DevOps Reading List: Top 30 Best DevOps Books You Should Read in 2018

The #1 book on their list is "Architecting for Scale" book by Lee Atchison. As the article says:

"The first one on our DevOps reading list is Architecting for Scale. It is an excellent book to understand real-world paradigms for scaling and managing critical applications. This book covers 5 different elements: availability, risk management, services and microservices, scaling applications and cloud services. This book can be called a practical guide as well, it shows how to prevent an application from becoming slow, inconsistent, or downright unavailable as it grows. Also, in this book the word “Scaling” is explained very well as it is not just about handling more users; it’s also about managing risk and ensuring availability."

See the full list of books here.

Multi-Tenant Cloud vs. Single-Tenant Cloud: An Important Choice

Whenever we discuss cloud adoption with enterprise companies curious about making the move, one of the first questions is, which is better: public cloud or private cloud? Cloud adopters want to know which approach is most likely to give them better performance, greater flexibility, stronger security, and lowest cost to operate.

While these are important requirements, they miss a critical issue: So you want to share your cloud with others? If you’re working towards an effective cloud adoption strategy, you’d be wise to consider whether you want a multi-tenant or single-tenant cloud offering.

Public vs. Private Cloud: Nothing New to See Here

Plenty has been written about the differences between public and private cloud, so no need to rehash it here. Some of the most popular public cloud offerings are provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS)IBM CloudMicrosoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). These providers host, in their own data centers, the necessary computing resources that allow you to fire up servers, databases, and other resources to run your applications and websites in the “cloud.” In a public cloud, the provider hosts these resources on an infrastructure shared with other cloud consumers.

Private clouds, on the other hand, are hosted by consumers on-premise, or in data centers owned by third-parties that offer private cloud hosting, such as IBM Cloud Private. Private clouds give the consumer much more control over their infrastructure by providing cloud resources in a personal environment unique to that specific consumer.

Multi-Tenant vs. Single-Tenant Cloud: Something to Think About

In our conversations with cloud adopters, it’s not that uncommon to hear people say they don’t fully trust the security of public clouds, or that they much prefer the control available with private cloud offerings. But just as important as trust or control is rationalizing whether you can afford to share your cloud with another consumer.

Almost all public cloud offerings are multi-tenant, meaning that your websites or applications are hosted right alongside those of other consumers — on the very same servers. In such cases, it’s critical to understand how the provider ensures security and performance, and how you can best manage data latency, throughput, and storage.

If you host your own private cloud, or use a third-party private cloud offering, it’s almost definitely a single-tenant instance, meaning you’re the only consumer with access to it, and the aforementioned concerns of security, performance, and data management are mostly yours to plan and control.

Given the recent security concerns raised by the Meltdown vulnerability, you may worry about sharing a public cloud server, but cloud providers work tirelessly to patch such vulnerabilities as quickly as possible. If you’re hosting your own single-tenant private cloud, vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Spectreare yours alone to mitigate.

Address Your Needs

There’s obviously more than one model for cloud adoption, as customers have to balance many variables. A small slice of a multi-tenant public cloud may work for a startup today, but perhaps not as it grows its services and customer base. Enterprise companies will need to carefully weigh the costs and advantages of sharing multi-tenant or using their own single-tenant cloud.

If you’re a consumer of cloud resources — or planning to become one — you need to ask the right questions when planning your cloud adoption or managing your cloud strategy. Is the most important question for you public cloud vs. private cloud, or is it multi-tenant cloud vs. single-tenant cloud? Are you more concerned with security, performance, or control? Understanding your priorities is the key to making the best, most-informed cloud-adoption decisions.

This article, written by me, was originally published Jan 8, 2018 in the New Relic Blog, then republished Jan 16, 2018 in DZone/Cloud Zone.

Modern Software Podcast - Multi-Cloud Adoption

If you still think multi-cloud is all about deliberately choosing several cloud providers to avoid vendor lock-in, you may be missing the point. That’s just one key takeaway from the latest episode of the New Relic Modern Software Podcast, which delves into the complex world of running—and monitoring—applications in multi-cloud environments.

[We]...invited New Relic’s Senior Director of Strategic Architecture Lee Atchison and Senior Manager of Product Marketing Aaron Newcomb to share the perspective they’ve gained from working with New Relic customers.

Listen to the podcast here.

The 2018 Pivot for Dynamic Apps, DevOps: Live Deployment Monitoring Takes Center Stage Away From Container Orchestration

"The yin-yang of dynamic apps and DevOps may come into a new balance in 2018. Container orchestration will be less important, while monitoring live deployments will become the crucial focus. This shift comes in large part due to big steps in Amazon Web Services, says Lee Atchison, senior director of strategic architecture at New Relic. IDN explores. "

Read this interview with Lee Atchison on idevnews.


