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DevOps with Mitch Ashley, CTO of Techstrong Group (DevOps.com)
Episode 612th September 2022 • Modern Digital Business • Lee Atchison
00:00:00 00:41:44

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DevOps is now more mainstream. If you and your organization aren’t using DevOps principles, you are at a distinct disadvantage compared to your competition. And, “Doing DevOps” does not mean simply “hiring a DevOps team”. There’s more to it than that.

My guest today is Mitch Ashley, the CTO of Techstrong Group. Techstrong is the publishers of DevOps.com, and other publications. In this episode of Modern Digital Business, Mitch and I talk about the value of DevOps and how it fits into the structure of a modern digital application.

Topics we are discussing include:

  • The Value of DevOps
  • Continuous Deployment
  • Doing DevOps Right
  • Devs Don’t Like Ops?
  • Modern Applications
  • Failure *is* an option
  • Techstrong Group and DevOps.com

Today on Modern Digital Business.

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About Lee

Lee Atchison is a software architect, author, public speaker, and recognized thought leader on cloud computing and application modernization. His most recent book, Architecting for Scale (O’Reilly Media), is an essential resource for technical teams looking to maintain high availability and manage risk in their cloud environments. Lee has been widely quoted in multiple technology publications, including InfoWorld, Diginomica, IT Brief, Programmable Web, CIO Review, and DZone, and has been a featured speaker at events across the globe.

Take a look at Lee's many books, courses, and articles by going to leeatchison.com.

Looking to modernize your application organization?

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Mentioned in this episode:

Architecting for Scale

What does it take to operate a modern organization running a modern digital application? Read more in my O’Reilly Media book Architecting for Scale, now in its second edition. Go to: leeatchison.com/books or mdb.fm/afs.

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Transcripts

Lee:

DevOps is now mainstream.

Lee:

If you and your organization, aren't using DevOps principles, you are at a distinct

Lee:

disadvantage compared to your competition.

Lee:

And doing DevOps does not mean simply hiring a DevOps team.

Lee:

There's more to it than that, much more.

Lee:

My guest today is Mitch Ashley, the CTO of Techstrong group.

Lee:

Techstrong is the publishers of devops.com and other publications.

Lee:

In this episode of Modern Digital Business, Mitch and I talk about the

Lee:

value of DevOps and how it fits into the structure of a modern digital application.

Lee:

Are you ready?

Lee:

Let's go.

Lee:

So Mitch, DevOps started to appear in mainstream, it seems

Lee:

about about 2007 or 2008.

Lee:

I started using some DevOps types principles when I started

Lee:

at Amazon in 2005, but places at about 15 or 15 to 18 years old is

Lee:

what it, what it sounds like yet.

Lee:

It's still an essential skill that I find, you know, many organizations

Lee:

that are trying to modernize still struggle Um, you know, they're,

Lee:

know, they want to move to the cloud.

Lee:

They want to move to microservices.

Lee:

They wanna move to cloud native, but yet they still struggle

Lee:

with the basics of DevOps.

Lee:

What advice can you give to companies trying to modernize?

Lee:

yet they don't follow DevOps processes and systems,

Mitch Ashley:

They don't live and breathe it every day yet.

Mitch Ashley:

Right.

Mitch Ashley:

So.

Lee:

right.

Mitch Ashley:

Well, you know, it's, you know, we've gone through successive

Mitch Ashley:

transformations or generations of SDLC and different, different, I would call them

Mitch Ashley:

almost project management, life cycles for software engineering, um, and up and

Mitch Ashley:

into including Agile and things like that.

Mitch Ashley:

And I think what's different about DevOps and maybe why folks struggle

Mitch Ashley:

with that a little bit more is it's not a structure for project management.

Mitch Ashley:

It's not a structure just for managing work across functioning

Mitch Ashley:

across the organization.

Mitch Ashley:

Yeah.

Mitch Ashley:

Those things happen.

Mitch Ashley:

It's, it's also about how you, how you create software and the way you create it.

Mitch Ashley:

And what I think is a little bit mystifying at first is a lot of

Mitch Ashley:

the things share similarities or comes out of, you know, agile.

Mitch Ashley:

Some past past efforts, but it brings a lot from total quality management,

Mitch Ashley:

you know, the Deming era and from, uh, Toyota manufacturing and things

Mitch Ashley:

like Kanban boards and things that have shown up in agile, et cetera.

Mitch Ashley:

But.

Mitch Ashley:

What, what it's about.

Mitch Ashley:

I think it's a really convergence of multiple things.

Mitch Ashley:

So let me, let me describe it this way.

Mitch Ashley:

It's about how we create software in an era where we changed from being

Mitch Ashley:

resource limited in our data centers, to being virtually unlimited in our

Mitch Ashley:

resources, through cloud and through our laptops and develop anywhere strategies.

Mitch Ashley:

We have git show showing up distributed source code management.

Mitch Ashley:

You know, I can sit on the plane and develop on any part

Mitch Ashley:

of the source tree that you can.

Mitch Ashley:

And, um, at the same time, introducing some new evolution of architectures into

Mitch Ashley:

cloud, native microservices, et cetera.

Mitch Ashley:

And so why I mentioned all of those together with DevOps is because dev

Mitch Ashley:

ops now thinks of things in much smaller pieces of work, much smaller

Mitch Ashley:

cycles, much more concurrency of all those things happening at once.

Mitch Ashley:

We can develop much more quickly in much, much smaller increments, and we

Mitch Ashley:

can deliver those things more quickly.

Mitch Ashley:

So that's very different than we're going to go...

Mitch Ashley:

we're going to take a product release and divided into sprints and do six

Mitch Ashley:

sprints, and then we'll have a release.

Mitch Ashley:

Then we'll push out.

Lee:

Right.

Mitch Ashley:

Six two weeks sprints or whatever our metrics are.

