Nathen Harvey, Chief Awesome Officer at Chef, wrote the book about professional hugging and has had numerous interesting and funny forays into internet advertising for his ideas. If you don't believe me, you need only watch his promotion of HugOps. So when Vibrato found out that he would be in Australia, we snapped up the opportunity to have him come and have a chat with our employees, clients and partners.
Nathen runs the Chef community globally and his energy has riled up more than one ChefConf crowd, but in our small room, the enthusiasm was palpable. Vibrato got some exclusive time to discuss issues affecting Vibrato and Chef clients alike, primarily culture and process related, but also around Chef's new tools.
Inspec allows you to deploy security and compliance as code. The marketing message is that Inspec allows you to fix issues early, write code quickly and run code anywhere. With it, you can inspect machines, APIs, data and cloud platforms. Vibrato has been using it to assist in detecting issues up front and then continue doing that in a pipeline with one of our clients. Chef's clients love it as well, Alaska Air one of Chef's most vocal advocates have called themselves a "software company with wings" to demonstrate their commitment to Chef products.
Habitat eases the burden of managing microservice apps and brings the benefits of being architected for microservices to traditional applications. Basically, it is an application automation tool that integrates with Inspec and Chef to increase consistency, portability and self-management within applications. Habitat is currently being trialled by Rakuten in Japan and Vibrato is really interested in how Habitat can help with cloud migrations to AWS or Azure.
If anyone is interested, get in contact with Chef as the Habitat team will fly over and demonstrate getting these services working in production for you.
People and Culture
Nathen discussed creating a community of practice vs. a centre of excellence. Almost everyone is aware that Chef is fully and completely an opensource product. This means that they want to encourage as many users to get trained and contributing towards the code and community as quickly possible, compared to having a few excellent isolated individuals. A community of practice also tend to self-govern in comparison to a governing body imposing standards. The effect that the IT community's involvement with Chef has had on the culture of the industry and the turn towards opensource, publically derived and publically available software is transformative, to say the least. But that's only one aspect of DevOps culture.
We also discussed with Nathen the importance of aligning engineering teams to the business objectives and how to achieve this. One idea was short, sharp programs that help show value over long-winded projects that change over time. This is fundamental to the agile methodology of project delivery but is often not done particularly well in practice. This can come back to the individuality of teams and the need for specialised training and education for different teams and individuals.
The takeaways from this afternoon were that DevOps is not just a methodology, it's also about people and culture, and without the right people and processes, all the technology in the world won't save you. Overall, this session was fun, interesting and engaging and I would highly recommend anyone who has an opportunity to talk with Nathen, or see him speak publicly, to grab that offer with both hands. Just watch out, he might grab you back (as part of HugOps of course).