Things I (Don’t) Like About Continuous Delivery – LondonCD meetup June 2017

This is part 4 of a 4-part series of articles based on discussions at the LondonCD meetup group on 12 June 2017. The other posts are linked at the end of this article.

Our 4th Open Space discussion challenged people to identify the things that they don’t like about the Continuous Delivery book: things that don’t work in practice, things that are plain wrong, etc. – a slightly cheeky session!

tl;dr: Jez Humble and Dave Farley – authors of Continuous Delivery – did not get anything wrong in their book but they “did not say enough” about the culture/people aspect of Continuous Delivery. People and culture are tricky – who knew?! 🙂

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The transformational power of Continuous Delivery

I was recently asked to answer some questions about Continuous Delivery for someone’s undergraduate university research. The questions were interesting, so here are my answers 🙂

  1. What do you feel are the benefits of adopting Continuous Delivery?
  2. How do you feel adopting Continuous Delivery has affected your development cycle?
  3. Do you think Continuous Delivery is an important approach for a company to pick up, If so Why?
  4. How do you think Agile compares to more traditional models like Waterfall?
  5. What is the biggest change you’ve noticed since adopting Agile?
  6. What do you foresee in the future for these models in the industry?

1. What do you feel are the benefits of adopting Continuous Delivery?

The benefits of Continuous Delivery are huge:

  • Greater focus on finishing and shipping.
  • Increased awareness of need for setting up the work to enable feedback and learning.
  • Sense of ‘flow’ within teams.
  • Decisions made using actual data rather than opinions alone.
  • Higher quality software.
  • More joy in work.

(Can I stop yet?)

2. How do you feel adopting Continuous Delivery has affected your development cycle?

(Answering on behalf of our clients) Continuous Delivery has helped us to increase the ownership over software and focus on the value-add things that our organisation produces, rather than ceremonies around testing and releasing.

3. Do you think Continuous Delivery is an important approach for a company to pick up, If so Why?

Yes: adopting CD properly can be truly transformative for the organisation as a whole. IT becomes a means to receive rapid feedback on product/marketing/service offerings, allowing the business to invest more wisely and do more with less risk and lower costs.

4. How do you think Agile compares to more traditional models like Waterfall?

Agile is woefully misunderstood (as was Waterfall) so in that regard, they are similar (!). Truly agile organisations are rare because agility challenges entrenched, comfortable positions within an organisation. Agile done well really makes the nature of an organisation transparent.

5. What is the biggest change you’ve noticed since adopting Agile?

(Answering for our clients) We’re able to improve the software delivery part of the process, but this has highlighted the lack of clarity and vision in the Business.

6. What do you foresee in the future for these models in the industry?

We’re starting to see a backlash against Agile and DevOps already, because people misunderstand or misrepresent what’s going on. Things like SAFe seem to be rebranded PRINCE2 which is a shame. Essentially, many organisations are going to fail because their management does not see the need to change.

At Skelton Thatcher Consulting we have put together a handy Continuous Delivery checklist template (on Trello) to help you assess the things you need to address within your organisation:



How and why to run internal tech conferences – InfoQ article

In an environment of rapidly-changing technology and approaches, an internal tech conference can be a powerful and effective way of spreading new ideas and practices and sharing learning & experience. Having organised and run several internal tech conferences (at different organisations), Victoria Morgan-Smith and I decided to write about our experiences in an article for InfoQ: Internal Tech Conferences – How and Why. We also interviewed several other people from various organisations who have also run internal tech conferences in order to give a broader perspective.

Our aim was to inspire and enable other people to develop and run internal tech conferences in their own organisations, building on the experiences of the teams and organisations in the article.

In this article we draw on our personal experience of running internal tech events at companies we’ve worked with, along with reflections and advice from people at Paddy Power Betfair, Callcredit Information Group, ING and others. You’ll find further reading & listening material at the end of the article – there is so much inspirational work happening in so many organisations.


