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.
"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 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
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.
- Paperback : 376 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0988262509
- ISBN-13 : 978-0988262508
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.03 x 1.01 x 9.01 inches
- Publisher : IT Revolution Press; Reprint edition (October 16, 2014)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #307,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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DevOps is this mythical assembly line of progress that gets code from point A to point B in record time, and by record time, I mean no time. Coded, auto-tested, out the door, bing, bang, boom. The book was an entertaining read (and/or listen) and the authors cleverly couch the concepts of DevOps into a story about a failed delivery system (The Phoenix Project) built ala WaterFall, versus a new system hastily assembled (heh, see what I did there?) on an impromptu assembly line and delivered in record time, performing brilliantly - when compared to the failed behemoth Phoenix Project.
So... here's the problem with DevOps, and the problem with this book.
Companies with a nightmarish legacy code base (delivered or not as-of-yet out the door) that are attempting to build DevOps are using the same people that created their behemoth nightmare in the first place. As does the company in the hypothetical story in the book. Worse. The CEO in the book is a horribly bad boss, making wrong decision after wrong decision (I am sure to ramp up the tension to illustrate the saving graces of DevOps). So, I can tell you definitively that ANY company with leadership like that would lose their brilliant techs almost immediately. The market is in desperate need of brilliant techs so there is zero possibility that they are going to stick around a cess pool of politics when they can get a signing bonus and a raise from a company already doing it better and faster, and all without the drama. I'm just saying. And in order to pull off a DevOps operation, you absolutely need brilliant techs. You need tight, well executed product code with sufficient testing hooks so you can automate as you go. So you need brilliant QA that can understand and/or code the hooks right along-side the devs.
In short, you need a whole lot more than a single Brent. You just do. And to imagine that there are a room full of brilliant techs writing broken down shoddy bloated code for Phoenix, but then can turn around and write the brilliantly architected code you need for the DevOps project... well... I am able to suspend belief when called upon, but this was more like taking it out back, shooting it, and burying it six feet under. I'm just sayin'.
And with that being said, I am a huge, ginormous fan of DevOps (and the book was a FUN read / listen, thus the 4 stars instead of 3). It just takes an incredible talent pool to pull DevOps off and books like this makes companies think they just have to implement this process with the talent they have and poof! instant quality software that can be delivered instantaneously! Woohoo! <sighs> They would be better served facing the reality of the mess they have, caused by (possibly) a lack of reasonable process, yah, but almost certainly by lack of talent as well. That's basically how they got where they got.
Off soap box now. Doing the tango. Eating Oreos. Feel free to join!
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.
Top reviews from other countries
With these realistic problems that no doubt face most of us the Pheonix Project lays out a number of tools and approaches that will lead the reader to think "damn, that's a good idea" or "that's an amazing way of looking at it". There's a moment in the book (I got it on kindle first, but now I have a physical copy that's getting the highlighter treatment) where one of the executives more or less goes "well dur well done you've figured it out" to which another goes, "well why didn't you think to explain this to everyone?" we often assume that the obvious is obvious to everyone, it's like a person watching poker on TV who can see everyone's cards going "well that outcome was obvious" clearly it wasn't to the people playing who couldn't see the cards.
All in all this book should be a must-read for everyone in IT or work with IT, it sets out the groundwork for implementing lean principles in IT and I wish I'd read it years ago. To be honest I think anyone with aspirations to help improve workflow through an organisation should read this, and the Goal and then sit down and think about the lessons presented within.
The story follows the life of the newly promoted IT Manager who is tasked with solving these problems and while tackling the issues he learns about DevOps. I found the book itself to be a very entertaining read and the concepts introduced both made sense withing the context of the story and reflect the real world issues a lot of us face as well.
The book does have a somewhat "accelerated" rate of adoption within the company, most real world scenarios would probably take considerably longer and be much more of a struggle with considerable more meeting - however I doubt many people who be enthralled by that. The story pacing certainly benefits from this approach.
The comparisons between IT and a typical manufacturing plant makes understanding the concepts underlying DevOps easier than speaking about them in the usual IT language.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who works in an IT / DevOps environment and wants an enjoyable read that also helps with the daily job.
From the frantic mess of the SAN upgrade (apparently) fighting the Payroll run in the opening section (we've all been there, done that, got the tee shirt <that is, if we are to be really honest with ourselves, folks, eh?>), to Brent and his knowledge of everything, with nothing documented.......
I grimaced at the developer who'd had to do a rushed change that broke, gone on holiday, and no-one knew. We all know that one.....
Its a gripping read, though understanding the mindset of Erik the guru is hard at times, and I'd have liked a little more domestic background.
I'm not depressed at all, no I'm fine. Really. Thanks. *inaudible weeping*