LISA Keynote 2011: The DevOps Transformation

Posted on December 16, 2011

Last week I was given the incredible opportunity to not only speak at LISA but to deliver the opening keynote.  I hadn’t expected to even go, but when I learned the topic was DevOps I made a last minute plea on the eve of the submission deadline for a slot to deliver a talk I was calling “The 60 Minute MBA”, a history of Operations Management.  My hope is that I could get some obscure timeslot so a handful of people could geek out with me on Operations Management and LEAN and how it is helping to fuel and direct a lot of the DevOps thinking out there.  To my great shock I was told I was given the keynote slot… frankly, something I didn’t want for fear of the stress associated with it, but Tom felt I should step up and that I’d do great.

I haven’t blogged much in the last year and when I have its on topics you probably wouldn’t expect from a “Solaris blogger”.  I’ve held back most of what I want to talk about and only let the cream rise to the top.  My already frantic reading backlog only intensified as I was trying to pack as much into my talk as possible and ensure I was accurate.  Everything I read, watched, attended or did was reshaping my talk and I essentially spent 6 months “on stage” in my mind.   The problem I really had was that I had maybe 6 hours of content that I needed to condense into a 1 hour slot, hitting the essentials but not diluting its potency.  And, of course, I’m still learning every day.  Only 2 weeks prior to my talk did I finally hammer out a rough slide deck and I then had to keep pushing it around into something moderately cohesive.  Trying to find ways to address wisdom, systems thinking, agile, lean, TPS, OM and OR, and tie all this back to DevOps was a challenge.

To make things more challenging, Tamarah’s (my wife, seen above) due date for our 5th child is the 14th of Dec and the talk was to happen at 9:30AM Eastern time, which is 6:30AM Pacific and I’m not a morning person.  So… all things considered, I did pretty well, but you will notice in my talk that I was a little slower than I normally would be.  The upshot, however, was that I didn’t ramble much which kept me on my time marks.

What was interesting to me was what different people walked away with. Some people really keyed in on the value chain and asking “Why?”. Others wanted to rediscover ITIL because it was the first time they had heard it didn’t suck. Others got interested in operations management and LEAN, something they’d heard of but didn’t know where to start learning more. Others keyed on the collaboration of devops and bringing teams together. There was, I think, something for everyone and I didn’t hear any negative feedback on that talk beyond some people liking some parts and not caring about others… and it was designed that way.

Two things I want to note for viewers. First, when I said “by men I mean the human race”, I should have better explained that I think of “men” in a JRR Tolkien sense, the “race of man”. Secondly, at the very end I bagged on Sun TechPubs… I didn’t really explain myself and someone took offense to it. The fault was not on Sun’s writers, but rather on the engineering managers who wouldn’t permit writers the access to engineering they needed, so TechPubs was left to figure it out themselves. The fault was squarely on the engineering managers, NOT on the writers. Given the circumstances they have always turned out amazing documentation and I have nothing negative to say about the writers (as I noted in my answer, I wanted to be one at one time).

Anyway.  The following is the keynote, the slides can be found here.


I referenced a lot of books, and may have asked for the list of books, so here it is.

Please note! I do not profit from any of this in any way, I’m not getting a book kick back or whatever.  My only source of income is my Joyent salary.

The Essential Books you should read to put DevOps, ITIL/ITSM, LEAN and Operations Management into perspective and educate yourself for the future:

  1. The Visible Ops Handbook: Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditable Steps
  2. Any Operations Management textbook
  3. Web Operations: Keeping the Data On Time
  4. Lean IT: Enabling and Sustaining Your Lean Transformation

The Advanced Books you can read to dig behind the ideas, this is my “Best Of” list:

  1. My Philosophy of Industry & Moving Forward Henry Ford
  2. Today and Tomorow Henry Ford
  3. The Principles of Scientific Management Taylor
  4. The Toyota Production System Ohno
  5. Out of Crisis Deming
  6. The New Economics Deming
  7. Management Challenges for the 21st Century Drucker
  8. The Goal Goldratt
  9. Critical Chain Goldratt
  10. Creating the Corporate Future Ackoff
  11. Future Shock Toffler

One book mentioned in my talk that I do not own, nor have I read, is Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which is based largely on The Four Steps to the Epiphany a book I did buy at the MIT Press bookstore after my keynote. “Lean Startup” is popular, but all he’s really doing is applying LEAN concepts and Agile methodologies to the startup. There are hundreds of “Lean XYZ” books. I am personally interested in the real deal, not books about other books. “LEAN IT” is my one exception because it can be a big time saver and I feel it gives proper credit to the history and sources of the ideas it espouses.

Finally, rather than give you a “fire hose” list of everything, I’ll simply include a picture of what I feel is a very complete libary on these various topics.  The handful of books missing from these shelves are PDFs on my iPad such as the official  “ITILv3 2011 Update”, several books on Engineering Systems, etc.  Click the image to see it high-res.