Published on 10 December 2013 by

I read 73 books last year, mostly science fiction/fantasy, and I'm tracking to hit that number again this year. I thought it might be a fun idea to take my little reading obsession and see if I could come up with some lessons about DevOps as told through some of my favorite stories from science fiction. I did it as an Ignite talk for DevOpsDays Portland and London, so it was a quick, five minute sprint through how we can learn about DevOps from science fiction.

I'll cover a few highlights, but I encourage you to watch the video to get the full experience!


While the Tardis is a pretty cool piece of technology, Doctor Who is really about the people. The Doctor and his companions have very different skills, but they move together through time and space collaborating to solve the problems of the universe. We can only hope that Ops and Devs will learn to work as closely together to develop and deploy cool new software.

Mind the Morlocks

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In H. G. Well's book, The Time Machine, the time traveller went forward over 800,000 years into the future. He finds that humanity has completely changed, his time machine has been stolen, and getting it back is very difficult because he doesn’t understand exactly what has changed. This is why you should focus on making one change (or at least a very small number of changes) at a time.

It's Dead, Jim, But That's O.k.

In Star Trek, the red shirts beaming down with Kirk and Spock are almost always killed off on away missions. We don't want to treat people as expendable, but you can treat your servers like red shirts. Don’t worry if you need to destroy one, servers are expendable, and you can always spin up a new one to replace them if you've done a good job of automating the process.

There Can Be More Than One

Despite the fact that “there can be only one” immortal left at the end of The Gathering, older immortals still mentor the newer ones. Luckily, the people we mentor aren’t likely to kill us, and since we aren’t immortal, it’s important for us to train the next generation of people to take our place and maintain this new DevOps culture that we are growing within our organizations.

Ignite - What we can learn about DevOps from Science Fiction - Dawn Foster from devopsdays on Vimeo.

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