Deep into DevOps

On a colleague's recommendation, I ended up grabbing The Phoenix Project from my local library. Which has, pretty much since COVID, become my happy place. Not that it wasn't before, but the biggest thing I found myself missing during lockdowns was that I couldn't go to the library. Everything else I could cope with, but not being to access a library at my whim felt really, really bad. So I now make a point to visit it regularly.

Anyhoo, this was a weird book. It is a hero tale of an IT manager, who suddenly gets promoted to a VP of IT operations and is suddenly responsible for saving a multi-billion company from serious trouble and his entire IT team from being outsourced. And naturally, he accomplishes this with the help of a mysterious stranger who brings in his sensei-like wisdom about DevOps, and a few people who are eager to grasp onto these pearls of wisdom escaping his lips.

As a book, it's shit. Characters are uninteresting, plot is thinner than the paper the book was printed on, and I could not help but facepalm occasionally. There are three kinds of people in this book: Smart and Wrong, Stupid and Wrong, and Smart and Right. Of course the people who are Smart and Wrong become people who are Smart and Right, because of DevOps wisdom sprinkled by the protagonist and his sensei. And people who are Stupid and Wrong are the main antagonists here, and they of course lose. Because the hero story, right?

But as an illustrated case study for DevOps principles, it is brilliant. Basically this is a list of all different issues your company might be having, ranging from too much work-in-progress to managing unplanned work to managing conflicting business priorities and whatnot. It's easy to put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist, and just execute smart plans using solid principles to solve each problem as they come along. In that sense, it's not that different from a lot of hero epics, such as The Martian by Andy Weir (which, unlike this, is actually a good book that I recommend).

This book is an interesting approach. It has certain, well, aynrandistic preachiness in it, but still a free-flowing fiction might be in some cases a good way to make your reader to think about the ideas you have. So if you read it as a marketing text on DevOps, it's pretty good. It's easy and fast to read, doesn't really slow down anywhere, and comes with a useful appendix of an excerpt of the business book they really want you to buy after this one.

Just don't expect a great narrative, well-rounded characters, or actually, well, caring about any of them.




Comments

Hej, jeg √łnskede at kende din pris.

--DavidHak, 18-May-2024


I've been a big fan of "The Theory of Constraints" and this book was sort of pitched as a "IT version". My library (yay libraries) didn't have it, so I bought a used $1.99 version with $1.99 shipping.

I agree on the lame factor. While there was a smattering of The Theory of Constraints, it was very painful to get there. And I've never been a fan of "Dev Ops" other than sticking Developers in Operations to show what happens when the developer puts poorly tested code into prod. Coming from a financial background, "Go fast and break things" doesn't work with people's money.

BTW, nice to see you posting again, I followed you in the early JSP Wiki days.

--Foster, 19-May-2024


Awesome to hear from you again Foster, glad you still read this!

--JanneJalkanen, 21-May-2024


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