DevOps: Just get it started!

DevOps. Just do it!

I hear this quite often:

Yeah, we want to do DevOps. We understand this is a critical thing, it is important for succeeding in our Dev- and Ops-projects. We can’t do without.

But…

…we need to get the whole picture first. We need to have a fully featured DevOps-concept. We need some infrastructure. We need top clarify with our Stakeholders.

You know what?

These are only excuses for not doing DevOps.

The best approach to DevOps is by simply starting it. Forget about that fully featured DevOps-concept to be discussed throughout all hierarchy levels of your organization. Forget about providing the perfect infrastructure. Forget about everything – just start it!

DevOps is a process and a mindset. It is an approach to collaboration, to transparency and to knowledge sharing. Yes, it always can be done better, more aligned, deeper integrated, etc.

But nonetheless: The best way to start doing DevOps is to simply start doing it.

Today.

DevOps: I will never ever set up and maintain my environment by hand again!

Repeat after me:

I will never ever set up and maintain my environment by hand again!

I will never ever set up and maintain my environment by hand again!

I will never ever set up and maintain my environment by hand again!

If you ignore this advice, you might be ending like a lot of projects I’ve seen in the last years: Unmanageable, unstable, unpredictable and basically unreliable.

Use a tool

Ansible_logo.svgIf you ever happen to set up a something in your environment, learn about tools like Ansible and perhaps Terraform first. Provision your machines and VMs with these tools, roll out your environment using these tools and version the scripts in a repository.

Do not, ever, later on, do changes or install updates on your environment by hand! Again, use Ansible or a similar tool, to roll out and install updates and components.

Version things

220px-Git-logo.svgThe key to automatization is using tools like GIT extensively. Every single configuration file, every single automatization script needs to be put under version control. Every iteration, every change, needs to be versioned as well. Get rid of your local script repositories, keep things in a central, safe place. Share the scripts and configurations, and don’t only document them in your ticketing tool!

Do not use SSH

Of course, SSH is used when working with Ansible or other automatization tools. But you, or any of your team members, should not use it. Using SSH to do tasks on a machine is by definition a manual process, something which has to be avoided! So, forget about SSH as a tool for manually managing infrastructures, configurations, and machines. Script your changes, test your changes, roll out your changes or roll them back – all using Ansible (or other similar tools) and version those scripts as well.

Automatization is key, the tool is not

Don’t feel comfortable with Ansible? Not an issue, use Chef or Puppet or any other automatization framework instead! Don’t want to learn about Terraform? Then go the native route using AWS-CLI or Azure-CLI instead. GIT sucks? Use SVN or CVS or Mercurial!

Regardless of the tool: You need to get the right mindset, and you need to get it, before starting any work! It never worked (and never will work) bringing in automatization and tools later on. You simply won’t be able to consolidate all different configurations without any bigger effort. It’s not gonna work!

Be a developer

Yeah, I know. You are not a developer. You are an administrator. You don’t program things. You don’t write nasty code. You are the specialist, the surgeon.

Well, no. You are a fool if you happen to think so.

You need to think like a developer thinks: Laziness over repetition, scripts over manual approaches, versioning over file-share-based storage. A developer – and believe me, I am one these guys – has a very simple approach: Every repetition of any kind of functionality to be implemented, is basically a wast of time.

A developer tries to write specific code only once, he organizes code in libraries for reusability. He refuses to do things a second time if he could reuse existing code or a library.

Adopt this kind of thinking! Express everything in scripts. Version these scripts. Create your own library of scripts and share it with your fellow colleagues!

Stay in control

I get often asked: What and when do I need to automatize? The answer is simple: Everything, anytime. The moment you SSH into a machine and do any kind of change there, you have lost control. Even if you are unsure about a configurational change being the proper solution to an issue, use a script.

Did I say „Even“? Especially then!

Using an automatization framework, you can roll back the change or set up an environment into a well-known state, allowing you to safely perform changes, test the outcomes and understand the consequences. Since you have versioned everything, you can always revert back to the last known version. Since you have everything in a shared, safe place, you can even lose your computer and your notes – and still remain operational.

And, in case it was not clear enough: This holds true for any kind of environment – Bare-Metal, virtualized, cloud, everything in between.

To stay in control, automatize and version. Everything!

And now repeat the headline. Until you live it.

Life at Cloudibility (IX): I will never ever hire that person!

logo_cloudibility_rgb_transparent_square_smallI said this quite often during several projects over the last years – and often directed to persons being „difficult“ with regards to discussing hard, having different opinions, contradicting a Product Owner or an Architect with thoughtful arguments. This is something you will have to accept, even if it is hard to do so. And it is exhausting, it is stressful working with such people on a day-by-day basis.

But, I changed my mind.

Or, to put it differently, I am now in a position where I want to have such characters around me. Here at Cloudibility, we want persons having their own ideas and their own minds, we want them to contradict us and to proove us to be wrong.

We want to have such minds around us. Of course, they will have to stick to our rules of respect and culture, they will need to be compatible with customers and the team. But besides this: Have your own mind, contradict, improve, overtake us!

So, we are looking for the Crazy Ones:

Are you one of them?

Welcome!

Life at Cloudibility (VIII): Hello, India!

logo_cloudibility_rgb_transparent_square_smallCloudibility is a company focused around knowledge and heads. We are not limited to a specific location – our German employees are located in Berlin, Magdeburg, Brunswick, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, etc.