Mitch Ashley:

It is literally getting to the point where you can, if we had a security

Mitch Ashley:

emergency this afternoon, you potentially could issue a patch today, tomorrow

Mitch Ashley:

within hours within days, you know, very quickly because the software smaller,

Mitch Ashley:

the process is smaller and faster and it's all, or a lot of it is automated.

Mitch Ashley:

So I think that.

Mitch Ashley:

You're there isn't a manifesto to follow it.

Mitch Ashley:

Isn't like the agile manifesto.

Mitch Ashley:

Right.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, there were just some principles that were kind of set about at the

Mitch Ashley:

beginning and I think it's evolving.

Mitch Ashley:

Wow.

Mitch Ashley:

It's while we're, while we're implementing.

Mitch Ashley:

So, you know, we are building the plane while we're flying it, you know,

Mitch Ashley:

the old analogy does that help Lee?

Mitch Ashley:

I know it's a bit, it's a big answer to a core question, but I

Mitch Ashley:

think it is really a little bit of all of those things happening.

Lee:

It absolutely does help.

Lee:

I, you know, I certainly, when I talk to people about dev ops, um, I talked

Lee:

to them much that it's a cultural transformation as it is a specific

Lee:

set of processes and procedures.

Lee:

And it's more.

Lee:

Maybe it's an umbrella that covers lots of different things.

Lee:

You know, one of the questions I comes up and matter of fact, I did want

Lee:

to ask you about that is what's the difference between agile and dev ops.

Lee:

And just like you can ask the question, what's the difference

Lee:

between microservices and dev ops and microservices and agile and these

Lee:

different technologies there's they solve part of the overall problem,

Lee:

but DevOps kind of feels like.

Lee:

The umbrella that encompasses a lot of these things together, like cloud

Lee:

native is an umbrella term dev ops very much as is an umbrella term as well.

Mitch Ashley:

Yeah.

Mitch Ashley:

I very much agree.

Mitch Ashley:

I think of agile.

Mitch Ashley:

Bringing in one really big thing to the table and that's

Mitch Ashley:

resource constraining by time.

Mitch Ashley:

I mean, I figured out earlier on in my career, any, any software

Mitch Ashley:

project longer than three months was always going to be delayed.

Mitch Ashley:

Matter probably longer than a month that I was always going to be late.

Mitch Ashley:

So agile because of my learning, but some of the very smart people

Mitch Ashley:

said, look, let's restart those top resource by time bounding it.

Mitch Ashley:

And that's the main core principle is you build it around those, those cycles

Mitch Ashley:

where DevOps is it isn't time bounded, but it's holding time as a critical

Mitch Ashley:

resource to do things very quickly.

Mitch Ashley:

And, you know, as quickly as possible, that makes sense.

Mitch Ashley:

Of course, but it doesn't, you know, we're in a continuous integration,

Mitch Ashley:

so we can always do testing we're in a continuous testing cycle.

Mitch Ashley:

So we can test multiple environments because we're automating, not just the

Mitch Ashley:

testing and integration, but the creation of environments, test environments.

Mitch Ashley:

You've lived in product environments where you may have three, four gens of your

Mitch Ashley:

product that you need to test at once.

Mitch Ashley:

So it is a convergence of a lot of those things and an umbrella term, like you say.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

When I started at, uh, I mentioned when I started at Amazon in 2005,

Lee:

we were doing what I call dev ops principles, basic ideas we were doing.

Lee:

Uh, th the concept of the single ownership, right?

Lee:

Ownership of both the development side and the operation side

Lee:

being single organization.

Lee:

So you didn't have an operations group, you had to be service owner.

Lee:

Um, and, but, but yet we still had the monolithic application.

Lee:

And so we still had, you know, two week release cycles and everyone had

Lee:

three days to test their part of the model left before the release went out.

Lee:

And if somebody didn't get the testing done, The release didn't go out.

Lee:

So of the things that I found that I spent a lot of my time as, as a manager

Lee:

and I grew up was spending time getting other teams motivated to do what

Lee:

they needed to do in order to click the yes, I approve of this release.

Lee:

So we get the green light for everyone before the whole thing went out.

Lee:

So it was dev ops types ideas.

Lee:

But forgetting the agile aspect of it.

Lee:

And, you know, one of the things we were doing was trying to move to a service

Lee:

architecture get rid of that problem.

Lee:

And that's really was the, move of Amazon into more what I would

Lee:

call more agile principles.

Lee:

And now companies like Amazon they'll released, you know, Thousands and

Lee:

thousands and thousands of times a day, or in many cases an hour.

Lee:

Um, and they're very, very agile, very nimble as an organization.

Lee:

And that's quite a transformation over just 15 years and really it's dev ops

Lee:

along with agile, that's really has led to that sort of transformation

Lee:

that company like Amazon could not have existed the principles of DevOps.

Lee:

I wonder if you've seen similar stories in other companies.

Mitch Ashley:

I do remember there are things you remember in your career.

Mitch Ashley:

You're like I went to this conference, I went to the first re:Invent.

Mitch Ashley:

And I had been working in Amazon for awhile and it, and it appeared

Mitch Ashley:

to be like, okay, so it's a cloud-based data center environment.

Mitch Ashley:

I can spin up S2 for storage and EC2, et cetera.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, the S3, sorry.

Mitch Ashley:

And, and I went to this session where an Amazon person talked about

Mitch Ashley:

how they change the deployments, you know, from the rolling deployments,

Mitch Ashley:

kind of where you used to, or the big weekend deployment, right?

Mitch Ashley:

The two, every two weeks, you kind of freeze everything and everybody

Mitch Ashley:

shows up for the weekend for pizza.

Mitch Ashley:

And he talked about how, no, we don't do that anymore.

Mitch Ashley:

We take where you spin up some more servers.

