2017 SRE & DevOps Influencers

Seems fitting to start 2018 by finally posting this list I started in May while working on my DevOpsDays “SRE vs DevOps” presentation, I pulled an SRE and DevOps reading list from some of my favorite authors.  I quickly realized that the actual influencer list needed to be expanded some – additional and suggestions welcome.  A list like this is never complete.

Offered WITHOUT ordering… I’m sorry if I missed someone!  I’ll make it up by podcasting with them!

SRE & DevOps Focused

Developer, Open Source & Social Connectors

Completely non-technical, but have to shout out to my hard working author friends Heidi Joy Treadway @heiditretheway and Jennifer Willis @jenwillis.

Deep Thinking & Tech + Great Guests – L8ist Sh9y podcast relaunched

I love great conversations about technology – especially ones where the answer is not very neatly settled into winners and losers (which is ALL of them in IT).  I’m excited that RackN has (re)launched the L8ist Sh9y (aka Latest Shiny) podcast around this exact theme.

Please check out the deep and thoughtful discussion I just had with Mark Thiele (notes) of Aperca where we covered Mark’s thought on why public cloud will be under 20% of IT and culture issues head on.

Spoiler: we have David Linthicum coming next, SO SUBSCRIBE.

I’ve been a guest on some great podcasts (Cloudcast, gcOnDemand, Datanauts, IBM Dojo, HPEFoodfight) and have deep respect for critical work they do in industry.

We feel there’s still room for deep discussions specifically around automated IT Operations in cloud, data center and edge; consequently, we’re branching out to start including deep interviews in addition to our initial stable of IT Ops deep technical topics like Terraform, Edge Computing, GartnerSYM review, Kubernetes and, of course, our own Digital Rebar.

Soundcloud Subscription Information

 

Podcast – A Nice Mix of Ansible and Digital Rebar

Rob Hirschfeld, CEO and Co-Founder, RackN talks with Stephen Spector, HPE Cloud Evangelist about the recent uptake in Ansible news as well as how Digital Rebar Provision assists Ansible users.

Listen to the 9 minute podcast here:

As this is the launch of L8ist Sh9y Podcast from RackN we encourage you to visit our site at https://soundcloud.com/user-410091210 or subscribe to the RSS Feed. We will also be publishing on iTunes as well shortly.

Let’s DevOps IRL: my SRE postings on RackN!

I’m investing in these Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) discussions because I believe operations (and by extension DevOps) is facing a significant challenge in keeping up with development tooling.   The links below have been getting a lot of interest on twitter and driving some good discussion.

datanauts_logo_300

15967

Addressing this Ops debt is our primary mission at my company, RackN: we believe that integrated system level tooling is required.  We also believe that new tools should not disrupt environments so we work very hard to adapt to requirements of individual sites.

SRE is urgent because it provides a pragmatic path and rationale for investment.

Even if you don’t agree with Google’s term or all their practices, I think fundamental concepts of system thinking, status/pay, automation investment and developer collaboration are essential.  It should come as no surprise that these are all Lean/DevOps concepts; however, SRE has the pragmatic side of being a job function.

Here are some recent relevant discussions I’ve been having about SREs with links to both the audio and my text show notes.

Of course, RackN is also doing a WEEKLY SRE update that captures general interest items.  Check that out and subscribe.

The Case for Ops Engineering Pay Equity w/ Charity Majors

TL;DR: Operators need pay/status equity to succeed.

Charity Majors is one of my DevOps and SRE heroes* so it was great fun to be able to debate SRE with her at Gluecon this spring.  Encouraged by Mike Maney to retell the story, we got to recapture our disagreement about “Is SRE is Good Term?” from the evening before.

While it’s hard to fully recapture with adult beverages, we were able to recreate the key points.

First, we both strongly agree that we need status and pay equity for operators.  That part of the SRE message is essential regardless of the name of the department.

Then it get’s more nuanced. Charity, whose more of a Silicon Valley insider, believes that SRE is tainted by the “Google for Everyone” cargo cult.  She has trouble separating the term SRE from the specific Google practices that helped define it.  

As someone who simply commutes to Silicon Valley, I do not see that bias in the discussions I’ve been having.  I do agree that companies that try to simply copy Google (or other unicorns) in every way is a failure pattern.

