After a long 2.5 years Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford, the authors of the awesome Visible Ops series, have just launched their latest book, The Phoenix Project. I was fortunate enough to get to read some early drafts, so I am extra excited that it is finally shipping. When Gene first mentioned the book to me, I was rather surprised that it was a novel. I was a bit skeptical of the choice of genre but dove in anyway, and I am so glad I did.
The format allowed Gene et. al. to show multiple viewpoints of the problems being addressed in a fun, readable format. The book, follows the adventures of Bill, as he gets promoted to run an IT Operations team and a dysfunctional company, who then immediately gets saddled with a project that is behind schedule, over budget, untested and under built to say the least. Sound familiar? We’ve all been one (or more!) of the characters at some point in our careers and it is easy to sympathize with Bill and most of the rest of the cast.
As I mentioned above, one of the compelling characteristics of the book is that you get multiple characters’ viewpoints of what’s going on and what the issues are leading to the company being so broken. You get the perspective of the needs and desires of the rest of the business, be it the C-suite, infosec, legal or the product team. Additionally, the Phoenix Project gives Bill and his team the understanding and sympathy for these needs so they can do a better job.
The book is not just about IT doing things faster or for less money, but it’s about what the business needs and how IT can do what needs doing much more effectively. It’s not enough to optimize, you have to optimize the right things at the right time. This is the real lesson of The Phoenix Project: how to correctly identify what needs addressing and then address it with the correct tools and technologies. These tools may not be computer-based at all, but may well just be pen and paper!
I cannot recommend this book enough. Not only is it very enjoyable read, but the lessons about the value of devops and embracing change are presented in an accessible format that doesn’t require being deeply technical to understand. Not only should you read it yourself, but if you are promoting devops or even just trying to improve operations or security within your organization, you should share copies with the rest of your team and with your executives.
David Mortman is the Chief Security Architect, enStratus/Contributing Analyst, Securosis.