Mitch Ashley:

We put the new version on there on a few servers and a segment of region

Mitch Ashley:

of the globe or whatever it might be.

Mitch Ashley:

We point some traffic there with the new version of things running on it.

Mitch Ashley:

We expand that pretty soon we expand it to be large enough to cover the.

Mitch Ashley:

Well, all of our production, then we start winding down the

Mitch Ashley:

servers, running new version.

Mitch Ashley:

Okay.

Mitch Ashley:

There, that's how the clouds are different.

Mitch Ashley:

That it's not just your data center.

Mitch Ashley:

Right.

Mitch Ashley:

And the same thing can happen with me with DevOps because I was running a, an

Mitch Ashley:

it organization that supported a lot of other development organizations when we

Mitch Ashley:

were first moving to the cloud and we were doing like early OpenStack stuff and

Mitch Ashley:

using Amazon and some things like that.

Mitch Ashley:

So as in this kind of automating the infrastructure part of it.

Mitch Ashley:

And then once I started to see.

Mitch Ashley:

Teams did more and more development on GIT and started doing smaller

Mitch Ashley:

and smaller releases, like, okay, there's something there.

Mitch Ashley:

And then a friend of mine, Alan Schimmel, who is CEO editor in chief, chief editor

Mitch Ashley:

of devops.com a Techstrong group, he said, I've got this new domain, devops.com.

Mitch Ashley:

You need to go read about it, right?

Mitch Ashley:

Like, what is this?

Mitch Ashley:

So I wrote my first about.

Mitch Ashley:

Sort of the, more of a open kimono.

Mitch Ashley:

Here's what I'm trying to figure out what this is, what exactly it is.

Mitch Ashley:

And that started my journey onto it.

Mitch Ashley:

And we, transformed the organizations to a dev ops organization.

Mitch Ashley:

I later did another cloud migration or took a big model with a DotNet

Mitch Ashley:

application, move to Amazon rearchitected, a portion of it into microservices because

Mitch Ashley:

no one would touch 90% of the code.

Mitch Ashley:

Those kinds of things, but you go through those, those experiences where you go.

Mitch Ashley:

Ah, okay.

Mitch Ashley:

That makes sense.

Mitch Ashley:

I understand why this is useful and important.

Mitch Ashley:

It's not, um, uh, you know, we have used to have the methodology debates, right?

Mitch Ashley:

It's not a methodology debate.

Mitch Ashley:

There's some real, real value and some real benefits you can get.

Mitch Ashley:

And when you see that you go, that I'm going to do that more of that.

Lee:

So one other thing I see is I go and work with clients as I see the, the

Lee:

company that says, yes, we do DevOps, see over there, that's the dev ops team.

Lee:

And that it's a, it's a, the definition of dev ops is they have a group

Lee:

that's responsible for dev ops and

Mitch Ashley:

I have one.

Mitch Ashley:

I have a dev

Lee:

they, set it aside.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

Right.

Lee:

Exactly.

Lee:

I bought one.

Lee:

There we go.

Lee:

It's right over there Yeah So

Lee:

what, what's wrong with our model?

Lee:

What are they missing?

Lee:

What, what are they realizing when they do that model?

Mitch Ashley:

Well, DevOps, isn't a thing.

Mitch Ashley:

It isn't a person.

Mitch Ashley:

It's a how right.

Mitch Ashley:

So you can hire yes.

Mitch Ashley:

You need people and you benefit by bringing in people who've

Mitch Ashley:

done some or all of it before.

Mitch Ashley:

Right?

Mitch Ashley:

Sure.

Mitch Ashley:

It's ultimately all about people, but it's what I would ask is great.

Mitch Ashley:

Tell me about the work that your dev ops team is doing and.

Mitch Ashley:

How's that gone?

Mitch Ashley:

Are you, are you like, this is great.

Mitch Ashley:

We're kind of leaving it where it is.

Mitch Ashley:

It's kind of keeping it happy where we are.

Mitch Ashley:

Are you expanding it into your organization?

Mitch Ashley:

How's that going?

Mitch Ashley:

Cause that's a whole nother set of challenges, transforming an

Mitch Ashley:

organization to do work that way.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, so I mean, that's, my response is, you know, that's

Mitch Ashley:

some managers on their resume.

Mitch Ashley:

I implemented dev ops at our company.

Mitch Ashley:

I have one.

Lee:

Yeah

Mitch Ashley:

Wrong answer.

Lee:

Yep.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

I know what you mean.

Lee:

I've I have seen me the center of excellence model

Mitch Ashley:

Well, that's different

Lee:

That's different, right?

Lee:

Where they have a dev ops team.

Lee:

That's is to, uh, spread the word of dev ops and spread the, the process and

Lee:

to train the organization into the, and help with the cultural transformation.

Lee:

But more often than not, that's, you know, maybe they think

Lee:

that's what they want to do.

Lee:

But the end up with you have an ops team.

Lee:

I have a development team and here's the dev ops team.

Lee:

So therefore we're all set and that's the

Mitch Ashley:

At pizza together every day.

Mitch Ashley:

So we

Lee:

Have pizza.

Lee:

Exactly.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

They, they meet for pizza once a week, so they you know?

Mitch Ashley:

you know, the, the center of excellent idea

Mitch Ashley:

and dojo's and things like that.

Mitch Ashley:

Dev ops dojo's.

Mitch Ashley:

Yup.

Mitch Ashley:

I think there's the control way.

Mitch Ashley:

We used to do things to the approved product list.

Mitch Ashley:

Here's the approved architectures.

Mitch Ashley:

You can, Josh, I'll do this way, software this way.

Mitch Ashley:

And then there's the more the Switzerland approach we're trying to, um, collect

Mitch Ashley:

knowledge and share knowledge and increase everyone's experience.

Mitch Ashley:

And then.

Mitch Ashley:

Uh, create some things that make, make it easier.

