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HomeDevelopmentDevOpsDog-eared books on my bookshelf  - The life of a DevOps practitioner

Dog-eared books on my bookshelf  – The life of a DevOps practitioner

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Living the DevOps dream is not easy, this little corner of the world we occupy in IT is very fast-paced, and the only constant in our lives is that change is constant.  What is new in Azure, AWS, GCP, and VMware, and how do we integrate those changes into our infrastructure, new developments in coding practices, and new ways to do the same things more quickly.  New versions of our favourite toolings, the question is just how do we keep up?  Reading books, articles, whitepapers, and blog posts, they are all useful in building your knowledge base

Favourite books

I read voraciously; I often have two or three books on the go at once.  One technical, one business focused and one for light entertainment.  These are just a snapshot of my library, both physical and sat on my Kindle; however, these are the books that I regularly have my nose in.

Technical books

Terraform Up & Running
Terraform Up and Running Yevgeniy Brikman wrote this book, and it was the first Terraform book I ever bought (1st Edition) and has just been fully updated.  The book, now on its 3rd edition, has a heavy AWS bias, but the information contained in the book is worth its weight in gold.  It is an absolute necessity for those first baby steps into IaC on AWS, but even as a seasoned professional, it is still within easy reach on my bookshelf.

And yes, I have just upgraded to the 3rd edition 😊

 

 

Terraform Cookbook
Terraform Cookbook This is the second Terraform book in the list, written by Mikael Krief, and just like the first book on this list it is my go to book.  The Cookbook is focused on Azure rather and AWS and this is what makes it so valuable to those starting to terraform out Azure.  The vast majority of literature around Terraform is focused on AWS and this is one of the rarities.  It is both Azure focused and very useful.  My version is very dogeared, and covered with notes

The above two books are in my mind two of the best books to give you a grounding in Terraform.  They don’t just take you on a coding journey, they explain in a clear way the “why” and When you would use a feature.  For example  Why would you use variables, how to you add validation to a variable to confirm the input is valid, and how to create dynamic variable and what are they.  The different use-cases for when to Count or ForEach.

Running Hashicorp Vault
Running Hashicorp Vault in Production This book focused on another Hashicorp technology,  this is Vault. For the uninitiated Vault is HashiCorp’s core security product.

Vault has very quickly risen to prominence and become a major player in secrets management over recent years, finding its way into many Global 2000 companies. This book covers planning the scope of the service, architectural design, and its subsequent and finally to understanding how to manage the service once it is up and running.

But that is not all this book gives you the authors take you through the design decisions in a clear and easily understandable manner; explaining not only the how to do something but the why and when.

 

Essential Infrastructure as Code Patterns and Practices
Infrastructure As Code This book is focused  IaC as a concept and is great for teaching the principles and the patterns for scaling systems and supporting infrastructure for mission-critical applications.  It is chock-a-block full of flexible automation techniques based on Terraform and Python that are easy to apply.

It focuses on often missed concepts like how to manage system changes, the issues surrounding code re-factoring and testing.

I use this book when defining new projects to make sure that I actually consider issues on a macro level rather then getting laser focused on the details.

 

The four books mentioned here are but a small subsection of my technical library which cover technologies like VMware vSphere, Cisco, Software Defined networking, Azure, AWS and End User computing; that said these are my current goto tomes.

Business Books

If you are a technologist,  the concept of reading business focused books on how to see work, and how to manage a team may seem to be a waste of time.  However, these are necessary to gain in site into your customer – the business or your clients.  We in IT often forget that we do not work in isolation, we are a small but very important cog in what is known as the business.  The following books will give you a very broad understanding of how as a DevOps practitioner your or your teams unique cog fits into the machine.

The Phoenix Project
The Phoenix Project The Phoenix Project is the seminal work on DevOps, written as a novella. It tracks the journey of a mid-west manufacturing company as they attempt to stop the rot of ever increasing IT costs, coupled with a very bad economic outlook for the company.

The book focuses on the DevOps journey, explaining they academic background of the paradigm.  Explaining why is works, and gives very good guidance on how to implement DevOps in your Environment. Explaining is a simple and entertaining manner the book tracks the journey of Bill Palmer the newly promoted VP of IT Operations and his teams efforts to deliver an make or break piece of software that will turn the tide of the company back to the good time.

It sounds boring but it is not.  The knowledge contained in this book just seeps into you.  It really was my light bulb moment for DevOps and I was one of the books original reviewers.

 

The Unicorn Project
The Unicorn Project The Unicorn Project revisits Parts Unlimited but whereas the Phoenix project focused on the trials and tribulations of the Operations team, this focuses on Chris Allers the VP Development and his road to nirvana.  This is a must read companion to the Phoenix Project; especially if you are an Operational practioner.  It gives a very good insight into the life of the Developer and their methodologies.  This is critical when starting out our your DevOps journey as  it is important to remember that DevOps is exactly that Dev and Ops working together.

