Growing DevOps Inside Out
This November, Comcast invited Electric Cloud to sponsor and speak at the 5th Annual Philadelphia #comcastdevops Day held at the Comcast Center in downtown Philly. The Comcast DevOpsDay is an internal event put on by Michael Winslow (@michaelswinslow) and Chuck Mountz (@mountzcjr) for promoting DevOps practices within Comcast – and it’s a great example of how organizations can promote DevOps internally.
As a full on DevOps enthusiast, it’s always great to see large organizations fostering DevOps from the ground up. This year’s Comcast DevOpsDay was no exception – it’s an awesome event, and very inspiring to see so many Comcast employees show up. The room was packed with 90+ folks with various degrees of experience with DevOps – from those just wanting to learn more to leaders who are actively putting in place DevOps practices on their teams. The day was filled with talks from mainly internal employees, a few outsiders (like myself) sprinkled in, along with some collaborative group discussions. It was refreshing to see the range of content covered – from DevOps basics, to inspiring DevOps stories, from technical deep dives, to discussions around work culture.
Women in DevOps and Other Great Talks
One of my favorite presentations from the day included a panel discussion with women leaders in Comcast who are practicing DevOps. This presentation consisted of a panel of diverse female technologists who are pioneering DevOps practices on their teams and in their organizations. From cloud architecture to software engineering – it was super refreshing to hear the female voice in a traditionally male dominant environment. The level of engagement was encouraging and inspiring.
Another presentation provided a great deep dive on #devsecops from the esteemed Larry Maccherone (@LMaccherone). Larry talked about how to empower engineering teams to take ownership of what they build and how it performs in production environment. I’m a big DevSecOps fan – so I really loved hearing someone from inside Comcast driving home DevSecOps practices.
And another talk that I appreciated hearing was by developer advocate Jearvon Dharrie (@jearvon), who talked about building a shared tools ecosystem at Comcast. While DevOps isn’t primarily a “tools” problem, you can’t effectively move the needle on DevOps and continuous practices without automation and building a healthy ecosystem of powerful tools. Jearvon talked about infrastructure-as-code, delivery-as-code, and building a shared tools ecosystem using a “guild” based approach. He talked about all the tools and best practices the guild is promoting, and how to join the open and interactive community through GitHub.
DevOps Metrics that Matter
I spoke on “DevOps Metrics that Matter”. One of things that we can often forget about DevOps is that, at it’s core, DevOps is very scientific. Of course people, culture, and processes matter – and those things can be very “fuzzy” and irrational, but fundamentally DevOps is about continuously improving – and you can’t do that without measuring. We aim to improve our processes, become more agile and innovative – but to do that we need to understand what our current processes are, learn how to measure success, start making hypotheses, run tests, evaluate, and repeat! So I talked about some best practices for how to “measure well” and some key measurements that can help provide feedback to more effectively improving how we work. For example – don’t setup metrics that can be “gamed”. As humans – we’re built to game the system. So, for example, if I want to reduce the number of bugs in my team’s software, a bad metric would be to offer a bonus to developers for resolving the most number of bugs. As the great Dilbert cartoon points out, your developers are just gong to go “code themselves a minivan!”
All in all – it was great to support an organization like Comcast in their efforts to grow DevOps from the inside out. And being on the 54th floor in the clouds is quite an experience. Thanks Comcast – look forward to the next one!