Mitch Ashley:

Like here's the environment, you can spin it automatically.

Mitch Ashley:

You don't have to go through that learning curve.

Mitch Ashley:

Uh, several of them, depending on what you're trying to do or in the

Mitch Ashley:

environment, here's the tool chain or set of tool chains that we've developed.

Mitch Ashley:

And we maintain for you.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, that's constantly changing.

Mitch Ashley:

It's not a fixed thing, right?

Mitch Ashley:

It's not an approved product list.

Mitch Ashley:

I mean, you can't just go buy that off the shelf, even with the

Mitch Ashley:

ones that have it off the shelf.

Mitch Ashley:

Right.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, but th those kinds of ideas of let's enable and empower and equip people

Mitch Ashley:

for a center of excellence or a dojo or whatever it might be called that.

Mitch Ashley:

Is is super effective because then it's non-threatening cause most people

Mitch Ashley:

going through a transformation, a big change, the first question they

Mitch Ashley:

don't say, but they ask is what does this mean for me in my job?

Mitch Ashley:

I going to have a job, right.

Mitch Ashley:

And when we started dev ops this, oh, we don't need the ops people anymore.

Mitch Ashley:

Guess what?

Mitch Ashley:

We have SREs

Lee:

a more than never.

Mitch Ashley:

in platform engineering and we need more people

Mitch Ashley:

in ops doing, doing what we might have thought of as ops things.

Mitch Ashley:

So.

Mitch Ashley:

It's I think there's threatening ways and there are embracing ways that

Mitch Ashley:

will bring people into the process.

Lee:

That makes sense.

Lee:

That makes sense.

Lee:

I, I, another model that I've seen companies use that, uh, I think

Lee:

it's, it's well-meaning, but doesn't quite get the job done either.

Lee:

It's the, I call the center practice versus a center of excellence and the,

Lee:

the difference, I, I think there is a, you think of a center of practice, you,

Lee:

you think about a multidisciplinary.

Lee:

Team that gets together and negotiates and figures out, if we do all of

Lee:

this, then this is all good stuff.

Lee:

And so it's more of a democratic way of coming up with the process

Lee:

of what we're going to do.

Lee:

So you get everyone together.

Lee:

It's much more of a, mind is much more of a kumbaya sort of experience.

Lee:

Right?

Lee:

You get everyone together.

Lee:

Good things will happen, which is, which is fine.

Lee:

That concept.

Lee:

But what it seems to miss is.

Lee:

Directed energy that a center of excellence does center of excellence

Lee:

will, you know, it's more of a outward knowledge transfer versus a let's

Lee:

collect what we can find and put it together, and maybe something good will

Lee:

come out of the soup that we're mixing.

Lee:

I don't know if you end up seeing things like that, but it's, it's much

Lee:

more of a law or it's much less of a directed approach to, move into that.

Lee:

I see this with cloud migrations to, much less of a direction and much

Lee:

more of a feel, good experience for the people involved than it.

Lee:

Is.

Lee:

Yes, let's focus and direct ourselves and migrating to this direction.

Mitch Ashley:

I think what you're saying, I don't have that exact experience

Mitch Ashley:

what you're talking about, but I think what you might be hitting on something

Mitch Ashley:

super important is, the worst problem to have is to not have a big problem

Mitch Ashley:

that you're, uh, that you're rallied around going after and challenge

Mitch Ashley:

to fix or to address or to achieve.

Mitch Ashley:

It's, you know, we're, we're here to create standards for the organization by

Mitch Ashley:

the standards were meant to be broken.

Mitch Ashley:

Yeah, it does very much in our culture today, even more so with developers

Mitch Ashley:

and dev ops and open source, I think what, what you might really be getting

Mitch Ashley:

to the heart of it, something really important is when you have a rallying

Mitch Ashley:

event, cry, purpose, objective goal, that helps bring people together to

Mitch Ashley:

say, you know, we, we, the corporation.

Mitch Ashley:

Really faced with some tough times here, economically our supply

Mitch Ashley:

chains have been decimated and we've got to rebuild them, but we're

Mitch Ashley:

going to rebuild them differently.

Mitch Ashley:

We, you know, have to figure out to really create not just online

Mitch Ashley:

systems, but digital experiences that differentiate us from the

Mitch Ashley:

competition because they're doing it.

Mitch Ashley:

And we're seeing the effect of it.

Mitch Ashley:

Not so good on our side, whatever that is.

Mitch Ashley:

That, especially if you can link it to something that's customer effecting

Mitch Ashley:

or business affecting, not just, we want fewer bugs or something,

Mitch Ashley:

that's very internally driven.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, that helps say, okay, well then let's work on this, right.

Mitch Ashley:

We're going to work together and we're going to share what we learn

Mitch Ashley:

on the parts that we work on.

Mitch Ashley:

And.

Mitch Ashley:

We ha we can't do it alone.

Mitch Ashley:

We, we can do it together.

Mitch Ashley:

And that forces you to share and not create new silos.

Mitch Ashley:

You know, you're wiping out old ones.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, I was on a, uh, recording earlier today.

Mitch Ashley:

We're talking about, we're going to start naming them, um, game of Thrones

Mitch Ashley:

houses instead of silos, right?

Mitch Ashley:

There's some, there's some fitting analogies there.

Mitch Ashley:

I think

Lee:

Actually, absolutely.

Lee:

Yes.

Lee:

Yes.

Mitch Ashley:

that was the inside out now.

Mitch Ashley:

And, uh, but anyway, the point being, I think grid you're getting after is when

Mitch Ashley:

you have something that you're driving towards that has a purpose behind it that

Mitch Ashley:

helps everybody know why we're doing this.

Mitch Ashley:

Why are we doing this too?

Mitch Ashley:

Shall pass.

Mitch Ashley:

It's the latest, bad dev ops.

