The much abused term DevOps was the theme of the main presentation of the evening. Like Agile, DevOps seems to be an overloaded term appropriated to mean, variously, automation, system administration, build & deploy. Mathew, sporting a fantastic self made t-shirt emblazoned with the rallying cry "Death To The DevOps Team" proposed a more useful definition along the lines of "Highly effective, daily collaboration between software developers and IT operations people to produce relevant, working systems". He would also aspire to spread the collaboration net wider than just software developers to include QA/Testing, IT Service Desk, Programme Management, Commercial, Marketing. Tools were recognised as an an important facilitator (and sometime inhibitor) for collaboration. For example, Mathew proposed that the primary benefit of git was improved collaboration and, as such, all the artefacts of build and deployment should be made transparent using version control systems. Much of the presentation was taken up with descriptions of patterns and anti-patterns which emerge when organisation aim to achieve the hoped for benefits of the DevOps movement. From the "DevOps Team" anti-pattern of the title to the sublime "Smooth Collaboration" pattern via the "we don't need no ops team" anti-pattern dead end. There was also an interesting description of a variation of the ball point game popular with agile teams which had been adapted to show the effects of multiple teams on delivery of value.
The Principles of Product Development Flow by Donald Reinertsen. After a high level view of the main concepts of flow (variability, queues, utilisation, batch size, WIP, feedback and cross-functional synchronisation) Steve gave an entertaining run through of the things which Big Dumb Organisation's (BDO's) do to break the principles of flow which underpin agile practices. For example, making the product backlog a big queue (which is bad in flow) by committing to everything in the backlog. Steve's slides and transcript are available here and are well worth a read.
As always our thanks go to the helpers and sponsors without whom the evenings would not be possible. After meeting beers were kindly provided by Matthew Wood of ISourceIT. Thanks to all our volunteer team who make the event happen and finally thanks to other main sponsors Piksel, Callcredit and NewRedo and to our prize sponsors O'Reilly, JetBRAINS, Manning, Wrox and PluralSight.
The great photos are courtesy of @relentlessdev