5 best practices for getting started with DevOps

(as originally shared at

Are you ready to implement DevOps, but don’t know where to begin? Try these five best practices.

DevOps often stymies early adopters with its ambiguity, not to mention its depth and breadth. By the time someone buys into the idea of DevOps, their first questions usually are: “How do I get started?” and “How do I measure success?” These five best practices are a great road map to starting your DevOps journey. (more…)


Service Oriented Architecture vs. Dunbar’s Number

I’ve got a bit of a problem in that I spend most of my career working in engineering space, but most of my thought capital is spent on larger problems of organizational design, technical strategy, laying down foundations today for problems we’re going to need to solve in a year or more. This frustrates my bosses to no end, who just want me to build a server or swap a bad hard drive out or any other of a number of mundane day to day sysadmin tasks. I’m left without much of an outlet for this stuff besides meetup groups and, when I find the time, blogging. Thanks for humoring me.

One of my frequent frustrations is we tend to carry too much legacy around in how we work, in how we organize. We do things all wrong because, well, that’s how we’ve always done it. But I’m thinking farther out, and I see many operations teams on a collision course with the hard limits of the human brain. To wit: the hierarchical limitations of Dunbar’s number and the human neocortex.


Reading List

I’m not dead. 🙂 Though I have been blogging a little for Bronto Engineering Blog.

I’ve been working on compiling a reading list page here. This will be a curated list of books that I’ve read and find to be foundational to running a good business of any kind, especially a software company or any other kind of technology-heavy venture.

Also, I’ll be speaking at Triangle DevOps again on September 17th. The talk will be aimed at line managers and executives who’ve bought into the idea of DevOps but don’t know where to start or how to measure success.

Temporarily Unemployed

Yesterday was my last day at Red Hat. I wasn’t there for long. It was really very bittersweet to leave. I loved the company, I loved the corporate culture. But I felt the greatest constraint on my success there (and the success of the mission for which I was hired) was coming from above, and it was increasingly clear that this wasn’t going to improve. That’s all I really want to say about that. I don’t want to look in the rear view mirror, but rather ahead to better days.

So at least for the weekend, anyway, I’m a free agent. I’m just going to spend it with friends and family like any other weekend, really, but we’re all having great fun pointing out that technically I’m unemployed right now.

Monday is a new day. I’m starting at Bronto Software as Principal Engineer in the Systems Engineering group. After I’m settled in and have a better idea of what my day-to-day work is going to be like, I’ll talk about it some more.

My job search was conducted fairly quietly, and with a good bit of discrimination. Any shops that were too big were not seriously considered (I was looking for a high water mark of no more than 300 employees, ideally). Any shops that were based in out of town locations, with Raleigh as a remote location, had a lot of selling to do. Any shops that required relocation were not considered at all.

If I was told the title was “DevOps Engineer” or that I would be part of a “DevOps Team”, my enthusiasm for the position waned to near terminal levels. This was a sign to me that the shop in question wanted the DevOps buzzword without understanding what it means.

Early in the process, I had reached out to Bronto directly. There are myriad reasons for this. Bronto is extremely engaged in the local community, not only hosting many professional networking events month after month, but also sending small armies of associates out to perform community service acts in the surrounding area. The people who end up working there by and large end up staying there. And they all seem so darned happy to be there. They have been sharing of themselves to the local technical community, enough so that I’ve been known to mention them as “the Etsy of the Triangle”. 

The welcoming committee has been nothing short of mind blowing. Everything from emails to tweets to private messages on LinkedIn, from all corners of the business, all welcoming me to Bronto and anticipating my arrival. I’ve been in the business for 20 years now, and I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. It’s fair to say that I’m hoping my weekend of unemployment passes quickly, and that I’m really anticipating a wonderful start to my next chapter on Monday.

Corporate Politics and DevOps

So you might think that evoking the word “politics” might mean there’s going to be a rant coming. There will be nothing of the sort. Politics is not necessarily a belligerent act in the corporate world, though it’s often perceived that way. And while sometimes there are people who engage in a bit of belligerent politics to improve their own situation instead of the organization that they serve, those guys are pretty easy to spot and are usually well known as assholes anyway.

We’re not here to talk about the assholes today. We’re here to talk about good, competent people who struggle with consensus sometimes for very understandable reasons. (more…)