The Dynamic Cloud: Availability and Scalability for Your Biggest Days

Does this story sound familiar?

It’s the day of the big game. You invite a bunch of your friends over to watch on your brand-new 75-inch Ultra-HD Super Deluxe TV. You’ve got the beer. You’ve got your snacks laid out. Everything’s ready to go. The game is about to start.

When, all of a sudden, the power goes out, the lights flicker off, and the TV goes dark. For you and your friends, it’s game over. Well, not for your friends—they just head over to somebody else’s house to watch. OK for them, not so much for you.

This was supposed to be your big day, the day that you wanted to show off and have fun with your friends, and it didn’t work. Obviously, you’re upset, so you call up the power company and ask, “What the heck happened?”

Not surprisingly, you get little sympathy. After all, they say, you had power most of the time!

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The 6 Levels of Cloud Maturity

For many enterprises, finding success in the cloud is still a daunting challenge. Too often, organizations set overly high expectations for the benefits while underestimating the amount of work required. An unfortunate result can be a vicious cycle of blame, finger pointing, and grasping for something—anything—that could be considered a victory.


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World Tour 2017 - Stop #8: Zürich, Switzerland

Last public stop on the world tour was Zürich, Switzerland.

At this event, we had the opportunity to listen to Pasi Katajainen, CTO Germany of Nordcloud, one of our partners. He continued on from my presentation on migration maturity, and added his take on how cloud migration is as much a cultural transformation as a technical transformation. He further talked about issues around security and system architecture patterns to enable a secure cloud infrastructure.

This was a small and quiet crowd during the presentation, but good questions and follow up afterwards. In discussions after the event, it seems that most of the customers and prospects present could see where they were in the cloud maturity process I presented. This process seems to be hitting home in companies, especially those enterprises that are not as far along on their cloud journey. The newer you are in your cloud journey, the more useful it can be to understand the maturity process ahead of you. It can save you time, aggravation, and failure in the future.

Tomorrow is a private customer event in Stuttgart, then Frankfurt and home. This is the end of the world tour. It’s been a long trip, but it’s been very valuable in seeing how customers in different cultures and different environments have similar problems but potentially very different takes on them. In future articles, I hope to discuss some of these cultural patterns and how companies can avoid potential problems from the patterns. Additionally, how can companies proactively leverage these patterns to their own advantages in order to take better advantage of the dynamic cloud and dynamic infrastructure to build highly scalable, highly available applications.


World Tour 2017 - Stop #6: Düsseldorf, Germany (via Frankfurt, Germany)

After a quick stop for an important customer visit in Frankfurt, I headed to Düsseldorf for the next leg in our cloud roadshow.

Here we had a small crowd, half dozen people or so. Honestly, I was worried it would be dry and flat with such a small crowd. But on the contrary, the audience was very interactive and we had good discussions about cloud and cloud migration.


Among these customers, the public cloud was not as much of an immediate concern. Regulatory and other issues have kept most of the folks we talked to in their own data centers. Concerns about security and data sovereignty are important considerations for this group of customers. Keeping their company and customer data in country…or at least in the EU…was of serious concern for them. Resiliency and the ability to rollover to new data centers during outages was also a frequent discussion point. Doing that while maintaining the ability to stay in country was a nagging concern. Data sovereignty isn’t solved if contingency plans involve taking data out of country.

All-in-all, most of these folks were much earlier on their cloud migration than the typical customer I talk to. This helped me to remember that the ability to use the public cloud is still not a given in every industry and in every culture. Yes, I did know this before, but this event has helped that sink in and served as a reminder.

There was great general interest in the cloud and how dynamic infrastructures can help them in the future. Moving “faster” was not necessarily a compelling goal, but consistent progress was important. Tools like DevOps processes are tools that can help formalize development processes in a universal way.

Overall a great, albeit small, event with well informed and engaged attendees.

World Tour 2017 - Stop #4: London, UK

Wednesday was stop #4 on my world tour in London, UK. I gave one of my dynamic cloud presentations to a room full of customers. Our friends at Sumo Logic were also there to talk about our integration with them, and customer Direct Line Group gave us a case study review of their use of New Relic.

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World Tour 2017 - Stop #3: Auckland, New Zealand

I love Auckland. I arrived in Auckland Friday night after finishing my meetings in Melbourne, Australia earlier in the day. I’ve spent the whole weekend here island hopping, wine tasting, and picture taking. New Zealand is as beautiful as you imagine it to be.

