The run book (or system operation manual) is traditionally written by the IT operations (Ops) team after software development is considered complete. However, this typically leads to operability problems being discovered with the software, operational concerns having been ignored, forgotten, or not fully addressed by the development (Dev) team. If the software development team writes a draft run book or draft operation manual, many of the operational problems typically found during pre-live system readiness testing can be caught and corrected much earlier. Because the development team needs to collaborate with the operations team in order to define and complete the various draft run book details, the operations team also gains early insight into the new software. Channels of communication, trust, and collaboration are established between the traditionally siloed Dev and Ops teams, which can help to establish and strengthen a DevOps approach to building and running software systems.
Do not carve the run book in stone; focus instead on the collaboration needed to write the draft.
I will be talking about run book collaboration at DevOps Summit in Amsterdam on 15 November 2013.
The book Patterns for Performance and Operability by Ford et al is one of the few publications which addresses directly the operability of business software (which is partly why I am writing Software Operability: A Guide for Software Teams). Patterns for Performance and Operability (‘PPO’) is an excellent volume, containing many valuable insights into the ways we can improve the operability of software systems; this blog post explores a few of the key themes and ideas found in the book.
Using the term ‘non-functional requirements’ to describe aspects of software systems which are invisible to the end-user but essential for effective service operation is counter-productive; we should instead use ‘operational requirements’ or ‘operational features’, and schedule these for delivery alongside end-user features.
Update: the Experience DevOps workshop series now has sessions on Software Operability – find out more at http://experiencedevops.org/