This is not a management book. This is not a developer book. This is not an operations, sysadmin, cloud, ITIL, infrastructure, or $buzzword book. This is about workflow management done from a factory background that can be applied to anyone's work. If you're skeptical of the so-called DevOps movement, don't be afraid of this book.

I'd give it 3.5 out of five stars if Amazon allowed me to give half stars, however when I pressed myself to fall on a solid number, I chose three rather than four.

*The Long Review*

The story centers around Bill Palmer, a late-thirties former marine with a wife and two kids.
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Format: Hardcover
You've probably heard of Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford before. They are the three amigos responsible for The Visible Ops Handbook, which can be found in the book pile of every good IT operator. Their new book, The Phoenix Project, follows the format of Eliyahu Goldratt's classic, The Goal, and I was lucky enough to be given an advance copy to review.

Told from the perspective of newly-minted VP of IT Operations Bill Palmer, it describes the turnaround of failing auto parts company Parts Unlimited. This is to be achieved through the delivery of the eponymous Phoenix Project, a classic "too big to fail" software project designed to build a system which will revive the fortunes of the company. To quote (p51):

"The plot is simple: First, you take an urgent date-driven project, where the shipment date cannot be delayed because of external commitments made to Wall Street or customers. Then you add a bunch of developers who use up all the time in the schedule, leaving no time for testing or operations deployment. And because no one is willing to slip the deployment date, everyone after Development has to take outrageous and unacceptable shortcuts to hit the date.

"The results are never pretty. Usually, the software product is so unstable and unusable that even the people who were screaming for it end up saying that it's not worth shipping.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had the pleasure of meeting Gene Kim in October of 2011 at the Security B-Sides conference in Portland, OR. He had just presented on the concept for his novel, and I was immediately intrigued. It seemed like he intended to bring the concept of the business parable to IT management. I joked it looked like a Who Moved My Cheese? for the ITIL crowd.

In speaking with Gene following his presentation, I thanked him in person for The Visible Ops Handbook: Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditable Steps (which I maintain is still the best $20 I ever spent). Through our conversation, he flagged me as the type of "boundary spanner" who would benefit from a more thorough reading of his new effort, and he nailed that assessment. I didn't want to put it down. The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win reads like a techo-thriller. I found it very engaging and definitely wanted to read the whole thing all in one sprint. I hadn't found myself that thoroughly engrossed in a read in quite some time.

The cast is spot-on. Each is clearly meant to represent a specific organizational perspective or archetype. If you aren't one of these characters, you at least know someone who is. A few may seem a little exaggerated or caricatured, but that is more from a sense of literary license and less in any manner to offend. The roles are readily identifiable and it is easy to see oneself as any member of the cast.
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