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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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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 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 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
For me the most important take-away is the distinction between planned work and unplanned work, and how destructive the unplanned type can be when unfettered. I've always known this intuitively, and indeed was the very stuff I fought on a daily basis while doing DevOps at Amazon, but until this book, have never been able to articulate it in such simple, effective terms.
Of equal importance is the concept of wait time as a function of resource utilization (meaning resources of the human variety) in that "as resource utilization goes past eighty percent, wait time goes through the roof." Simple enough concept, and we apply it effectively against resources like TCP/IP network utilization, factory work centers, system IO, and other non-human resources, but when it comes to people, we feel we have to have every minute saturated at 100% even in the face of empirical evidence. This is why that ticket to the network team to open a port in the firewall comes with a disclaimer of 4 days SLA to complete the 20 second task: we have overloaded our teams' time. They're doing sooo much work that it's nearly impossible to get anything done! :-) Perhaps that's the brilliance of "20% time" at places like Google. If you build that time buffer into your cultural expectations, over-scheduling a person or a team becomes less likely.
This book has me thoroughly engrossed. I love that it's written in story form rather than a dry how-to form. The story of Bill, Patty, John, Wes, and gang is all of us. The story is incredibly relatable to anyone who has spent any significant time in IT, especially in a corporate environment. It's so relatable that everyone I've talked to who has read the book has thrown it a number of times. The emotions it brings out of you while you read the unreasonable demands, the bickering, the REALITY is just overpowering. But you still walk across the room, pick the lamp up, grab the book from behind the table, and keep reading. You NEED to know what happens next. Everything makes sense and you feel as though they are solving your own IT process problems.
I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone in IT but most especially a corporate IT environment. Even if you are "just a server guy" or "just the service desk", read it. Everyone in IT should understand these principles. I can't recommend this enough.
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.
"The Phoenix Project" fictionalizes the relationship between IT OPS and DEV groups, focusing on the IT manager, his peers and individual contributors. It lays bare all those familiar problems we've all seen for decades. It relates those problems to issues seen in other industries since industry was invented in a way that's clear, easy to visualize, easy to relate to, and entertaining to read.
We all have our Brent. We shouldn't have ONE Brent, we should have a team of Brents. We all have our shop floor, our regular direction changing, our wasted cycles on rework and missing peer review. We all have our puppies, when all we really need is cattle. This book explains it all in a quick, enticing, educational read.
If you're in IT in any role, but especially a sysadmin, software engineer, operations manager or architect, you should read the book.