Today, we expand that a little bit and welcome our first Indian team members. They are located in Faridabad, next to Delhi, in the offices of our long-lasting partner AppFlow Solutions Pvt

640px-Flag_of_India.svg
Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23473510

Different to other approaches, we don’t treat them as a remote team working for us, but as our team-members working a little bit down the road. They will be participating in our processes, meetings, etc. and will be a core part of our team.

Our Indian team members are „hand-selected“ the very same way as our German stuff – they have to have the same culture, the same approach to cloud-native infrastructure and processes and the same greed for excellence.

Within the next four weeks, our Indian team will be extended to at least three employees, but we are actively looking for even more of them.

So, if you want to be a part of our journey, contact me or Pradeep, the head of our Indian partner!

Welcome on board!

Life at Cloudibility (VII): Can’t we negotiate a special price?

I do often get this question when providing our specialist’s profiles to possible customers.

Well. No. We can’t. And we won’t.

Let me explain that bold statement a little bit. There are plenty of reasons for saying so. The most important one: We have some of the best specialists here at Cloudibility.

We love our experts.

We provide our bright minds with an environment which allows them to shine – a good work-life-balance, paid educational hours, etc. We do this, since we would have liked such an environment ourselves when being employed. But it was not possible due to calculation issues. Which forced us to quit our jobs.

Therefore, we want to pay our experts reasonable salaries and want them to gain even more knowledge. We want them to stay motivated and hunt for solutions instead of billed hours. We are investing a lot into our experts, and we are very happy and proud to do so. We know, that you deserve the best expert and the best approach for your project.

But it’s still expensive, though.

Do you know how much it costs, to do without good experts? Or to simply opt for the cheaper alternative since it is … cheaper? Can you really afford the second best or a somehow okayish solution? Just for the sake of saving some bucks forehand?

Our experts are worth their money.

They are experts and bright minds, they are able to solve problems, they are able to think outside the box. They save you time and money and nerves, they bring knowledge and experience into your projects.

So, no. We won’t do special prices.

We already have the best prices in the market since we have the best experts and the brightest minds here at Cloudibility.

Period.

What is… DevOps?

Devops-toolchain

By Kharnagy – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51215412

Ok, I get it. You do DevOps.

  • Because you shut down your VMs at night. Automatically.
  • Because you have a Jenkins-installation.
  • Because you are moving to a cloud environment.
  • Because you have set up a „DevOps“-team.
  • Because you have a lot of meetings with stakeholders.
  • Because you want a Development team to run a software since the approach is often described as „You build it, you run it“.
  • Because you know about this nifty image on top.

Turns out: No.

You don’t do DevOps.

You just shut down your VMs at night, you just happen to have a Jenkins-installation, you’re just moving to a cloud environment, etc.

But this is not DevOps. At least not in the sense we at Cloudibility understand it and explain it to our customers and set it up with them. To us, DevOps is not about any specific technology or setting up a team.

DevOps is a mindset.

It is an approach to thinking about, developing and running software collaboratively. It is about the way you interact from the start to the end of a project with each other. It involves getting rid of this „throwing over the fence“ mentality. It involves a process for collecting and maintaining knowledge in an ever-changing team and agile approaches to development and operations. It is about the way a team is set up and how it evolves, it is about the way we set up and execute operational processes. DevOps even is a way to organize collaboration in a whole company.

And, DevOps is a culture.

business-team-meeting-boardroom_4460x4460

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

So, DevOps is way more than putting Dev and Ops on the same table. Or than moving into cloud environments. Or than being agile. Way more.

In the following months and weeks, I will give you insights into our approach to DevOps. I will give you some tips and hints. I will help you to see the whole picture. I will do this on a per-issue and per-aspect base, and it will be a loose series of articles.

Stay tuned!

Ninety Minutes to #Berlin

lrm_export_20180706_2024397848493981448649671.jpg

250km/h. Don’t try this at home.

While heading back home from Frankfurt to Berlin, I had to change trains in Hannover. From there to Berlin the distance is quite exactly 300km. Have you ever tried doing this on the infamous A2 Autobahn? It will usually take around three to four hours, often even more.

In comparison, the ICE train I’m currently in will do the same distance in less than ninety minutes.

Ninety. Minutes. From Hannover. To Berlin.

And yes: Spandau is not Berlin. But from Hannover to Spandau, it will only take around 75 minutes.

I have an open slot at 6.30am…

This has been said just seconds ago in a meeting I am currently attending. We’re not talking about freelancers here, but a pseudo-agile project with an enterprise customer.

See the problem?

Agility is not about having meetings cluttered all over the day, but efficiency. If your calendar is blocked so extensively by meetings, then perhaps, perhaps something is wrong.

Pro-Tipp: Change it. Cancel the unnecessary or unproductive meetings. Only attend meetings making any sense. Do not attend meetings for the sake of attending them.

Pro-Tipp 2: Participating in Scrum? Only do the scrum-stuff: Daily, Retrospective, Review, Plannings and perhaps Estimation meetings. All the other meetings should be obsolete if you communicate transparently. They should be attended by some POs or Architects, but not by every other person participating in the team.

Pro-Tipp 3: Participating in Kanban? Only do the minimally required stuff: Daily, Jour-Fixes or Reviews, Plannings. Work with your kanban board. All the other meetings should be obsolete if you communicate transparently. They should be attended by some POs or Architects, but not by every other person participating in the team.

(Hmmm, that’s pretty much the same content in Tipps 2 and 3. Coincidence? I don’t think so…)

Pro-Tipp 4: Get your stuff done!

Pro-Tipp 5: Get. Your. Stuff. Done!