On Monday was our executive breakfast. We had around 30 people from all over New Zealand attend. I presented a longer version of my FutureStack talk on enabling cloud migrations and dynamic infrastructures. Afterwards, we had a more intimate meeting with key individuals from several of those attending the morning event. This was a Q&A session and several good questions were asked. I was pleasantly surprised to see how open execs from different companies could be with each other in such a casual setting. It really demonstrated the open and friendly nature that is New Zealand.

I also saw demonstrated on multiple occasions how, even though NZ is a small and relatively isolated nation, the people you know and the connections you make are as important to NZ culture as the services you provide. I learned the real meaning of the NZ “two degrees of separation”…chances are high that someone you know, knows almost anyone else in NZ. It really is a small world here. Small, but friendly and very productive.

After that, I had private meetings with a few of our key customers in a few different industries.

It’s clear to me that the cloud is a critical component for businesses in the middle of a digital transformation in New Zealand. Many of their struggles are the same as other companies across the world. But they also have some unique requirements. New Zealand is a small country that is physically isolated from the rest of the world. This gives tremendous opportunity for local businesses to fill the gap of larger enterprises that cover much of the rest of the globe. For these companies, fast and nimble execution is even more critical than it is for their more global counterparts, and they must be fast and nimble with reduced resources and reduced customer opportunity. There is no room for error and no room for waste.

So far on my world tour, New Zealand is my greatest surprise. It’s a beautiful country with warm, friendly, and inviting people. But people that take their business seriously.

This was my first trip to NZ…pronounced “InZed” here…but I am absolutely certain it won’t be my last.


Join Me on World Cloud Evangelism Tour

During the months of October and November, I will be undertaking a four week, ten city, six country, worldwide Cloud Roadshow. During this trip I will be visiting key customers and speaking at various events across the globe. I'll be visiting Australia, New Zealand, England, Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland. Here are the cities I will be visiting and the dates I will be there:

  • Sydney, Australia - Oct 23 to Oct 25. This will include presenting at New Relic's FutureStack/Sydney show on October 24th.
  • Melbourne, Australia - Oct 26 to Oct 27.
  • Auckland, New Zealand - Oct 30.
  • London, England - Nov 7 to Nov 8.
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands - Nov 9 to Nov 10.
  • Dusseldorf, Germany - Nov 13.
  • Munich, Germany - Nov 14.
  • Zurich, Switzerland - Nov 15.
  • Stuttgart, Germany - Nov 16.
  • Frankfurt, Germany - Nov 17.

As details are finalized, more information will be available on my website at


Everything you ever wanted to know about serverless computing but were afraid to ask

We’ve heard the buzzword, we hear the excitement, but what exactly is serverless computing and why should I care about it?

Serverless computing is running an application in the cloud in such a way that the application owner does not have to manage the underlying servers that are running the application. The servers are still there, but they are managed completely and invisibly by the cloud service provider. From the standpoint of the application owner, the servers are invisible to them, hence the term serverless.

While it is also commonly referred to as ‘Function-as-a-Service’, a better name for serverless computing in my opinion would be ‘Compute-as-a-Service’ (CaaS – if it wasn’t taken already) because it offers the ability to purchase compute in small increments, not functions in small increments.

Understanding serverless computing is critical as it is rapidly becoming a component of enterprise digital strategies. In fact at New Relic we recently surveyed more than 500 customers on their adoption of dynamic cloud technologies and found 64% of respondents had deployed serverless technologies in some form of production or pilot, with another 13% investigating with eyes towards a pilot.

What’s servers got to do with it?

One of the burdens that most IT organizations within fast growing digital enterprises must deal with is deciding how many servers to allocate for a given application in the cloud. They must allocate enough servers for the application to run effectively for however many of their users may try to use the application. If they allocate too many servers, they waste money and resources. If they allocate too few servers, the application may fail by not functioning properly or crashing completely for their users.

Additionally, if an application sees a sudden spike in traffic for some unforeseen reason – such as a news site suddenly getting a surge in visitors because of a breaking story – the additional load can overwhelm the existing servers and make the application unresponsive. We’ve all experienced this as a digital consumer. We go to a website that is currently very popular, and the website is slow to respond or doesn’t respond at all. The process of making sure enough servers is available to the application at any time is called ‘application scaling’.

If the application is run on a serverless cloud, however, IT does not have to worry about how many servers are needed to run the application. The cloud service provider will make sure that sufficient servers are always available to handle the application’s needs. As the needs of the application change, the number of allocated compute resources can be adjusted automatically.

