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Is Your Team Instrument Rated (Or: Deploying 89,000 Times a Day)

May 2014 Presentation
J. Paul Reed (Release Engineering Approaches)

Presentation at SATURN 2014. This talk examines a large operational system—the airspace system—as an analogy to implementing a DevOps culture in the software industry.


Software Engineering Institute


As DevOps matures from craft, through trade, to a science, we are starting to work on distilling out how we can make DevOps' implementation and the organizational transformation repeatable and predictable, across all kinds of environments. As part of that search, it is time to start looking at humanity's other "operational" endeavors and see what is applicable to DevOps. This talk examines one of the largest operational systems built to date: the national airspace system. We will look at specific aspects of how controllers (operations teams) work with pilots (developers) to safely move millions of passengers (customers) every year, with an incident rate that would make any development shop jealous. In aviation, harsher, more crowded, and inclement conditions all require additional training: an instrument rating. Similarly, developers and operations teams buying in to "DevOps culture" is a great start, but it's often hard to nail down what that actually means. We'll examine the specific behavioral and operational elements of this other complex system that has been tamed and look at what's applicable to implementing a DevOps culture within our own industry. Finally, we'll examine some of aviation's hard-learned lessons and look at ways we can leverage this knowledge and avoid those classes of pitfalls.