Charity: “I don’t want get paid to keep someone else’s shit site alive”

I think Google did a good job with the book by defining the term for a broad audience. Charity believes this signals that SRE means you are working for a big org.  Charity suggested several better alternatives, Operations Engineer.  At the end, the danger seems to be when Dev and Ops create silos instead of collaborating.

Consensus: Job Title?  Who cares.  The need to to make operations more respected and equal.

What did you think of the video?  How is your team defining Operations titles and teams?

(*) yes, I’m working on an actual list – stay tuned.

What makes ops hard? SRE/DevOps challenge & imperative [from Cloudcast 301]

TL;DR: Operators (DevOps & SREs) have a hard job, we need to make time and room for them to redefine their jobs in a much more productive way.

Cloudcast-Logo-2015-Banner-BlueThe Cloudcast.net by Brian Gracely and Aaron Delp brings deep experience and perspective into their discussions based on their impressive technology careers and understanding of the subject matter.  Their podcasts go deep quickly with substantial questions that get to the heart of the issue.  This was my third time on the show (previous notes).

In episode 301, we go deeply into the meaning and challenges for Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) functions.  We also cover some popular technologies that are of general interest.

Author’s Note; For further information about SREs, listen to my discussion about “SRE vs DevOps vs Cloud Native” on the Datanauts podcast #89.  (transcript pending)

Here are my notes from Cloudcast 301. with bold added for emphasis:

  • 2:00 Rob defines SRE (more resources on RackN.com site).
    • 2:30 Google’s SRE book gave a name, even changed the definition, to what I’ve been doing my whole career. Evolved name from being just about sites to a full system perspective.  
    • 3:30 SRE and DevOps are aligned at the core.  While DevOps is about process and culture, SRE is more about the function and “factory.”
    • 4:30 Developers don’t want to be shoving coal into the engine, but someone, SREs, have to make sure that everything keeps running
  • 5:15 Brian asks about impedance mismatch between Dev and Ops.  How do we fix that?
    • 6:30 Rob talks about the crisis brewing for operations innovation gap (link).  Digital Rebar is designed to create site-to-site automation so Operators can share repeatable best practices.
    • 7:30 OpenStack ran aground because Operators because we never created a the practices that could be repeated.  “Managed service as the required pattern is a failure of building good operational software.”
    • 8:00 RackN decomposes operations into isolated units so that individual changes don’t break the software on top

  • 9:20 Brian talks about the increasing rate of releases means that operations doesn’t have the skills to keep up with patching.
    • 10:10 That’s “underlay automation” and even scarier because software is composited with all sorts of parts that have their own release cycles that are not synchronized.
    • 11:30 We need to get system level patch/security.update hygiene to be automatic
    • 12:20 This is really hard!

  • 13:00 Brian asks what are the baby steps?
    • 13:20 We have to find baby steps where there are nice clean boundaries at every layer from the very most basic.  For RackN, that’s DHCP and PXE and then upto Kubernetes.
    • 15:15 Rob rants that renaming Ops teams as SRE is a failure because SRE has objectives like job equity that need to be included.
    • 16:00 Org silos get in the way of automation that have antibodies that make it difficult for SREs and DevOps to succeed.
    • 17:10 Those people have to be empowered to make change
    • 17:40 The existing tools must be pluggable or you are hurting operators.  There’s really no true greenfield, so we help people by making things work in existing data centers.
    • 19:00 Scripts may have technical debt but that does not mean they should just be disposed.
    • 19:20 New and shiney does not equal better.  For example, Container Linux (aka CoreOS) does not solve all problems.  
    • 20:10 We need to do better creating bridges between existing and new.
    • 20:40 How do we make Day 2 compelling?

  • 21:15 Brian asks about running OpenStack on Kubernetes.
    • 22:00 Rob is a fan of Kubernetes on Metal, but really, we don’t want metal and vms to be different.  That means that Kubernetes can be a universal underlay which is threatening to OpenStack.
    • 23:00 This is no longer a JOKE: “Joint OpenStack Kubernetes Environments”
    • 23:30 Running things on Kubernetes (or OpenStack) is great because the abstractions hide complexity of infrastructure; however, at the physical layer you need something that exposes that complexity (which is what RackN does).

  • 25:00 Brian asks at what point do you need to get past the easy abstractions
    • 25:30 You want to never care ever.  But sometimes you need the information for special cases.
    • 26:20 We don’t want to make the core APIs complex just to handle the special cases.
    • 27:00 There’s still a class of people who need to care about hardware.  These needs should not be embedded into the Kubernetes (or OpenStack) API.

  • 28:00 Brian summarizes that we should not turn 1% use cases into complexity for everyone.  We need to foster the skill of coding for operators
    • 28:45 For SREs, turning Operators into coding & automation is essential.  That’s a key point in the 50% programming statement for SREs.
    • In the closing, Rob suggested checking out Digital Rebar Provision as a Cobbler replacement.

We’re very invested in talking about SRE and want to hear from you! How is your company transforming operations work to make it more sustainable, robust and human?We want to hear your stories and questions.

June 16 – Weekly Recap of All Things Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)

Welcome to the weekly post of the RackN blog recap of all things SRE. If you have any ideas for this recap or would like to include content please contact us at info@rackn.com or tweet Rob (@zehicle) or RackN (@rack ngo)

SRE Items of the Week

The Cloudcast #301 – SRE and Infrastructure Operations
http://www.thecloudcast.net/2017/06/the-cloudcast-301-sre-and.html

Description: Brian talks with Rob Hirschfeld (@zehicle, Founder/CEO of @RackN) about the concepts of SRE (Site Reliability Engineering), the challenges of maintaining infrastructure software, emerging tools and the next-generation of operations.

Show Notes:

  • Topic 1 – Welcome back to the show. Let’s start by talking about the concept of SRE (Site Reliability Engineering). Give us the basics and maybe explain how it differs from what people define in DevOps.
  • Topic 2 – Application development has been moving faster for quite a while (agile development, etc.). But now infrastructure/operations teams have to deal with faster software – especially around updates (e.g. Kubernetes releases every 3 months). How are companies managing this?
  • Topic 3 – Given that this pace of operations change may not slow down, how do you think about the challenge in terms of process/operations versus technology/tools?
  • Topic 4 – What are some of the steps that companies take to better prepare for this type of operational model? Tools, process, skills, etc.
  • Topic 5 – Do you see SRE as being a progression for existing infrastructure/operations people, or is this more focused on sysadmins or developers that want to get away from building applications?

_____________

DevOps Enterprise Summit London: Tales of courage and community
https://techbeacon.com/devops-enterprise-summit-london-tales-courage-community

After spending two amazing days with 700 of my closest DevOps cohorts from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and beyond, I learned all about the latest and greatest IT and technology transformation reports at the DevOps Enterprise Summit London. With substantial growth in attendance from the first year, in 2016, the buzz around the show was palpable. And, what a location! From the venue, the QEII Centre, we had 360-degree views of central London, from Big Ben to the London Eye and beyond.

Read more from Steve Brodie, CEO of Electric Cloud @stbrodie
_____________

.IO! .IO! It’s off to a Service Mesh you should go [Gluecon 2017 notes]
http://bit.ly/2rjw4We  

Gluecon turned out to be all about a microservice concept called a “service mesh” which was being promoted by Buoyant with Linkerd and IBM/Google/Lyft with Istio.  This class of services is a natural evolution of the rush to microservices and something that I’ve written microservice technical architecture on TheNewStack about in the past. READ MORE
_____________

A few things I’ve learned about Kubernetes
https://jvns.ca/blog/2017/06/04/learning-about-kubernetes/

I’ve been learning about Kubernetes at work recently. I only started seriously thinking about it maybe 6 months ago – my partner Kamal has been excited about Kubernetes for a few years (him: “julia! you can run programs without worrying what computers they run on! it is so cool!“, me: “I don’t get it, how is that even possible”), but I understand it a lot better now.

This isn’t a comprehensive explanation or anything, it’s some things I learned along the way that have helped me understand what’s going on.

Read more from Julia Evans @b0rk
_____________

UPCOMING EVENTS

Rob Hirschfeld and Greg Althaus are preparing for a series of upcoming events where they are speaking or just attending. If you are interested in meeting with them at these events please email info@rackn.com.

  • 2017 New York Venture Summit – LINK

OTHER NEWSLETTERS