Key points from the article are:

  • Software engineering today is as much about people as the technology itself: an internal tech conference can give a huge boost to your organisation’s social capital – that currency by which relationships flourish.
  • The format you choose for your internal tech conference depends on what you want to achieve from it: it can be “by the people for the people”, or a showcase to celebrate achievement. You can keep the audience or speakers to just a single department, or invite other divisions, or even invite external speakers and/or audience.
  • Making the event a success takes effort: choose your speakers well, and mentor themas they prepare their talks. Work on the logistics – it’s the little things that count.
  • Remember to have fun: ‘death by PowerPoint’ will mean people remember the event for the wrong reasons!
  • Follow through: for a lasting impact, keep sight of the outcomes you seek and be ready to work with others to keep the momentum going.

We hope that the article is useful for people thinking of running or improving their own internal tech conferences!

Thanks to everyone involved: people we interviewed, the amazing InfoQ team, and to my co-author Victoria Morgan-Smith.

New eBook on Continuous Delivery with Windows and .NET

Back in 2010 when Jez Humble and Dave Farley wrote their ground-breaking book Continuous Delivery, the Windows and .NET platforms lagged behind the Linux/Mac world in terms of automation capability. That is no longer the case – every core feature in Windows and .NET now has a PowerShell API and all the core tooling needed for Continuous Delivery – package management, artifact repositories, build servers, deployment pipelines tools, infrastructure automation, monitoring,and logging – are all now available natively on Windows/.NET.

Chris O’Dell (@ChrisAnnODell) and I decided we should explain how to make Continuous Delivery work with Windows and .NET, and thanks to the great editorial team at O’Reilly, we’ve published a short eBook:

CD with Windows - cover

The dedicated book website is at and O’Reilly have published the first chapter of the book online as an article: Introduction to Continuous Delivery with Windows. We’d love your feedback:

UPDATE: we’ll be at both PIPELINE Conference (March 23 2016) and WinOps Conference (May 24 2016) with printed copies of the book.

Note: we began writing the book in August 2015, and it’s astonishing (and exciting!) how much has changed in the 8 months since then, with Windows Nano, Azure and Windows support for Docker and containers, .NET Core, SQL Server on Linux, and even SSH for Windows. These and more recent developments do not feature in the book – perhaps we’ll do an updated version soon. 

Notes on ‘team responsibilities in cloud-native operations’ (Pete Mounce)

Summary:  Pete Mounce (@petemounce) from Just Eat gave a compelling talk at the London Continuous Delivery meetup group on ‘team responsibilities in cloud-native operations’. I found the talk hugely engaging, with loads of detail applicable to many organisations. Here are my notes from the meetup.

I captured my notes as slides:

Update: the video of Pete’s talk is here on Vimeo:

Pete Mounce video frame

There were several specific points made by Pete that were interesting for me:

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Continuous Delivery for databases: microservices, team structures, and Conway’s Law

The way we think about data and databases must adapt to fit with dynamic cloud infrastructure and Continuous Delivery. The need for rapid deployments and feedback from software changes combined with an increase in complexity of modern distributed systems and powerful new tooling are together driving significant changes to the way we design, build, and operate software systems. These changes require new ways of writing code, new team structures, and new ownership models for software systems, all of which in turn have implications for data and databases.

Read the full article on Simple Talk: Continuous Delivery for Databases: Microservices, Team Structures, and Conway’s Law.

(These slides were presented in a talk I gave at develop:BBC 2014 conference on 13th November in London)

Deployability for databases for Continuous Delivery – article on Simple Talk

I wrote an article recently for the Simple Talk website called Common database deployment blockers and Continuous Delivery headaches, where I outline some of the common problems preventing databases from being deployable – a major blocker to Continuous Delivery.

Deployability is now a first-class concern for databases, and there are several technical choices (conscious and accidental) which band together to block the deployability of databases. Can we improve database deployability and enable true Continuous Delivery for our software systems? Of course we can, but first we have to see the problems.

The recommendations include:

  1. Minimize changes in Production
  2. Reduce accidental complexity
  3. Archive, distinguish, and split data
  4. Name things transparently
  5. Source Business Intelligence from a data warehouse
  6. Value more highly the need for change
  7. Avoid Production-only tooling and config where possible [I mention this in my talk How to choose tools for DevOps and Continuous Delivery]

To address [these things] individually perhaps doesn’t seem too challenging, but to tackle deployability requires close, effective collaboration between developers, DBAs, and operations teams to achieve the right balance between rapid deployment and access to data.

Deployability for Databases

Read the full article here