Mitch Ashley:

What do we know?

Mitch Ashley:

Something will be next in a year and we'll move on to that, but we'll never do it.

Mitch Ashley:

Well, when you have a purpose and something, that's going to pull

Mitch Ashley:

people together, then you really focus on how to achieve something.

Lee:

Yes.

Lee:

That advice.

Lee:

That that is fantastic.

Lee:

Oh the

Mitch Ashley:

Worth what you paid for it it's free.

Mitch Ashley:

So that

Lee:

Absolutely.

Lee:

Absolutely.

Lee:

So actually read an article.

Lee:

, it was this last week, , that came out, in InfoWorld and the title of the

Lee:

article was devs don't want to do ops in the premise of the article was, was

Lee:

engineers don't want to do opposite of.

Lee:

And that companies need more control over their ops.

Lee:

And so therefore dev ops is losing favor and there articles premises

Lee:

at what has been replaced by is platform engineering and SRAs and

Lee:

that model, dev ops is going away.

Lee:

I figured you might have some thoughts on this article and I'd love to hear

Lee:

what you, what you think about this.

Mitch Ashley:

But I don't want to offend the author.

Mitch Ashley:

They may be somebody really important.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, it sounds like a real, those are really good trees article.

Mitch Ashley:

And by the way, we live in a forest, there's a thing by, I would argue that dev

Mitch Ashley:

ops is one of the things that helps create this other things, platform engineering,

Mitch Ashley:

where you go, go read the Phoenix book.

Mitch Ashley:

If you haven't.

Mitch Ashley:

What's the first thing they do is automate setting up environments, right?

Mitch Ashley:

That's platform engineering in a cloud environment in a, in a simplistic

Mitch Ashley:

comparison, but it is an SRE.

Mitch Ashley:

Uh, we do a whole show and at tech strong called the show and we were just having

Mitch Ashley:

a fantastic debate the other day about, about the role of SRE and observability.

Mitch Ashley:

And how much is the SRE is driving the need or do they manage observability?

Mitch Ashley:

How it's configured or does that eventually evolve back into development?

Mitch Ashley:

And the reason why I bring that up.

Mitch Ashley:

Again, it's not silos, right?

Mitch Ashley:

It's those are all part of one continuous.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, Ecosystem of creating software that has continuity between why do we have SRE?

Mitch Ashley:

Because we have automation and because we have more complexity than

Mitch Ashley:

we had 10 years ago, and we have the ability now to equip people and skills

Mitch Ashley:

people with the skills to go automate performance engineering, automate how to.

Mitch Ashley:

Uh, be more resilient in our software and best guess what they call, they

Mitch Ashley:

can't implement all that stuff.

Mitch Ashley:

They're going to work with developers to, to do a lot of those things.

Mitch Ashley:

And when, when they learn from that and it's going to help developers

Mitch Ashley:

with understanding what is happening inside of our software, right.

Mitch Ashley:

It developers, we think we understand it because we created it.

Mitch Ashley:

We created it.

Mitch Ashley:

How much of the stack we're running on, maybe a third of it.

Mitch Ashley:

If we're lucky, right?

Mitch Ashley:

The rest of it is all open source and third-party services and SAS,

Mitch Ashley:

and no one person understands it.

Mitch Ashley:

So I would argue dev ops help create it, create the need, both the

Mitch Ashley:

need and the opportunity for those other disciplines and that they

Mitch Ashley:

are part of one continuous thing.

Mitch Ashley:

It kind of fall reminds me of back to the, oh, we won't need ops people anymore

Mitch Ashley:

where we won't need dev people more.

Mitch Ashley:

Here's the other argument I would make.

Mitch Ashley:

I would agree with the article developers.

Mitch Ashley:

Don't like doing ops, guess what?

Mitch Ashley:

They're going to automate it because they don't like doing it.

Mitch Ashley:

They don't want to at 3:00 AM calling another developer saying, I

Mitch Ashley:

don't know what you're going doing, dude, but it's, you know, it sucks.

Mitch Ashley:

You need to get in there and fix it and then won't do that either.

Mitch Ashley:

So that's, that's the whole idea of.

Mitch Ashley:

Bringing disciplines together is we're going to bring automation to the things

Mitch Ashley:

that can help us bring, do automation.

Mitch Ashley:

We're going to bring more data engineering into observability and do understand how

Mitch Ashley:

to use and implement tracing better going back into our hands so we can architect it

Mitch Ashley:

in, you know, this is your world, right?

Mitch Ashley:

Architecting it in traceability into our code based on what we learned on

Mitch Ashley:

the last time when we didn't have it, when we started and we had added later.

Mitch Ashley:

So anyway, long, long, long answer to the article that you're referencing.

Mitch Ashley:

Those are also, I wrote an article like that once, by the way, I wrote

Mitch Ashley:

an article when I was blogging for network world, when, uh, there was

Mitch Ashley:

a document leak by Microsoft about their new, new Microsoft phone OS and

Mitch Ashley:

I said, yeah, the death of the iPhone.

Mitch Ashley:

Cause I was mad at apple about something and I got.

Mitch Ashley:

The highest hit volume hit.

Mitch Ashley:

I also got fireball for it.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, and then I got fireball again, three years when someone back and said

Mitch Ashley:

he was wrong, then he's wrong now.

Mitch Ashley:

But those are the agitator articles.

Mitch Ashley:

So maybe

Lee:

it.

Lee:

Yep.

Mitch Ashley:

clickbait.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

no, I know what you mean.

Lee:

I I've, I ran a number of articles and certainly one of the best articles.

Lee:

They're the ones where you can say, yeah, this person was wrong here's

Lee:

why, those get those digging a lot of

Mitch Ashley:

We call that trolling now, but yes,

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

That's true.

Lee:

That's true.

Lee:

try and do it in a positive way, but it's uh, it's.

