All Hands on DevOps #6

ecs-admin 6th February 2017

Last Thursday, we hosted our first All Hands on DevOps meetup of 2017 (our 6th so far!). It was great to see the successful turnouts of last year continue, with another fantastic group of attendees.

As it’s best to always start the year as you mean to go on, we aimed high (literally) with our kick-off venue – the impressive Puppet offices, located on the 13th floor of Aldgate tower.

Upon arrival at the office, we were greeted not only by our partner colleagues from Puppet, but also, by a welcome selection of drinks for the evening.

On to the real business of the meetup: We began with two engaging speakers from Elsevier, Iain Gray and James Rasell, discussing ‘Taming the chaos through Automation’, and finished with a Q&A session on the 2016 State of Devops report with Russ Parsloe and John Boero from Puppet.

For those who were unable to join us, and those who may want a refresher, below is quick summary of what was covered in the evening.


Taming the chaos though Automation:

This began with Iain Gray, Cloud hosting infrastructure and operations manager for Elsevier, giving a short intro on the challenges they, as a company, face with having 40 independent development teams, each with 2-3 AWS accounts, and each account with between 1 and 6 VPC’s.

In summary, they have 90 AWS accounts and 300 VPCS, all managed by a single person – our other speaker for the evening – James Rasell… something Iain hinted James deserved a pay rise for!

Their goal behind this way of working was to reduce the barrier of entry, have various development teams owning their infrastructure, and simply having infrastructure governed through technology. The approach, governed by a DevOps philosophy, places ops engineers within development teams and has them take responsibility for operational maturity and usage of platforms. They can then provide a consultation service to the users of their tools and give regular advice on best practice methods.They ended up with about a team of 20 people for ops.


Why Terraform?

James then picked up where Iain left off and described how they had initially gone through a proof of concept phase and rejected AWS CloudFormation for a number of reasons, but mainly as it did not meet their cloud provider agnostic requirement. They decided upon Terraform, which is a cloud provider agnostic, and also allowed them to store their code in version control and have a low barrier to entry.

Their highly modular design approach focused on creating core modules and having them tested by teams. By using semantic visioning and maturity ratings, each module was responsible for building all the necessary functions it needed to run itself. The modules would then have full README’s and change logs. Using DRY principles, (a software development principle, aimed at reducing repetition of information of all kinds) to achieve their modular approach, and using Jenkins Terraform plugin.



The evening then concluded with a Q&A session on the 2016 State of Devops, led by Russ Parsloe, Technical Solutions Engineer, and John Boero, Senior Technical Solutions Engineer from Puppet.

And while we can’t cover every question raised, one of the most interesting points was on the number of DevOps teams increasing from 19% in 2015 to 22% in 2016, something that is covered in greater detail in Puppet’s 2016 State of DevOps report.


As you can see, the evening covered some really insightful and engaging topics. And as such, we’d encourage you to book your place at our next Meetup before seats fill up!

Our next All Hands on DevOps Meetup will take place on Wednesday 15th March. Register here.


In the meantime, we’d like to offer you the opportunity to win one of a wide selection of prizes including $500 gift cards, an iPad Pro, a ticket to DevOps Enterprise Summits in London & San Fransisco, a Phillips Hue starter kit and more.

For a chance to win, and to view the full list of prizes on offer, simply complete the Puppet ‘2017 State of DevOps report’ survey before the 10th of February 2017.

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