Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Simon Hill, Madhavan Krishnan, VP, Cloud Solutions, Virtusa, John Rauser

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Post

The DevOps Equation: Agility + Empathy = Quality | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

Derek Weeks interviews Jeff Sussna on the importance of designing for service and responding to the unexpected

I had the chance to catch up with Jeff Sussna ahead of his keynote address on continuous design, scheduled for DevOpsDays Atlanta, April 26-27. Jeff discussed the importance of designing for service, responding to the unexpected, and the importance of building empathy across teams.

Derek Weeks: Today, I'm really happy that we have Jeff Sussna joining us for the latest in this series. Jeff, why don't you introduce yourself?

Jeff Sussna: Sure. Thanks for having me. I'm an independent consultant. I've been around since rocks were young or the 80s, whichever is older. My particular background is that I have built systems and led organizations across the entire development, QA and operations spectrum. So, I'm a little unique in that respect.

My current focus is on helping IT organizations and digital businesses really bring together their ops and design thinking so they can not only go faster and not only be more resilient, but also provide more customer value at the same time.

DW: Let's talk about that a little. How is continuous design - a subject you have written a lot about - coming into play? How can it help us be more resilient?

JS: Just to explain a little about what we mean by continuous design. It's basically bringing together the entire organization and a unifying design in operations. It's taking what we are doing in DevOps and expanding it to include product, design and support. It lets the whole organization really have an agile conversation with a market and with its customers.

The issue that we face is that we live in a service world now. The point is no longer delivering products like cars coming off an assembly line. It's much more about responding to our customers and having relationships with them. This is happening in a world that is more and more complex, while less and less is in your control. We can't figure everything out in advance. We have to have the ability to respond to the unexpected. We have to be able to do that at every level.

____

"This is happening in a world that is more and more complex, while less and less is in your control."

____

I will give you a couple examples of things that are perfect illustrations of this:

I recently wished a friend of mine happy birthday. The reason I did that was because there was a notice on my calendar that said it was her birthday. It was wrong. It wasn't her birthday. I had no idea where that notice came from. Did it come from Skype? Did it come from LinkedIn? Did it come from email? I had no idea.

We face that in IT too. Systems are becoming more complex. We develop microservices. We use public and private clouds at multiple levels. We're no longer in a situation where we can control things. We have to be able to respond and respond at all levels.

____

When we make design and operations unified and continuous, we are able to say, "Where did we think we were going? Where would we need to go? And, what do we do next?"

____

What I talk about in my book, in my workshops and in all my work is that this needs to happen at every level. It's not just a matter of designing for failure inside the data center or inside the infrastructure. We also have to do it at other levels.

Here is another example:

I was trying to get paid recently by a large enterprise client in Europe. They were trying to wire money internationally; my bank wasn't really set up for it, and they were having problems. They just kind of gave up. I kept getting these messages saying, "Sorry, we tried paying you and it didn't work." That was the end of it.

I started to get frustrated, and my client within the enterprise started to get frustrated to the point where they sent a scathing email to our AP department (which they cc'd me on) saying, "Why can't we take the lead to get this guy paid?"

That's an approach that is based on resilience in the sense of assuming that something can go wrong and figuring out what he can do to fix it when it can go wrong. As opposed to the traditional approach where we've been trained to push certain buttons and take certain actions. If those actions don't work the way they are supposed to, well, I guess that is someone else's problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISSMHmwIMtA

DW: This brings to light some recent conversations I had with Paula Thrasher at CSRA. She was talking about developing systems and how to make them more resilient. She is using pictures as part of her conversations with people to help visualize their work. What work steps are there? What work is flowing? What is communicating with what?

Are you taking similar approaches with continuous design in how you work with clients to pursue it?

JS: Well, I try to introduce them to the principles, and I also try to introduce them to a set of practices which actually comes out of Mark Burgess' work on promise theory. It is really a conceptual model for how we think about success and failure and how we think about service. For example, Amazon helps you get everything you need in your life from shaving cream to batteries to snow tires to books as quickly and easily as possible. In order to keep that promise, they make a whole variety of other promises. Some of which filter all the way down to a promise to be able to go over change to production as quickly as possible.

Once you take that mindset, the interesting thing about a promise and the reason we use that word is because it is very intuitive. We all know what a promise is. We all make promises to each other every day. On the other hand, when we think about it in terms of service, IT or whatever, it may seem a little odd. The thing about promises is that, on the one hand, we are making commitments to do things, and on the other hand, promises sometimes get broken. That is actually good because it forces us to think. If I promised to pay my vendor, what do I do if I'm not succeeding in paying my vendor?

____

"The thing about promises is that, on the one hand, we are making commitments to do things, and on the other hand, promises sometimes get broken. That is actually good because it forces us to think."