Lee:

It's good.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

Yeah.

Mitch Ashley:

You have the discipline to do that.

Mitch Ashley:

Some of

Mitch Ashley:

us

Mitch Ashley:

don't have that, but

Lee:

on certain topics.

Lee:

So I don't think we all sometimes do and sometimes doubt it on the topic that true.

Mitch Ashley:

very true.

Lee:

So, you know the name of this podcast is modern digital business.

Lee:

And, you know, when I, I use words, modern applications, modern businesses,

Lee:

and a lot of the writing that I do.

Lee:

And, usually this means some combination of cloud cloud native dev ops agile

Lee:

is, you know, certainly SRE, um, you know, microservices, scalable

Lee:

architecture is high availability.

Lee:

All those.

Lee:

But when you hear the term modern application or modern business, what

Lee:

specifically comes to mind to you?

Mitch Ashley:

I think there's, there's two sides of the coin

Mitch Ashley:

there's modernization, right.

Mitch Ashley:

Which is kind of catching up.

Mitch Ashley:

Right.

Mitch Ashley:

And there are people who were in that world.

Mitch Ashley:

Who maybe haven't invested as much in going digital or were kept up or need to,

Mitch Ashley:

you know, rip and replace in some cases.

Mitch Ashley:

And then I think there is contemporary modern, which is there are technologies

Mitch Ashley:

and approaches and things that we have that are closer to, to state-of-the-art

Mitch Ashley:

and not necessarily bleeding edge.

Mitch Ashley:

Uh, can enable us to do things that we couldn't do three,

Mitch Ashley:

five years ago, et cetera.

Mitch Ashley:

So I think when I read what you write, I'm a fan boy and enjoy what you do.

Mitch Ashley:

So thanks.

Mitch Ashley:

Thanks for contributing the way you do when it re and I listened to your podcast.

Mitch Ashley:

And I think, I think what you've created with this podcast is fantastic because.

Mitch Ashley:

Our role as technologists in that side of our role is not just

Mitch Ashley:

being technical technologist.

Mitch Ashley:

It's bridging the gap, it's connecting and collaborating between

Mitch Ashley:

the business, with the business and with technology teams, right?

Mitch Ashley:

We're not doing this for something other than technology sake.

Mitch Ashley:

You know, if your startup it's going to fail.

Mitch Ashley:

If you're a project it's going to fail, you know, all that kind of stuff, but

Mitch Ashley:

that's why that's why businesses are looking at technology differently.

Mitch Ashley:

Like I don't call my team it in my company.

Mitch Ashley:

I re I, I, I do not like to call it that because that hearkens of

Mitch Ashley:

the day of the land of no, and kind of, we put a ball, those people in

Mitch Ashley:

one place so they can talk stuff.

Mitch Ashley:

So we don't have to talk to them.

Mitch Ashley:

We're in a world today where.

Mitch Ashley:

Businesses.

Mitch Ashley:

See other companies do this, they, and we need to be able to do it in

Mitch Ashley:

our business if we aren't already.

Mitch Ashley:

And that is every executive has to be a little bit of a technology executive.

Mitch Ashley:

As a matter if your CEO CFO's chief strategy, officer,

Mitch Ashley:

product, officer, whatever.

Mitch Ashley:

They have their, their job is to figure out also how to leverage

Mitch Ashley:

technology to their benefit defensively.

Mitch Ashley:

You know, I was an offensive strategy go after new markets,

Mitch Ashley:

increasing competitiveness, customer acquisition, whatever it is in

Mitch Ashley:

a modern business environment.

Mitch Ashley:

And as you talk about it, I automatically think about how can these things advantage

Mitch Ashley:

us in our company, our business, our team, our product, what we're part of,

Mitch Ashley:

and that's the connection we have to make.

Mitch Ashley:

That's how we can best serve all of us and our customers, our individual careers

Mitch Ashley:

by figuring out what can we do that?

Mitch Ashley:

Couldn't do six months ago, or if we do get our release cycle from a week down

Mitch Ashley:

to twice a week, what would that do?

Mitch Ashley:

How would that change?

Mitch Ashley:

How we work or how we deliver for our customer?

Mitch Ashley:

And what happens is, as we do things like cloud native and dev ops and

Mitch Ashley:

other things is the businesses.

Mitch Ashley:

Now looking at technology organizations differently, they're looking at as,

Mitch Ashley:

as an organization, I can trust.

Mitch Ashley:

Distrust to deliver if you can deliver, not only does that mean I can go after

Mitch Ashley:

this, I can introduce a new product.

Mitch Ashley:

I can introduce a product in this part of the world, in this market, on

Mitch Ashley:

this level, as an experiment, as a, you know, to test things in market.

Mitch Ashley:

I couldn't do that before.

Mitch Ashley:

It was always a three-year effort to get something rolled out.

Mitch Ashley:

Right?

Mitch Ashley:

If you sarcastic about it, but really probably happens a lot.

Mitch Ashley:

So now businesses not only trust.

Mitch Ashley:

To deliver, but also react when something happens that's bad.

Mitch Ashley:

Maybe it really messed up.

Mitch Ashley:

Maybe we guessed way off.

Mitch Ashley:

We got to course correct fast.

Mitch Ashley:

I think that's, what's, that's, what's important about modern business

Mitch Ashley:

from a technology perspective.

Lee:

Yep.

Lee:

I couldn't have said it better and I much appreciate that response.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

And my mind, The ability to make mistakes and missed and correct from and respond

Lee:

to them and, um, and, and recover from them quickly one of the biggest aspects.

Lee:

And that's exactly, I think, at the heart of what you were trying to say there.

Lee:

So

Mitch Ashley:

Yeah, I think there's a, we should, we should do, we should do

Mitch Ashley:

a podcast on the side called, um, you know, what's the, you know, you can't

Mitch Ashley:

fail over expression from the NASA era.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, too big to fail.

