Accelerate

23Apr18

TL;DR

Accelerate is now my top book recommendation for people looking for practical guidance on how to do DevOps. It’s a quick read, actionable, and data driven.

Background

I’ve previously recommended the following books for DevOps:

  • The Phoenix Project – Gene Kim’s respin of The Goal is an approachable tale of how manufacturing practices can be applied to IT to get the ‘three DevOps ways’ of flow, feedback and continuous learning by experimentation. It’s very accessible, but also leaves much to the reader’s interpretation.
  • The DevOps Handbook – is a much more of a practitioner’s guide, what to do (and what not to do) with copious case studies to illustrate things that have worked well for others.
  • The SRE Book – explains how Google do DevOps, which they call Site Reliability Engineering (SRE). The SRE prescription seems to have worked in many places beyond Google (usually at the hands of Xooglers), so if you’re happy to follow a strict prescription this is a known working approach[1].

I’ve also been a big fan of the annual State of DevOps Reports emerging from DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) that have been sponsored by Puppet Labs, as they took a very data rich approach to the impact and potential of DevOps practices.

Bringing it all together

Accelerate is another practitioner’s guide like The DevOps Handbook, but it’s much shorter, and replaces case studies with analysis of the data that fueled the State of DevOps Reports. It’s more suitable as a senior leader’s guide – explaining the why and what, whilst the DevOps Handbook is better fitted to mid level managers who want to know how.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to hear Nicole, Jez and Gene speak at conferences over the past few years you won’t find anything groundbreaking in Accelerate – it’s very much the almanac of what they’ve been saying for some time; but it spares you having to synthesise the guidance for yourself as it’s all clear, concise and consistent in one place.

Roughly half of the book is spend explaining their homework on the data that drove the process. Showing their working I think is necessary to the credibility of what’s being presented, but it need not be read and understood in detail if you just want to get on with it.

Conclusion

If you’re going to read one book about DevOps this is the one.

Update

Jez and Nicole were interviewed on the a16z Podcast: Feedback Loops — Company Culture, Change, and DevOps, which provides a great overview of the Accelerate material.

Note

[1] It’s also worth noting that Google have worked with some of their cloud customers to create Customer Reliability Engineering (CRE), which breaks through the normal shared responsibility line for a cloud service provider.



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