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DevOps Days Kiel Day 1

The first day of the first DevOps Days Kiel conference focused mostly in the culture and sharing aspects than the automation and measurement aspects . Understanding other’s expectations and motivations, being context aware and accepting that humans are limited in the amount of knowledge they can process were recurring themes.

Marta Paciorkowska , DevOps heroine at Acrolinx, gave a thought provoking talk on troubleshooting communication and uncovering hidden expectations, values and frustrations among team members. By asking her colleagues three simple questions (in particular biggest obstacles to DevOps in the organization and most important learning of last year) she came across a set of answers a lot more diverse and surprising than she expected. Making room to accomodate individual preferences (in terms of coding or documentation, for example), understanding fear (of being forced out of one’s comfort zone, for e.g. assigned a task for which the person doesn’t feel he or she has sufficient skills) and listening to complaints (building empathy with colleagues’ frustrations) were some of the key messages from the talk.

Oliver Siebenmarck , consultant for IBM, shared the story of an internal reporting project where the team learned the hard way that setting up adequate communication channels and expectations is more important than setting up an ideal tool chain. Other lessons learned included the realization (after an entire weekend of downtime) that being able to deploy to production is not the same as being able to operate systems in production.

Jan-Joost Bouwman , process owner of ITIL change management at ING, gave a pragmatic talk on how ITIL and DevOps can work together, even at a large financial institution, to achieve benefits from both approaches: speed and ownership from DevOps, compliance and repeatable processes from ITIL.

On a more technical perspective, Rafael Ördög , lead developer at Emarsys, shared how his team addressed failures in (business) transactions in a microservices architecture, given that distributed transactions are not an option when each microservice potentially uses a different database tool. The idea of idempotent compensating actions (a rollback action that always produces the same outcome, regardless of how many times it gets executed) allows managing distributed transactions in a centralized logging mechanism ( saga pattern ) by repeating compensating actions in a failure scenario as many times as needed until being sure of recovery.

Wayne Ariola , chief strategy officer at Parasoft, alerted to the very real impact (as in billions of dollars) of software glitches in company’s value (especially those traded in stock exchange). Ariola highlighted the need to go beyond just test automation and think of cost of failure in each candidate release. Ariola recommended mapping financial business risks (from company’s public financial statements) to quality controls in the software development process.

As usual in DevOps Days conferences, most of the afternoon was reserved for open spaces. Internal documentation and knowledge management as well as troubleshooting communication problems was a hot topic here, after being touched upon earlier in some of the talks.

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