Mitch Ashley:

It's not too big to fail.

Mitch Ashley:

Expression from that from the Apollo

Lee:

Oh,

Lee:

um

Mitch Ashley:

blank.

Lee:

I was, it, was it, um, Gene, what's his name?

Lee:

I

Mitch Ashley:

Yeah.

Mitch Ashley:

Gene

Mitch Ashley:

um, having a blank, which was ironic.

Lee:

Failure's not an option

Mitch Ashley:

are not option.

Mitch Ashley:

Okay.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

Gene Kranz,

Mitch Ashley:

Yes, Gene Kranz.

Mitch Ashley:

So, which is actually totally wrong.

Mitch Ashley:

It's a thousand percent.

Mitch Ashley:

It's not enough when he has an option to fail, it's required to failure.

Mitch Ashley:

What, what couldn't happen is people can't die.

Mitch Ashley:

That's what couldn't happen in the Apollo 13 mission, right?

Mitch Ashley:

It wasn't that they couldn't fail because if you think about Apollo

Mitch Ashley:

13, how many ideas did they try?

Mitch Ashley:

The round versus the square scrubber and the duct tape and the hose

Mitch Ashley:

and all the mishmash of parts.

Mitch Ashley:

And they failed the hundreds of times to get to something that would finally work

Mitch Ashley:

that would work in, in that environment and with the people they were in.

Mitch Ashley:

But they same with pairing up the limb.

Mitch Ashley:

Right.

Mitch Ashley:

You know, I had 10, 10 apps and couldn't go above that.

Mitch Ashley:

And what was the sequence and all that stuff.

Mitch Ashley:

They failed

Lee:

many times they try and fail?

Mitch Ashley:

Exactly.

Mitch Ashley:

So that, to your point, it's about.

Mitch Ashley:

Experimenting trying, learning, you know, and applying all that and just

Mitch Ashley:

not repeating the failures right.

Mitch Ashley:

When, when you've already made them.

Mitch Ashley:

But that's the environment

Lee:

it matters the size of the failure, right?

Lee:

I mean, when you're talking about, you know, a, failure, meaning the

Lee:

ship will die is, is one thing that is a failure because this

Lee:

one test didn't quite go right.

Lee:

And we have to do another test five minutes from now that's a,

Lee:

that's a whole different thing.

Lee:

And I think one of the whole basic concepts of agile and dev

Lee:

ops would be part of that is make your failures as tiny as possible.

Lee:

And quick as.

Lee:

You want more failures, but make them smaller and quicker and faster so

Lee:

you can recover from them quickly.

Mitch Ashley:

Exactly.

Mitch Ashley:

So that, that, that attitude and you, and talking about cultural

Mitch Ashley:

transformation, that's a huge one.

Mitch Ashley:

That's a lot realizations point failures, not, you don't

Mitch Ashley:

want to tell anybody about it.

Mitch Ashley:

Failure that would career limiting move, right?

Lee:

Yeah, I, I went to a client once they had a huge QA department.

Lee:

And they said one of the biggest problems is that we spend all this time building

Lee:

something and then it takes six months to go through QA before we release.

Lee:

And I said, okay, we'll just get rid of that.

Lee:

Stop.

Lee:

Well, it can't not past, is that why?

Lee:

Why not?

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

Well, why do you need to test them the whole concept of without testing?

Lee:

It was foreign to them and, you know, yes, no, I'm not suggesting

Lee:

that everybody could not test their code before they release it.

Lee:

It's not at all what I'm suggesting, but the fact is you move to a model

Lee:

where mistake in code creates a tiny problem, that you can correct.

Lee:

Then testing becomes irrelevant and because you can correct refine

Lee:

and refresh very, very quickly.

Lee:

And the problem that you had up the scope of the problem

Lee:

ends up being insignificant.

Lee:

And that's really The goal isn't to not test the goal is to make it so

Lee:

that failures are so small that you can deal with them and handle them.

Lee:

And they don't ruin the entire project.

Lee:

They just ruined one tiny aspect of that.

Lee:

It's very simple and easy to recover from.

Mitch Ashley:

And think I totally agree and think, think about this is another

Mitch Ashley:

thing that's changed, but we don't talk about it is we live in a world where.

Mitch Ashley:

Massive amounts of telemetry about what our applications are doing, what

Mitch Ashley:

our users are doing, all of that.

Mitch Ashley:

So the real, the real answers we're actually all just

Mitch Ashley:

testing each other's software.

Mitch Ashley:

We don't call it that we call it.

Mitch Ashley:

But really, I mean, seriously, because problems can be narrowed down.

Mitch Ashley:

It can be much smaller in size and scope and we have not real time, but near

Mitch Ashley:

real time data about what's happening.

Mitch Ashley:

We can validate things.

Mitch Ashley:

We can see things happening.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, we just went through a release, a pretty big upgrade of, uh,

Mitch Ashley:

techstrong.tv or video platform.

Mitch Ashley:

And we moved from a different way of doing our video player

Mitch Ashley:

and all that kind of stuff.

Mitch Ashley:

And.

Mitch Ashley:

We had this meeting.

Mitch Ashley:

I'm like, are we ready?

Mitch Ashley:

Okay.

Mitch Ashley:

We said, we're going to do it.

Mitch Ashley:

We did sort of a modified DevOps sprint.

Mitch Ashley:

Here's all the stuff we're going to do in this sprint.

Mitch Ashley:

We'll do an ad a couple of weeks and we'll release it as a recovery.

Mitch Ashley:

We got to the point where we said this one thing, do we cut it over?

Mitch Ashley:

Cause that's a bigger thing to cut over and did involve, did we test enough?

Mitch Ashley:

Well, you know, no, cause I know we're not going to test everything

Mitch Ashley:

everybody's ever going to do on our site.

