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The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win Paperback – October 16, 2014
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From the Publisher
The Three Ways Explained | The Phoenix Project
In The Phoenix Project, we describe the underpinning principles that all the DevOps patterns can be derived from as 'The Three Ways'. It is intended to describe the values and philosophies that guide DevOps processes and practices.
The First Way is about the left-to-right flow of work from Development to IT Operations to the customer. To maximize flow, we need small batch sizes and intervals of work, never passing defects to down-stream work centers and to constantly optimize for the global goals (as opposed to local goals such as Dev feature completion rates, Test find/fix ratios or Ops availability measures).
The necessary practices include continuous build, integration and deployment, creating environments on demand, limiting work in process, and building safe systems and organizations that are safe to change.
The Second Way is about the constant flow of fast feedback from right-to-left at all stages of the value stream, amplifying it to ensure that we can prevent problems from happening again or enable faster detection and recovery. By doing this, we create quality at the source, creating or embedding knowledge where we need it.
The necessary practices include 'stopping the production line' when our builds and tests fail in the deployment pipeline, constantly elevating the improvement of daily work over daily work, creating fast automated test suites to ensure that code is always in a potentially deployable state, creating shared goals and shared pain between Development and IT Operations and creating pervasive production telemetry so that every-one can see whether code and environments are operating as designed and that customer goals are being met.
The Third Way is about creating a culture that fosters two things: continual experimentation, which requires taking risks and learning from success and failure and understanding that repetition and practice is the prerequisite to mastery.
Experimentation and risk taking are what enable us to relentlessly improve our system of work, which often requires us to do things very differently than how we’ve done it for decades. And when things go wrong, our constant repetition and daily practice is what allows us to have the skills and habits that enable us to retreat back to a place of safety and resume normal operations.
The necessary practices include creating a culture of innovation and risk taking (as opposed to fear or mindless order taking) and high trust (as opposed to low trust, command-and-control), allocating at least twenty percent of Development and IT Operations cycles towards non- functional requirements, and constant reinforcement that improvements are encouraged and celebrated.
Bill is an IT manager at Parts Unlimited. It's Tuesday morning and on his drive into the office, Bill gets a call from the CEO.
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One of the best parts of the book was actually after the fictional plot ended, and the authors took the extra time to collect the concepts presented and revist them in a brief summary at the end. I hoped for this, as going back through The Phoenix Project to find each in turn, and learn more would have been difficult. If I could suggest to the authors an improvement, it would be to break the 4th wall during the fictional telling of the plot, and provide footnotes or references to the reader referencing where in the summary section they can read a bit more about a given concept. Nothing would be lost by this approach, as the reader quicky realizes the point and purpose of the plot anyways.
Overall, The Phoenix Project provides an easy way for non-business people to get their feet wet with process improvements, without making the explanations and concepts too burdensome. I find myself quoting passages with co-workers who've also read the book, realizing that all too many of the scenarios presented are real life problems we face everyday (though perhaps less severely than in the Phoenix Project.) As such, I know I've already taken something away from the book, even if I won't have a chance to master every improvement, or even experiment with them all. It provides a new way of thinking about software development, and all the organizations it impacts. Four stars.
This book is certainly about the power of DevOps done right but, for me, it reenforced how powerful leading through motivation, mobilization and empowerment can be. I got a lot out of this book.
My only criticism would be how long it is. The author could have delivered the same message with the same impact in a lot less pages. On the flip side, it's well written so if you're up for it, it's a fun read.