January 20, 2013

The Phoenix Project – Review

I have been waiting in anticipation to buy a copy of Gene Kim’s “The Phoenix Project”, and when it was released last week, I wasted no time snapping up a copy.

By no means am I a big reader, or a fast reader, I do have a high comprehension rate, and I generally stick to reading white papers, blog posts, Etc., as opposed to technical books, I have a few on my virtual shelf, and I have read them in one form or another (e.g. cover to cover, or as a reference).

Having read the early release of one chapter, and left hanging with Bill, I couldn’t wait to find out how our hero was going to go. I started reading, and couldn’t put the book down. It was an awesome read. There were so many similarities to places I have worked before I found myself wondering why we never asked these same questions, if only we had Erik to guide us.

This book is an excellent introduction and definition as to what I believe DevOps is. A culture, a way of thinking, not an engineer, not a developer, but the culmination of all facets of IT and the business. IT realising that they are not there to build single awesome things, but to assist the business to make more money, and sometimes good enough, is exactly that, good enough. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but consistent and repeatable.

We saw how to relate operational functions to more traditional plant work that we hear so much about in the press, but this does it in such a way that it can make sense to everybody. It was excellent to see that Gene didn’t just focus on the development and operations integration, and in fact, that came quite late in the piece.

Including John, the CISO, was also a very smart idea. All too often I hear (and am guilty of it myself in the past) people using regulatory requirements as excuses to not embrace certain aspects of the culture, yet we saw how John integrated his security checks with the automated tests, and was also able to jump on to the fast release cycle to get security fixes released. There was even a special mention of developers having read access to production. While this is a good thing, remember a single large query can bring the I/O on your database to it’s knees, so be careful, but please do give it a go.

All in all, an excellent read, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and reckon I learnt a number of things, and will definitely be referring to it again in the future.

The small issues I had with it are all cosmetic, and in one case, might be the result of the kindle reader on Android. Emphasised items were very small e.g. “IT” was always tiny. There was at least one case where a whole paragraph was repeated, and there were quite a few spelling and grammatical errors.

I am no English major, and for the most part none of this took anything away from this excellent book.

My rating? 5/5, 10/10. Give it a read!

© Greg Cockburn

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