Author: elvisboats

Short Version: I'm married to the amazing (and amazingly forgiving) Jennifer, proud possessor of two amazing kids, crazy about all things trouty with fly fishing. I'm an Application Development Manager with Microsoft, and am based out of Portland, Oregon. Long Version: I grew up in Oregon, and moved down to California with the original goal of finishing my education in Civil Engineering, but I found application development and RDBMS systems much more exciting! I do miss the mountain biking in California and the awesome Mexican food, but Oregon is my home and I have never regretted moving back to start a family. Plus it gives me more time for fly fishing for trout and steelhead on the beautiful Deschutes river in central Oregon! ;-) Working for Microsoft has by far been the best experience of my professional life; it's great working with a group of people that are passionate about writing good code and continually improving development practices and firepower. Past assignments have included Providence Health Plans, Kroger, and managing a .NET development team at Columbia Sportswear. Working at Columbia in particular gave me a great customer-side perspective on the advantages that Azure offers a fast-moving development team, the dos and don’ts of agile development/scrum, and the cool rich Ux experiences that SPAs (Single Page Applications) can offer with Breeze, OData, WebAPI, and modern Javascript libraries. Microsoft did a fantastic job of engaging with Columbia and understanding our background and needs; I witnessed their teams win over an initially hostile and change-averse culture. The end result was a very satisfying and mutually beneficial partnership that allowed Columbia to build dynamic applications and services using best-of-breed architecture. I’m a MCDBA and a Certified Scrum Master.

Monitoring What Matters – John-Daniel Trask of Raygun

I had a great talk recently with one of my favorite peeps – John-Daniel Trask, CEO of Raygun. We talk about the importance of monitoring and making that connection with the customer experience, and what he’s seen go right – and wrong – in working with companies large and small. We’re huge fans of Raygun and see this company’s growth as a natural byproduct of producing the right product that reinforces all the behaviors we want out of the DevOps movement. Enjoy!

I always enjoy talking with John-Daniel and he was a big factor in monitoring and metrics taking up so much room in my book. Here’s some of the topics we cover:

  • How to aggregate errors so you don’t feel like you’re putting out a tire fire with a water pistol
  • Best practices around real user monitoring, crash monitoring and APM
  • First things first; why crash reporting should be the first thing you port out
  • How John-Daniel is adjusting to life as a new father (welcome Henry!) and what it was like growing a global business as a young entrepreneur
  • How Google changed the game around how responsive and user-centric websites and services are
  • A fact we often forget: software is written ultimately for humans. “Software gives us the power to amplify human ability.”
  • Another great all-time quote, from his mentor: “It’s not the big that eats the small, it’s the fast that eats the slow.”

One last great quote to end on: “DevOps is about making engineering teams as reliably fast as possible.”


A link to the interview is here – and it’s on the podcast platform of your choice. AppleGoogleSpotify, blah blah…. We’re on all the major platforms now, including AnchorAppleGoogleSpotifyPocketCasts, and RadioPublic. Please support the podcast, and we’d love to hear your feedback about the book!

Enjoy the podcast!




LaunchDarkly and feature flags

Had a friend ask me for some videos around Feature Flags. There’s no shame in admitting that I’m a huge fan of feature flags; it seems like one of those no-brainers when it comes to making releases faster and safer. Without them, I’m not sure how close we can possibly get to true “continuous delivery” even for smaller sized projects.

As I think some of you might be interested as well – here’s some videos and web references below. I hope to expand on this with some more in-depth demos down the road. This is going to come across like I’m shilling for LaunchDarkly. (In all fairness, I’m not the only person at MSFT that loves them.)  But when it comes to FF I’m not sure if there’s another vendor in that space that offers what they do.

And some more references from my book:

  • [harris] – “Using feature flags in your app release management strategy”, Richard Harris. App Developer Magazine, 4/19/2018. 

Four questions around testing and Microsoft’s progress with DevOps

I was at a conference earlier this week and we got some outstanding questions about how Microsoft went about their transformation – especially with the Azure DevOps team. I want to build on this with a followup post going into more depth on our use of culture and automation – but here’s a good place to start with some great links.

Question #1 – How do we handle planning on a strategic level with the more tactical focus of Agile?


Question #2 – How did Microsoft go about their transformation to DevOps from a shared services model?


Question #3 – What about testing? (This is usually one of our biggest blockers to improve release reliability and velocity – an unreliable, flaky test layer)

Question #4 – Production Support. Let’s say we have an Agile team, 8-12 people. How the heck are we supposed to do global support across multiple regions, 24x7x365 in production?

  • Short answer – the only way this will work is if you 1) make sure you’re only supporting a small sliver of functionality, 2) that you gate the support demands upon your devs so it’s <50% of their time i.e. the SRE model. More than likely you’re going to have some operational support – even offshore or 3rd party – handled externally to the team. 3) alerts are tuned so that only truly important things make it through. I talk about this extensively in my book; the books “The Art of Monitoring” and “Practical Monitoring” also elaborate on this.



Betsy Beyer and Stephen Thorne

Just published a great podcast interview with Betsy Beyer and Stephen Thorne of Google, coauthors of the incredible “Site Reliability Engineering Workbook”. We cover a lot of ground in this interview, including how Google learns from failures, what toil is and how good organizations try to fight it, and when LESS reliability can be a good thing in software development.

Betsy and Stephen’s work around publicizing and breaking down the myths surrounding SRE have been huge boons to our industry. Their writing (along with a few other Googlers) had a big impact on the Achieving DevOps book; we find their work and thinking incredibly helpful and influential. You’ll love it too!

A link to the interview is here – and it’s on the podcast platform of your choice. AppleGoogleSpotify, blah blah…. We’re on all the major platforms now, including AnchorAppleGoogleSpotifyPocketCasts, and RadioPublic. Please support the podcast, and we’d love to hear your feedback about the book!

Enjoy the podcast!

Some link goodness:

Gary Gruver of Gruver Consulting

So thrilled to have Gary as a guest on the Achieving DevOps podcast!

Gary Gruver is one of my personal DevOps heroes and is very well known for his landmark books. Unlike some of the writing I see out there, his writing reveals a solid background in the manufacturing field. He brings a process-driven engineer’s perspective that is always enjoyable and enlightening! He’s worked with HP, Macys, and a host of other enterprises in helping them achieve a stable quality signal and improve their delivery pipelines.

His current passion is helping as many people as possible achieve similar results through consulting, webinars, presentations, and books. Gary’s consulting approach is unique in that he stays engaged with organizations during their journeys to provide guidance when they hit specific challenges and to learn about what is and isn’t working during as many different transformations as possible. This experience enables him to help clients avoid common mistakes and share approaches that have been proven to deliver business results for a variety of companies. He is the author of “Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise” – a book that had a huge influence on my thinking – and co-author of “Leading the Transformation: Applying Agile and DevOps Principles at Scale” and “A Practical Approach to Large-Scale Agile Development: How HP Transformed LaserJet FutureSmart Firmware”.

Check out Gary’s books on his site below – I know of no one else in our industry that brings what he does to the table when it comes to optimizing flow and eliminating waste and repetitive work. A link to the interview is here – and it’s on the podcast platform of your choice. AppleGoogleSpotify, blah blah…. We’re on all the major platforms now, including AnchorAppleGoogleSpotifyPocketCasts, and RadioPublic.

Enjoy the podcast!



Links to enjoy: