— This is Part 6 of Load Impact’s Velocity NY Preview Series. Load Impact is chatting with some of the cutting-edge developers and executives who will be speaking at Velocity NY Oct. 12-14.
— This is Part 3 of Load Impact’s Velocity NY Preview Series. Load Impact is chatting with some of the cutting-edge developers and executives who will be speaking at Velocity NY Oct. 12-14.
“It was impossible to get regular work done because we were running around putting out fires all day.”
Does that sound familiar?
When it comes to your website, app, API, SaaS product or infrastructure, a minor problem can turn into a major crisis very quickly, and that can hurt your reputation with customers and cost you time and money.
That’s why Blackrock 3 Partners, a team made up of firefighters and technology professionals, are coming to Velocity NY to teach you the finer points of incident management.
In their tutorial, Incident Management for DevOps, Rob Schnepp, Ron Vidal and Chris Hawley will demonstrate the parallels between putting out a five-alarm fire in an apartment building and responding to a data breach.
“There’s a lot of interest in how the fire service does business because we look organized and it works,” said Schnepp. “But there’s a mystique about it because not everyone understands how organized and structured it really is.”
Blackrock 3 uses terms like “Peacetime vs. Wartime” communication and operations, “war games in production” and other phrases traditionally used by the military.
That’s not because a crashed server is equivalent to a person being seriously injured in battle, but it’s because handling adverse conditions is a skill that can be learned, practiced and fine-tuned.
The team at Blackrock 3 stresses that software companies can create an ecosystem to respond to emergencies, minimize impact and learn from those experiences. That includes setting strategies for immediate response, practicing how to start correcting problems in the middle of the crisis and designating an “incident commander.”
In order to do that, Blackrock 3 often goes to their “war games in production” strategy with their clients, which can be surprising to some.
“There are times where we go in to work with a company and plan to break stuff on purpose,” said Vidal. “Sometimes people are taken back by that at first, but how else can you prepare for the randomness of the world unless you really have to solve a problem under some level of pressure?”
After an incident has been controlled and resolved, Blackrock 3 puts a heavy focus on thorough after action reviews — commonly known by many as “post mortems.” Emergency services even have a structured plan for post mortems, too, which is another practice Blackrock 3 is bringing to its partners.
“Post mortems almost always focus on the technology aspect of a problem,” said Schnepp. “They rarely evaluate the human response and how to make that better.”
Blackrock 3 suggests striving for honest, blame-free after action reviews that analyze people’s thought process and logic during a crisis and how future training can improve responses moving forward.
While people normally wouldn’t think the fire department or other emergency services has much in common with technology companies on the surface, Schnepp and Vidal said startup founders, CTOs and everyone they’ve worked with “gets it” from the beginning.
“The same management tactics people use on oil spills can work in the tech business,” said Schnepp. “It’s not a magical formula, but the results are magical.”
Check out Blackrock 3’s Book
The team’s vast experience responding to a wide range of catastrophic events not only led them to forming Blackrock 3, but they recently authored the book, Incident Management for Operations, published by O’Reilly Media.
(Photo Courtesy of O'Reilly Conferences Flickr)
We love what we do, and there’s nothing better than engaging a conference with hundreds of like-minded people.
Velocity 2015, in beautiful Santa Clara, Calif., served as another reminder that not only are we in the right business, but we’re in a competitive space surrounded by brilliant professionals who genuinely care about making the Internet a better place for everyone.
After a weekend to think about all the great stuff we saw, here are a few highlights.
Securing Organizations through Bad Behavior
Speaker: Laura Bell, CEO of SafeStack
Overview: This talk challenged the audience to think like a hacker with bad intentions. What better way to secure your organization than to think about what you would want to steal — whether that’s money, information, etc.
We highly recommend you watch this presentation because not only is it incredibly thoughtful and informative, but we think you’ll really enjoy Laura’s style and delivery.
Putting Web Performance Best Practices Together
Speaker: Chris Love of Love2Dev
Overview: In this 90-minutes session, Chris covered the best practices in web performance optimization for single-page applications, which included info from his appropriately named book.
The presentation held the attention of a packed ballroom that seated at least 300 people, and even included a large group of standing-room only spectators.
Chris also provided one of Velocity’s most impactful visual highlights — a slide claiming "the web is obese" with some interesting statistics on the average website. Although, there might be something else in the picture that grabbed people’s attention.
DevOps Kung Fu for Everyone
Speaker: Adam Jacob, CTO of Chef
Overview: While Chef was at the forefront of the DevOps movement, Adam’s presentation was about how the methodology doesn’t really “belong” to anyone in particular. In fact, plenty of companies are now moving to DevOps, and it’s fair to say no two processes look the same.
Here’s Adam giving this presentation at ChefCon earlier this year. The information is great, and it’s definitely worth watching for a well-placed Dave Chappelle/Wu Tang Clan reference in the middle.
Speaker: Vanessa Meyer, Marketing Director at Load Impact
Overview: And last, but certainly not least, Load Impact’s Vanessa Meyer owned the main stage and talked about using APIs as a marketing tactic.
Vanessa taught attendees how in some cases an API is a company’s core product, and in other cases a company’s API can be used as an effective growth hacking tool.
Check out the presentation below, and feel free to leave comments if you want to chat about it.