Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: The Phoenix Project

In a previous posting, I mentioned a new book out, The Phoenix Project.  Surprisingly, this is a novel that is "about IT, DevOps, and Helping your Business Win."  I had heard about it from a couple of IT Security colleagues, and had to check it out.

As I noted in my previous posting, the idea of process improvement in IT is one I've had an interest in over the years.  Up till now, nothing I had seen used had really done the job well.  This book is intended as an introduction to a new way of thinking about IT, called DevOps (a combination of Development and Operations, two groups in IT that are often at odds).

It might be strange to use a novel, but I am familiar with this from various business leadership works that use the "business parable", a fictional framework, to introduce leadership concepts.  Ken Blanchard is the most prevalent person to use this.

Overall I thought it a good introduction.  Having spent my career in IT, I saw in it several of the issues I've seen.  You see the frustration of the IT personnel to get the job done, but done well.  You see people circumventing the processes in place, making things work.  You see the frustration from upper management, who think that just outsourcing the whole thing will solve the problem.  You also see the skepticism of some about the new way of thinking (I've heard the same over the years from IT people when you try to bring about some level of organization in doing things).  And, yes, for those in the IT Security realm, we are included.  (the CISO of the company is one of the characters in the book).

The message of the book is about a more correct way of seeing IT, something that too many CEOs (and CIOs) fail to understand, to the detriment of their company (and their employees).  As summed up toward the end of this book: "IT is not merely a department.  Instead, it's pervasive, like electricity.  It's a skill, like being able to read or do math...Understanding what technology can and can't do has become a core competency that every part of the business must have."

The authors of this book have an associated website.  I encourage people to check it out.  Among other things are postings about DevOps, and the books and ideas that its based on.  Only a couple are mentioned in the book.  Also, more information is given about the "Three Ways" principles that underpin DevOps.  There is a good white paper there by Gene Kim, "Top 11 Things You Need to Know About DevOps".

This is all a lead up to the main book on DevOps, the DevOps Cookbook.  Not certain when it will be coming, but expect it soon.

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