____

It's sort of flipping our mind. Again, we are doing this in the DevOps world where you start thinking about things like mean time to repair (MTTR) instead of mean time between failure (MTBF). We shift from how do we create a situation to how do we create a situation in which nothing will ever break - which becomes less and less possible. We then need to shift to a situation where we can respond more and more quickly.

We go to executives and say we don't want to worry about how often stuff breaks anymore, and they freak out. We have to teach them and we have to teach ourselves that we can't prevent things from breaking. Instead, let's be able to fix them so quickly that maybe no one notices. My focus is on really helping people shift their mindset from thinking about ourselves to thinking about who we are helping. And from thinking about what we are doing to thinking about how well it succeeds and how well it overcomes problems.

____

"We have to teach them and we have to teach ourselves that we can't prevent things from breaking. Instead, let's be able to fix them so quickly that maybe no one notices."

____

DW: You talked about delivering on promises as quickly as possible. How does continuous design account for doing things as quickly as possible but making sure the quality is there at the same time?

JS: In two ways: One way is that when you do things in small increments, you are able to find problems more quickly. This is classic; it comes out of Lean. It comes out of integration. It's pretty basic stuff for our community now that it's much easier to find and fix a bug five minutes after you change a code than five weeks after you change the code.

When you put things like Linux, Agile, DevOps and design all together, they all focus on incremental feedback loops where you very quickly discover the gap between what you think you're accomplishing and what you're actually accomplishing. Secondly, when you take this all to the way to the marketplace and you make it part of the relationship with your customer, you can reduce a tremendous amount of waste.

The way to think about continuous design is: It's all about steering. Think about a boat that you're trying to sail across a bay. You can't just point the boat at the other side and say go because the winds are changing, and you're going to have to respond to things that you can't predict. If you sail for 20 minutes then discover you had pointed in the wrong direction, you're going to be way off course. You're then going to generate a tremendous amount of energy getting back on course.

What continuous design says is just an extension of continuous integration and continuous delivery taken all the way though the business. When we steer continuously, we steer efficiently.

____

"What continuous design says is just an extension of continuous integration and continuous delivery taken all the way though the business. When we steer continuously, we steer efficiently."

____

DW: I know you're going to be keynoting DevOpsDays Atlanta coming up in April. Chris Corriere, one of the guys on the organizing committee, tells me that you're leading a full-day workshop on continuous design before that. Maybe you could tell some of the people that are attending DevOpsDays Atlanta why they should be there a day earlier for your workshop and what things you're going to address during that time.

JS: To some degree, what I am going to address is everything we have been talking about for the last ten minutes or so - relative to DevOps. I think the key thing is - and we need to think about it - we need to think about more than just going fast. One of the big misunderstandings that I see with DevOps is this notion that it is primarily about delivering application changes to production faster. That's only half of it. We really need to think about it from the perspective of providing service.

____

"One of the big misunderstandings that I see with DevOps is this notion that it is primarily about delivering application changes to production faster. That's only half of it. We really need to think about it from the perspective of providing service."

____

You know what we are talking about is essentially developers and operations people providing better service to each other. As a result, they can deliver better service to the business.

Where we talk about microservices, you know that word service is in there for a reason. If all you do is you kind of shatter your organization and shatter your architecture into a bunch of little pieces, you still have to figure out how those pieces come back together into something coherent. The answer to that is taking a really deep service-oriented approach. That is very much what my workshop is about. What does that word even mean, and how do we do it?

DW: You mentioned thinking about interactions as delivering better service to one another within the organization. How does empathy come into your thinking around DevOps and continuous design?

JS: I'd like to say agility plus empathy equals quality. What I mean by that, in particularly empathy, I think it's important to take a minute and clarify. When we talk about empathy, we are not talking about wallowing in someone else's pain. We're not even necessarily talking about things on an emotion or feeling level. It's very simply the ability to see things as if from another's perspective. I will give you a prime example of where that comes into play and how it's important and how it helps.

____

Agility + Empathy = Quality

____

When I work with clients, I tend to look at their process using their organization from the product beginning to the support end. Oftentimes, I see support getting the short end of the stick. I see places where they get phone calls from customers with features that they don't even know exist yet. They sometimes get talked down to by development or product or even operations. They say things like, "Well, you're just supposed to support the stuff. You're the young people. You're the less experienced people."

When we have the ability to see things from their perspective, we can think about how support is actually experiencing our delivery process. If we don't think about them when we go through the process of delivering new features, they will be lost. Them being lost will show when customers call for help. That will significantly affect customer satisfaction and then even beyond.

The reason we need to empathize with support is so we can empathize with the customer. Oftentimes, when we build something, we don't think about the notion that our customers might have trouble with it. On the one hand, we have the illusion that if we design it and we build it really well, they won't have trouble. We can't perfectly predict who they are, what they need or what they will encounter. There's an inevitability to the idea that they are going to need some amount of help.

