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The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by [Kim, Gene, Behr, Kevin , Spafford, George]
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4.7 out of 5 stars 1,446 customer reviews

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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: #4,827 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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: 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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Phoenix Project belongs to that rare category of books: a business novel. It's written as fiction but it teaches us something serious. The most well known book in this category is The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt. The Goal is a long-term best selling business book and required reading for nearly every MBA student for the last twenty-five years.

What The Goal did for lean manufacturing, The Phoenix Project will do for managing IT.

Bill Palmer is the reluctant protagonist who is thrust into managing IT Operations. He inherits a world of hurt: new business innovation projects are so far behind that the corporation's ability to remain competitive is threatened; standard business functions like payroll, data storage, and point of sale systems suffer from recurrent outages like lights flickering during a storm; and the whole IT organization is so buried firefighting that critical maintenance is neglected.

I immediately resonated with the situation. In fact, if you work in a business of any size, in IT or not, you'll quickly find similarities.

In my day job, over the years I've found myself wondering why small startups can outcompete two hundred person strong development teams, why certain deployments are multi-day affairs that nearly always fail, why we must wait months for to release software, why the releases that do get to the light of day are nearly always missing key features, and why we seem incapable of fixing bugs so awful that we drive our customers away.

In The Phoenix Project, the protagonist Bill Palmer encounters all of this and more.
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