Mitch Ashley:

There is a lot more people will do.

Mitch Ashley:

We never expected someone to do.

Mitch Ashley:

Can we re can we react in.

Mitch Ashley:

Information to know when something's happening.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, at least in enough cases, we're comfortable that we can respond.

Mitch Ashley:

That's what I want to know.

Lee:

That's a much more important question.

Mitch Ashley:

If we feel good about that, then I feel good because if we,

Mitch Ashley:

if we're trying to achieve perfect software or, you know, bug free or

Mitch Ashley:

whatever, there's no more Sev ones, you know, whatever kind of language.

Mitch Ashley:

But it is a different way of thinking and I've had to change my thinking about it.

Mitch Ashley:

I'm like, yeah, I'll really code with a lot less testing than I used to.

Mitch Ashley:

Hopefully not to the detriment of any, of any of my users of my products.

Mitch Ashley:

Like the way.

Lee:

that's great.

Lee:

That's great.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

So, um, I want to give a plug to you if I, if I can.

Lee:

You're the CTO Techstrong.

Lee:

And you know what I know about Techstrong, you know, you've got 433,000 subscribers,

Lee:

I believe, according to your website, 13 million page views, a live video,

Lee:

stream video, conferences, et cetera.

Lee:

Tell me a little bit about what you think is the most important thing

Lee:

that Techstrong does and what you'd like to tell people about Techstrong.

Mitch Ashley:

Well, so Techstrong group is a combination of

Mitch Ashley:

some media learning events.

Mitch Ashley:

Its for an audience of people who are in software and cloud and security,

Mitch Ashley:

some at the very senior level, a lot at a practitioner, both vendor and non.

Mitch Ashley:

And, you know, when you fill out the thing that says, what is your

Mitch Ashley:

work industry is your company.

Mitch Ashley:

And we would fall into a media company.

Mitch Ashley:

I think what, what I view it.

Mitch Ashley:

And when I coach all of our folks of what we're doing is we're

Mitch Ashley:

helping people advance in their.

Mitch Ashley:

People come to fertility event in person event to a webinar, to an

Mitch Ashley:

article, to a video show on women in technology, or, um, CSO talk for

Mitch Ashley:

security people, whatever it might be, um, because they want to not only.

Mitch Ashley:

The learning, they want to be informed and they want to hear from other people.

Mitch Ashley:

They don't want to just read about it.

Mitch Ashley:

They do want to read about it.

Mitch Ashley:

They don't know what, just watch videos about it.

Mitch Ashley:

They do wanna watch videos, but they, they want to consume information.

Mitch Ashley:

Both.

Mitch Ashley:

But people themselves offered through themselves and people offered

Mitch Ashley:

through the medium of articles and videos and things like that.

Mitch Ashley:

So kind of a long answer, but really what we are.

Mitch Ashley:

People come to sites and events and shows like we have, uh, Staying,

Mitch Ashley:

up-to-date wanting to know what's so what is going on or what is test op?

Mitch Ashley:

I read that I read about that three, three years ago.

Mitch Ashley:

What's happening with it today.

Mitch Ashley:

What's happening with, uh, I heard it, the CIC D is the place

Mitch Ashley:

to start for, for Dunlops Y Y.

Mitch Ashley:

And tell me how that works and what I should do.

Mitch Ashley:

Um, or the role of a CSO has changed.

Mitch Ashley:

Right.

Mitch Ashley:

It's not just a technologist role there in the boardroom.

Mitch Ashley:

Must have to speak business language and understand.

Mitch Ashley:

And how do you implement a continuous.

Mitch Ashley:

Instant and response instead of a single incident and responding to

Mitch Ashley:

all these things that are happening while we're doing our jobs.

Mitch Ashley:

That's what Textron group is about, is creating a forum and

Mitch Ashley:

bringing in experts like yourself and practitioners, um, vendors.

Mitch Ashley:

Uh, people who can speak to that audience that needs to know we

Mitch Ashley:

both what I need to know now and maybe where things are heading.

Mitch Ashley:

So hopefully that helps explains that the websites are dev ops.com security

Mitch Ashley:

boulevard.com container journal.com.

Mitch Ashley:

Uh, the names are pretty obvious what they cover.

Mitch Ashley:

We have a site called digital CXO for senior level for, you know,

Mitch Ashley:

everybody's a digital executive, right.

Mitch Ashley:

That thought.

Mitch Ashley:

And then tech strong TV, which I mentioned earlier is our

Mitch Ashley:

kind of Netflix like platform.

Mitch Ashley:

That we host, uh, interviews.

Mitch Ashley:

We do a daily TV show, um, about two and a half to three, sometimes

Mitch Ashley:

four hours of interviews like this, you know, conversation,

Mitch Ashley:

sometime panel conversations.

Mitch Ashley:

We also go to events like CubeCon cloud native con Valencia.

Mitch Ashley:

We'll be in Detroit live streaming interviews with thought

Mitch Ashley:

leaders, practitioners there.

Mitch Ashley:

We, um, you know, we'll be at, uh, other vendor conferences.

Mitch Ashley:

We host vendor conferences, virtual, uh, and some in-person.

Mitch Ashley:

So it's, it's where it kind of people meet to talk about technology.

Lee:

I'll put it in my plug too.

Lee:

I've uh, I obviously have spent a lot of time on devops.com.

Lee:

Uh, um, haven't done as much with container journal, which

Lee:

I know is one of yours that I want to pay some attention to.

Lee:

And, uh, the virtual conferences are great.

Lee:

And, and you have a ton of it, just a ton of fantastic content.

Lee:

So want to thank you very much , Mitch, for coming on modern digital business.

Lee:

And this is Mitch Ashley, CTO of Techstrong, and thank you very much.

Mitch Ashley:

And I wish you all the best.

Mitch Ashley:

I'm honored to be here and to look forward to other great podcasts.