I consider the Phoenix Project and the Unicorn Project as required reading for all my team members, and have recommended the books to my upwards management team too.

 

Investments Unlimited
Investments Unlimited You have just read my words about the Phoenix Project and the Unicorn project, Investments Unlimited is the latest novella from the IT Revolution team,  this time the focus in on a DevSecOps journey from a Born in the Cloud FinTech bank, and how they managed to escape the problems of adverse SEC findings (for those who are not familiar with the SEC it is the American financial regulator)

This book as just been released and it has opened my mind to the land of Governance, compliance and Audit

 

The DevOps Handbook
The DevOps Handbook Yes this is another IT Revolution book.  This book is more of a practitioner’s handbook.  Defining and explaining concepts like Lean, Agile, DevOps, the Three Ways. it offers practical advice coupled with explanations of the academic theory behind the concepts.

Why should you reduce batch size in work. Why should and how should you protect your constraints.

 

Making Work Visible
Making Work Visible I bought this book as a result of reading the DevOps handbook and the Phoenix and Unicorn projects.  It explains the theory behind work and the various type of work and how they affect workflow and technical debt.

As I find myself dragged up the corporate ladder kicking and screaming I am finding that my work based reading is more and more focused on Business tomes and management theory.

That said even if you are just starting out on your work journey reading these books can and do give you an advantage.  Even if it is only understanding how your managers think.

 

A Radical Enterprise
A Radical Enterprise High preforming teams require a different form of management from under preforming teams, but how do you turn a under preforming team into a high preforming team.

This book introduces some interesting concepts like loosening control, where employees self manage their own workloads; thereby giving them an investment in their career and time.  Flexible working options etc.

Even if you are not in a team lead or management role this is a very interesting read, even if it does just highlight the inadequacies of your own employer.  You could perhaps leave a copy on your CEO’s Desk 😉

 

The Goal
The Goal The final book in my list is a seminal piece.  I was debating whether to include this book as it is heavily academic is focus.  It explains the science behind the theory of continual improvement a core tenet of DevOps.

It is a hard read, I am not going to lie but the knowledge contained within will have you returning to it over and over again.  I have and continue to gain new knowledge from this book as my experience increases.

 

Downtime books

Remember, downtime is your time.  It is crucial to wind down, if only for your mental health.  You are not a machine; you need time to forget about your work.  Some people will listen to music, and some watch a tv series; for myself, reading is my relaxation and escape.  How you relax; this I leave to you, the reader; my personal choice is reading fantasy, science fiction and science fantasy books.  As such, it tends to include books by authors like Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Karen Miller, obviously JRR Tolkien, Frank Herbert,  etc.

Bookmarked websites

Back in the dark ages, finding suitable sites for information was a bit of a lottery.  It Was only with the use of advanced google-fu skills, and if you were lucky to pick the correct incantations, coupled with the relevant potion and wand gestures, you found what you were looking for.  But, unfortunately, the vast majority of times, you would end up going down a rabbit hole.

Today I rely on Medium for the vast amount of my Blog/technical article input.  Now, this is a little bit of a cliché, but for less than the price of a cup of coffee from your favourite Barista a subscription to Medium is a godsend, at $5 USD a month, it opens up a vast amount of excellent articles about your favourite toolsets and access to other educational stuff too.  One of the best things l like about Medium is that you can subscribe to tags like “Infrastructure as Code,” “Terraform,” “AWS” etc and you will have a feed that is curated around the chosen Tag.

Medium Tags

You can even have a daily digest of articles emailed directly to you.

That however is not the end of my go-to websites.  Stack overflow and Reddit are invaluable both environments are configurable to allow you to join communities that are focused on what you are actually interested in for example the DevOps community linked above in the Reddit link.  Other go-to sites will contain the documentation pages contained on your vendors of choice’s site.  Vendor sites are a good starting point and once you have found the necessary function or resource, you can laser focus your google search to find a blog article that actually tells you how to use it rather than a generic example that is of no real-world use.  Yes, I am looking at you HashiCorp 😉

Summary

I hope that this has been useful to you, as I have already mentioned this is a small subset of my library, both physical and in ebook format on my kindle.  Working in IT is an exercise in continual learning, and when you are working in a developing field this is an even truer statement.  DevOps is continually changing,  with new concepts being added to the fold daily,  DevSecOps, AIOps, MLOps, NetOps etc.  code is eating the world and even though you can build a very good career knowing just Terraform and Ansible,  branching out and learning about business processes, and other languages like GoLang, NodeJS, Python etc will be invaluable in your growth.  Happy Learning.

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