Published on 4 January 2013 by

Over the last month, we brought together nine DevOps blog posts from guest authors and Puppet Labs employees—covering the spectrum from development, SQA, and operations. These posts came in the form of technical tutorials, thought pieces, case studies, podcasts, and comics. We want to thank every one of our contributors for helping us end a great year, and setting the tone for a collaborative 2013.

James Turnbull, Has DevOps Made a Difference?

James looks at some of the data around DevOps jobs, the hype around the movement, and asks the big questions:

Some have argued DevOps jumped the shark when the first analyst added it to their portfolio. Whatever side of the argument you fell on, the DevOps movement provoked a lot of discussion about the future of IT management. But has DevOps resulted in changes in the culture and processes of IT organisations? Has DevOps become another silo in your organisation? Or are you still asking “What the hell is DevOps?”

Gene Kim, Why We Need DevOps Now

Gene makes a case for DevOps in three acts, and shares his favorite DevOps patterns. It's an engaging, and all-too-familiar IT story—but has a brighter ending than this snippet might imply:

The flow of features slows to a trickle, the deployments take even longer, more things go wrong, and because of all the moving pieces, issues take even longer to diagnose. All our best Dev and Ops people are spending all their time firefighting, and blaming each other when things go wrong.

Max Martin, Q: Are we not Devs? A: We are DevOps!

Max offered a peek into how Puppet Enterprise developers set up their dev environments by identifying constraints and the tools used to help meet the specific requirements.

For all the progress that has been made in software development, the unpleasant truth is that a great deal of software development and testing is done in fragile, unrealistic environments, often directly on developer machines. For many reasons, this approach (or lack of one) would never have worked for developing Puppet Enterprise. Apart from the fact that this would have cluttered (and potentially clobbered) developer machines, Puppet Enterprise is a complex and system-critical application, and lack of a sufficient development environment could allow bugs to lurk unnoticed.

Mitchell Hashimoto, Stronger DevOps Culture with Puppet and Vagrant

Fresh off the founding of Hashicorp, Mitchell writes a solid tutorial with both a "getting started with Puppet and Vagrant" component, as well as a section for more advanced users. He identifies how use of tools like Vagrant and Puppet support DevOps culture in the organization.

Using Puppet with Vagrant can help developers get more involved with operations. A closer relationship between these two teams results in a better understanding of the challenges faced by each and an ability to work together towards the common goal of shipping business value while maintaining overall system stability.

Dominic Maraglia, Mr. Engineering Manager, Tear Down This Wall: The Time for Cooperative Dev and QA is Now!

Dominic explains how we test software at Puppet Labs, how we got to our current implementation, and offers advice on what to tackle first as you move towards Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery in your organization.

Without the use of automated testing, both CI and CD, testing an entire Puppet Enterprise release would take a team of four QA engineers roughly three months. Clearly then, with such a large testing matrix, it is essential to provide teams with a self-serve CI system allowing ease of test automation, while providing transparency to code health and project status to the entire organization. The Continuous Delivery aspect of our testing system allows frequent deployment to real world test environments facilitating functional and integration testing. Each build proceeds through a logical progression of increasingly rigorous tests and environmental complexity on the way to being release ready. These frequent integrations, only possible due to our completely automated testing pipeline, are significantly less painful and less time consuming than larger, infrequent efforts.

Jez Humble, Andrew Cunningham, and Andrew Myers; A Deployment Pipeline for Infrastructure: A DevOps Case Study at NBN

This in-depth case study of maturing infrastructure at the fast-moving National Broadband Network is required reading for any organization that's just getting started, or looking to improve on an earlier iteration of their setup.

Because the NBN was in such a rapid startup mode, the infrastructure necessary to support the development of these websites and services was being created as the development proceeded. In development and test environments, projects could request new nodes and then manage them as they saw fit. In production-like environments, there were a limited number of available nodes that needed to be shared between multiple projects. However, each project focused only on their own infrastructure requirements and issues started to appear.

Patrick Debois, A Configuration Management Carol

Patrick wrote a 6-page IT automation comic that shows the true spirit of DevOps, while testing your DevOps trivia skills. Can you spot and identify all the references?

Dawn Foster, Mike Stahnke, Kelsey Hightower, and Eric Shamow; DevOps Culture Podcast

In this 40-minute podcast, these Puppet Labs employees talk about their cultural struggles and successes, and share how to bring DevOps cultural changes to your organization.

Nick Galbreath, DevOps: The Internal User Growth Team

Nick writes about how DevOps can expand its mandate to the entire organization (even teams outside of IT), and focuses on organization-wide data collection and exposure to identify and fix problems.

The current DevOps focus of merging software development and operations places an emphasis on automation and transparency, two characteristics that certainly work towards these improvement goals. But unless your company is in a hyper-growth phase (where you are always behind), the DevOps team is going to hit diminishing returns in traditional operations work. Can we apply the lessons learned to the other areas of the organization? By following the data, we find many opportunities for DevOps to expand its mandate.

Stay tuned for additional DevOps content in 2013, especially the results of our DevOps Survey—we've re-opened the survey for one final day, by popular request. You can still take and share the survey through midnight tonight. We'll start rolling out our analysis in February.

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