Last week I had the opportunity to attend the ChefConf 2015 conference in Santa Clara, CA. For once it was nice to not have to travel to go to a conference. Chef has been on the bleeding edge of configuration management in the Windows space lately. With Microsoft having support for Chef and Desired State Configuration (DSC), it only made since for me to become more familiar with the technology. So I am making an effort to become a better Chef. When I told my wife this good news she thought it meant that she would have to cook less. Eventually I informed her that wasn’t the case.
The event organizers for ChefConf had somewhat of a different approach than other events that I have attended. They chose to have keynotes for the first half of each day and then hold breakout sessions in the afternoon. The opening video for the Conference was Eggs 365 featuring Nathen Harvey, Adam Jacob, and Jez Humble. This was the best opening video I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen it, you can find it on YouTube here. It’s all about Continuous Delivery and Lean Configuration, and it’s hilarious. Think unicorns and zebra striped robes.
Barry Crist, CHEF CEO, kicked off the opening Keynote where he had several guests come out and talk about how Chef helped them improve productivity and grow their business. One common principle that seemed to be consistent with all the guest speakers was DevOps. Not coming from a developer’s background, I probably would have been a little lost if it weren’t for the book, ‘The Phoenix Project’ by Gene Kim, Kevin, Behr, and George Spaffor, that I recently had the pleasure of reading. This book is about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win. If you have not read this book, I would highly recommend it. Put it on your todo list as it will change your way of thinking. This was probably one of the best books that I have read.
So what is this DevOps thing you keep mentioning? There are a few definitions floating around out there and you will probably get a different interpretation of the same fundamental principles, depending on who you talk to. Wikipedia defines it as “a software development method that stresses communication, collaboration, integration, automation and measurement of cooperation between software developers and other information-technology professionals. That is a mouth full. But one thing is for sure, DevOps is here to stay and if you aren’t familiar with it, you should be. To use a comment from one of the slides at ChefConf, “DevOps is Reinventing How We Run Our Businesses”. Simply put, DevOps is about replacing the traditional dev and IT Ops silos with teams of people from both groups working together in a collaborative manner.
Ok, so now that I understand what DevOps means, why should we embrace it? If I told you that you could accelerate the flow of work through Dev, Test, and IT Operations in a way that would increase productivity and customer satisfaction, what would you say? You would probably say, “Great, sign me up”. This is where I would tell you that it’s possible if you start embracing the DevOps culture. The competitive advantage gained by this type of culture is enormous and proven by some well-known companies who have been able to increase their code deployment times from months/weeks to hours/minutes. Those companies who choose not to adopt this culture will only fall behind and give way to those who do.
I have only touched the surface of DevOps here and there are many more principles of this culture that warrant additional reading. Do yourself a favor and see how DevOps can help you and your business succeed.
All in all I enjoyed my time at ChefCon learning how to embrace the DevOps movement and becoming a better cook.