DW: I think that is probably the best description of empathy within a DevOps environment that I have heard anyone talk about. Jeff, it has been a great conversation. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it, and we look forward to seeing you at DevOpsDays Atlanta coming up.

JS: Thanks. It has been great talking to you, and I am really looking forward to the conference. It will be fun.

If you want to learn more about continuous design from Jeff, be sure to join us at DevOpsDays Atlanta. I will also be at the event giving an Ignite Talk entitled "Real Heroes Draw Pictures" focusing on lessons learned from the 31 DevOps and Continuous Delivery Reference Architectures assembled.

More Stories By Derek Weeks

In 2015, Derek Weeks led the largest and most comprehensive analysis of software supply chain practices to date across 160,000 development organizations. He is a huge advocate of applying proven supply chain management principles into DevOps practices to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and sustain long-lasting competitive advantages.

As a 20+ year veteran of the software industry, he has advised leading businesses on IT performance improvement practices covering continuous delivery, business process management, systems and network operations, service management, capacity planning and storage management. As the VP and DevOps Advocate for Sonatype, he is passionate about changing the way people think about software supply chains and improving public safety through improved software integrity. Follow him here @weekstweets, find me here www.linkedin.com/in/derekeweeks, and read me here http://blog.sonatype.com/author/weeks/.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
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...
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, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
Cavirin Systems has just announced C2, a SaaS offering designed to bring continuous security assessment and remediation to hybrid environments, containers, and data centers. Cavirin C2 is deployed within Amazon Web Services (AWS) and features a flexible licensing model for easy scalability and clear pay-as-you-go pricing. Although native to AWS, it also supports assessment and remediation of virtual or container instances within Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or on-premise. By dr...
The cloud revolution in enterprises has very clearly crossed the phase of proof-of-concepts into a truly mainstream adoption. One of most popular enterprise-wide initiatives currently going on are “cloud migration” programs of some kind or another. Finding business value for these programs is not hard to fathom – they include hyperelasticity in infrastructure consumption, subscription based models, and agility derived from rapid speed of deployment of applications. These factors will continue to...
While we understand Agile as a means to accelerate innovation, manage uncertainty and cope with ambiguity, many are inclined to think that it conflicts with the objectives of traditional engineering projects, such as building a highway, skyscraper or power plant. These are plan-driven and predictive projects that seek to avoid any uncertainty. This type of thinking, however, is short-sighted. Agile approaches are valuable in controlling uncertainty because they constrain the complexity that ste...
identify the sources of event storms and performance anomalies will require automated, real-time root-cause analysis. I think Enterprise Management Associates said it well: “The data and metrics collected at instrumentation points across the application ecosystem are essential to performance monitoring and root cause analysis. However, analytics capable of transforming data and metrics into an application-focused report or dashboards are what separates actual application monitoring from relat...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Many enterprise and government IT organizations are realizing the benefits of cloud computing by extending IT delivery and management processes across private and public cloud services. But they are often challenged with balancing the need for centralized cloud governance without stifling user-driven innovation. This strategy requires an approach that fundamentally reshapes how IT is delivered today, shifting the focus from infrastructure to services aggregation, and mixing and matching the bes...
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of DevOps. Now we have a complete set of tool sets in order to enable customers to go all the way from planning to development to testing down to release into the operations," explained Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy at CA Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
We just came off of a review of a product that handles both containers and virtual machines in the same interface. Under the covers, implementation of containers defaults to LXC, though recently Docker support was added. When reading online, or searching for information, increasingly we see “Container Management” products listed as competitors to Docker, when in reality things like Rocket, LXC/LXD, and Virtualization are Dockers competitors. After doing some looking around, we have decided tha...
The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for t...
DevOps teams have more on their plate than ever. As infrastructure needs grow, so does the time required to ensure that everything's running smoothly. This makes automation crucial - especially in the server and network monitoring world. Server monitoring tools can save teams time by automating server management and providing real-time performance updates. As budgets reset for the New Year, there is no better time to implement a new server monitoring tool (or re-evaluate your current solution)....
The benefits of automation are well documented; it increases productivity, cuts cost and minimizes errors. It eliminates repetitive manual tasks, freeing us up to be more innovative. By that logic, surely, we should automate everything possible, right? So, is attempting to automate everything a sensible - even feasible - goal? In a word: no. Consider this your short guide as to what to automate and what not to automate.
"We are an integrator of carrier ethernet and bandwidth to get people to connect to the cloud, to the SaaS providers, and the IaaS providers all on ethernet," explained Paul Mako, CEO & CTO of Massive Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
From our perspective as consumers, perhaps the best thing about digital transformation is how consumerization is making technology so much easier to use. Sure, our television remote controls still have too many buttons, and I have yet to figure out the digital display in my Honda, but all in all, tech is getting easier for everybody. Within companies – even very large ones – the consumerization of technology is gradually taking hold as well. There are now simple mobile apps for a wide range of ...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.