An amazing group of co-authors to tackle this topic
I have never learned as much during any project than researching and writing The DevOps Handbook. And so much of that learning was from my fellow coauthors.
I love the saying, “You’re only as smart as the top five people you hang out with.” Writing a book is like so many things in life, where the outcomes are a function of who our collaborators are. And it seems impossible for me to overstate how much I’ve learned from them.
And holy cow, what a bunch of amazing collaborators I’ve had on The DevOps Handbook journey! Many of you may already know who Jez Humble, Patrick Debois, and John Willis are… but even for those who are familiar with their work, I’m hoping that I’ll share something about them that may surprise you!
I first met Patrick Debois at the 2010 DevOpsDays in the U.S., which was held on the LinkedIn campus in Mountain View, California. Among his many claims to fame, Patrick hosted a “birds of a feather” session at a 2007 Agile conference, trying to find other people who were applying Agile principles to operations work. Although Andrew Shafer was the only person who showed up, that conversation led to Patrick creating an entire two-day conference in 2009 in Ghent, Belgium that they called “DevOpsDays.” By doing so, he coined the term devops that has since entered our vocabulary.
When I first met Patrick, it was so clear to me that he was not only brilliant, but also a boundary-spanner — although he came from a development background, he was equally comfortable talking about the goals and aspirations (as well as the trials and suffering) of operations, support, and even marketing. I’ve always believed that communities often reflect the cues of their leaders, and I think that’s why there is so much humility, curiosity, and candor in the DevOps community. So much of that comes straight from Patrick, all the way from the beginning.
John Willis was also present at that first famous 2009 DevOpsDays in Ghent, getting himself invited after he heard Andrew Shafer talk about it on a Redmonk podcast with Israel Gat and Michael Cote. Previously, John had spent decades in operations and configuration management, having served as the VP of Services for Chef.
I got my first chance to collaborate with John Willis as I was finishing up The Phoenix Project — he reviewed many of draft manuscripts, and after reading each one, he would send me back pages and pages of scholarly critiques and comments, many with extensive citations. Like me, John self-identifies most as an Ops person, but he is equally at home discussing development practices and philosophy such as Agile, continuous integration and delivery. His startup was recently acquired by Docker, and he’s been on the programming committee of the DevOps Enterprise Summit from the very beginning.
Jez Humble co-authored the famous book Continuous Delivery, which described how to extend the development concepts of continuous build, test, and integration into the the world of operations, in the form of continuous delivery and deployment. He later co-authored the book Lean Enterprise that widened the field of view to the “fuzzy front end” of product and portfolio management, as well as how to improve operational and customer outcomes.
Like John and Patrick, Jez also provided fantastic feedback for The Phoenix Project. But I got to collaborate with him on the 2013 State of DevOps Report that we did with Puppet Labs, where we surveyed over 4,000 practitioners, giving us our first glimpse at how high-performing organizations using DevOp principles and practices were massively outperforming their peers. We just finished our fourth year of that continuing collaboration (having added Dr. Nicole Forsgren to the team two years ago), and that data set now encompasses over 26,000 respondents, making it the largest ongoing study of its kind.
Wow, it’s really tough trying to condense these three amazing people into two paragraphs (which was supposed to be only one paragraph!).
To give you an even better glimpse into these three amazing people, I’ve written a blog post with a “highlights reel,” showing off my favorite videos of them, as well as some of their writings that hold special meaning to me.
This post just barely scratches the surface of what makes these three people the perfect cohort for writing The DevOps Handbook.