The cloud service provider does this typically by maintaining a shared pool of servers across all their customers and allocates those computing resources as needed for a particular customer’s applications only when they are needed. When the application no longer needs the server capacity, the computing resources are pulled back into the shared pool and made available for another customer’s use.

Server shuffle – bearing the cost of servers

For IT organizations, there are two main advantages of this approach. First, the application can respond to sudden spikes in traffic automatically without the IT team involved in the scaling of the application. This is especially useful for applications that often see sudden and unforeseeable traffic increases, such as a news site covering breaking news.

Second, IT only has to pay for the actual compute resources they consume. They do not have to pay for idle servers lying around and unused due to low traffic volume. They are only charged for the actual compute resources they consume. When the application is busy, they pay more for the needed compute resources. When the application is less busy, they pay less for the needed resources.

There are benefits for cloud service providers too. Serverless computing allows them to manage computing resources across a larger customer set, which averages out traffic more and makes it easier for them to predict demand. This is because the larger the number of customers, the more uniform the average traffic needs are, and the better they can optimize usage. Additionally, by ‘hiding’ the servers and implementation of the service from the consumer, they can optimize the implementation based on their predicted needs and requirements.

From a financial standpoint, the cloud service provider’s ability to predict demand accurately is critical for them being able to support their customers while maintaining very thin business financial margins. Additionally, due to the extra flexibility provided to their customers, cloud service providers can usually charge a premium price for these compute resources.

When to go serverless

Like all tools, knowing when it is useful and when it is not is important to make effective use of the tool. Understanding when and how to use serverless computing involves three main considerations.

Cost & traffic

Serverless computing works best when a company’s computing needs are quite variable, with very high highs and very low lows in traffic volume. If this is the case, companies only pay for the resources they actually consume, so they may pay more at times of higher utilisation and less at times of lower utilisation. For very spiky applications, this will save money in the long term. However, if an application’s use of computing is much more uniform, the advantages of serverless are less dramatic and the premium price for the resources can cause serverless computing to be significantly more expensive for an organization than managing their own servers. So, serverless computing is useful mainly for applications with variable traffic profiles.

Setup & operation

Serverless computing is often seen as harder to setup and manage than traditional server-based computing. This is mostly because the existing tools that IT professional have commonly relied on, for years, are optimized for deploying applications to server-based environments. Newer tools are needed to make better use of serverless computing and make it easier to manage large serverless applications. Those tools will eventually be created. Today, however, the current tools are mostly immature or non-existent.

Additionally, the need for diagnostic tools for solving problems with serverless computing are fundamentally different than for solving standard server-based applications. This means that new tools and capabilities must be developed to keep serverless applications running optimally. While there are tools on the market which currently support serverless computing, these tools must continue to evolve to meet the needs of these new compute paradigms before they can provide the same level of support as they do for server based applications.

Standardization & portability

There are also no standards today for how application owners interface with serverless computing. Each cloud service provider provides a different and unique method for offering serverless computing. Amazon Lambda works very differently from Microsoft Azure Functions, which works very differently from Google Cloud Functions. This means that an application owner who wants to take advantage of serverless computing will find they can be locked into a single cloud service provider to a greater degree than if they use more standardized traditional server-based computing.

Different flavors of serverless services

When thinking about serverless, it is easy to focus on serverless computing, such as those capabilities provided by Amazon Lambda, Microsoft Azure Functions and Google Cloud Functions. However, there are many other cloud based services that offer similar advantages to serverless computing, meaning they allow the application owner to scale the use of the service without having to worry about allocating reserved servers for the service to use.

Classic examples of this include serverless databases such as Amazon DynamoDB and Google Cloud Datastore. But there are other services, such as object stores (Amazon S3), queuing and notification services (SQS, SNS), and email distribution services that offer similar scalable capabilities without the need for allocating and managing servers. Using these services involves the same sets of considerations as does serverless computing.

The bottom line

Serverless computing offers a valuable toolset digital enterprises can use in building their applications, especially applications with huge variability in traffic usage. However, like any tool, they have a use and a purpose and it typically does not make sense to use serverless for all of an IT organization’s computing needs. Traditional server-based computing still has advantages and uses and will likely remain that way for some time to come.

Used properly, serverless computing can help you build your application to scale to your greatest needs without breaking the bank financially. But it should be used in conjunction with – not as a replacement for – other tools and computing capabilities to form a complete application solution.

Article, written by me, originally appeared in Diginomica, Aug 2017.