Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Larry Alton, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Jason Bloomberg, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Linux Containers, Open Source Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

Seven Habits of Highly Effective DevOps

In honor of Stephen R. Covey

As you may have heard by now, Stephen Covey (pictured below) – the author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” passed away this week. He published this book for the first time in 1989, just as I was entering the workforce and had a strong influence on how I analyzed about my own effectiveness. To honor him and his contribution to professional development and the millions of lives that he has touched, I thought I’d tailor his Seven Habits to make them even more relevant and prescriptive to AppDynamics users – Application Operations, DevOps & IT Operations professionals.

Managing mission-critical apps isn’t easy. There is a lot of pressure to “keep the trains running on time” in an environment where change is a given. Thus, it can be very easy to spend your day on what’s “urgent” or “hot” instead of what’s most “important”. This relates to habit #3 of the Seven Habits and perhaps my favorite. Luckily, we work with some really strong App Operations & DevOps teams who have figured out how to be the most effective and have the most impact at their company.

So, what are their secrets and how can Stephen Covey’s habits help Application Operations folks be more effective? What do the most effective Application Operations groups do to differentiate themselves and their company? Let’s dig in and look at each habit one at a time.

1. Be proactive

Ok. This concept is a no-brainer for folks in Operations. If you let things happen to-you (ie reactive), you’ll spend your whole day responding to angry users and line-of-business folks…trapped in endless war-room conference calls trying to figure out why something broke after-the-fact. At the most basic level, being pro-active can only happen if you have enough visibility into how your applications are working before any problem reaches a Severity-1 level. Pilots can’t fly a plane without the right set of gauges and instrumentation, so don’t put your team in the position of operating a mission-critical app without the right level of visibility. Having visibility puts you in control and allows you to be proactive.

2. Begin with the end in mind

Define what success is and what impact you want to have on your organization. Go beyond uptime and availability measures and think about how your work can contribute to the company’s revenue achievement, revenue growth, competitive advantage, customer satisfaction, etc. Thinking in these terms will better align you with your Line-of-Business (LOB) colleagues as well as enhance your job satisfaction. Our users who can say: “my company would have never been able to grow web sales by 35% last year without my contributions to scaling and operating our app” have a lot of job satisfaction.

3. Put first things first

In a nutshell, this habit instructs us to prioritize tasks based on importance, rather than urgency. It is an easy trap to “live in your inbox” or see half the day get wasted by chasing down false alarms. I like Covey’s 2×2 matrix and it’s a good five minute exercise to put all of our projects/tasks in this matrix to ensure we are spending the bulk of our week on things that are both important and urgent. Certainly, the right Operations tools and automation can help provide focus by prioritizing what work will have the most impact on the success of a mission critical application.

4. Think win-win

This is also a major tenet of the DevOps movement – If Dev, Ops, and LOB all have divergent goals and objectives…there will always be tension and conflict. As the Operations guy, take the initiative to find out what matters to your Dev and LOB counterparts and how they measure success. Once you’ve don that, align your goals and objectives with theirs and co-build a plan to get there. What most of the successful DevOps shops are doing is picking shared goals/objectives that matter to Dev/Ops/ LOB and then aligning their efforts to achieve those goals. When everyone is committed to the same goals and a shared plan to get there, a lot of the daily conflict/political infighting goes away.

5. Think first to understand, then to be understood

Application Operations can be hard. For most of our App Ops users, they didn’t architect or code the application they are responsible for, but there is a lot they must understand about it to operate it successfully. On top of that, if their shop is agile, their app is likely changing all the time and it can be near impossible to know how it has changed each time. With agile, the days of complete knowledge transfer and gated exit criteria seem to be gone, so you’ll need different approaches to understand what you need to know about the App to succeed. The right tools/ automation can help by automatically discovering what has changed and whether or not the new build is performing as well as the last build. Once you have this understanding – you’ll be in a better position to communicate to Dev/Test if/how/where the new build is performing poorly….and be listened to.

6. Synergize

This habit can often mean to use teamwork to reach goals unattainable by one person working alone. Often we hear Dev & Ops folks talk about the “blame game” that goes on inside their company and the acronym MTTI – “Mean-time-to-Innocence”…where each silo (network, database, application, server, storage) are all trying to prove that their area isn’t to blame for the latest problem. When the culture that exists between Dev and Ops is one that leads to finger-pointing rather than collaboration, then there is an opportunity for improvement. The DevOps movement has some good materials on how to enact a cultural change to enhance collaboration and teamwork.

7. Sharpen your saw

Continually look for ways to improve your knowledge and the way you do Operations. What we’ve seen a lot in the last 2 years is Infrastructure Ops folks re-defining themselves as AppOps or DevOps people. And they aren’t just changing their title. What this means is that they’ve changed the way they work, added to their skills, gained experience with new tools/automation (AppDynamics, Puppet, Chef, etc..). What I often see from folks that have embraced these new skills is a new level of confidence and job satisfaction. I hear a new pride when they say they are “Ops people who can code” or “Ops people who can troubleshoot App issues better than their peers”. If you are interested in taking this same journey, study the presentations on slideshare by Netflix and others on how they run Operations and what this has meant to their job definitions.

In the end, the habits and behaviors of highly effective Application Operation require a range of skills that go beyond learning a new way to use automation to improve availability and performance – these skills also include effective relationship management and goal alignment across teams, prioritization/time management, and continuous improvement. The good news is that most of the App Ops folks we work with seem naturally inclined to continually improve.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Jyoti Bansal

In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally.

DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
There is huge complexity in implementing a successful digital business that requires efficient on-premise and cloud back-end infrastructure, IT and Internet of Things (IoT) data, analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Applications. In the data center alone, there are physical and virtual infrastructures, multiple operating systems, multiple applications and new and emerging business and technological paradigms such as cloud computing and XaaS. And then there are pe...
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, will discuss how data centers of the future will be managed, how th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Corporation is a company developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality and wide variety of industrial computers and interface modules such as PCIs and PCI express. For more information, visit http://www.i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...