Friday, August 14, 2015

OODA Loop + Dev Ops + Delphix = High Speed, Low Drag


Back in the 1950's USAF Colonel John Boyd came up with a new combat decision methodology. He broke combat strategy into four stages: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. Completing those four stages returned you back to the Observe phase where the process would begin again. This process is known as the OODA Loop. Boyd maintained that the way to defeat an enemy was to lap your OODA Loop faster than your enemy can lap their OODA Loop.

As is often the case, what is good strategy for winning  on the battlefield, is also good for winning in the market place. We see this in the the DevOps mantras of today: "Continuous Feedback", "Fail Fast", "Agile Development", and "SCRUM." All of these "Devopsy" things fit snugly in the OODA Loop model.

And indeed, DevOps has proven itself invaluable in expediting a company's OODA Loop. Thanks to DevOps tools and methods, companies like Amazon do a distinct code change to production once every 11.6 seconds. That's over 7,000 times a day! They are able to observe market trends and user feedback in real time, make a decision on that information, release new features based on that information, and then observe the effect of those changes. This loop is completed many times (thousands) a day, which allows them to outpace their competition.

DevOps has provided those quicker OODA Loops mainly by eliminating the many numerous touchpoints that are required in software delivery: Support Desk, Infrastructure, Ops, DBA, Storage, Security, Project Managements, etc. Great tools like Puppet, Jenkins, Chef, and Ansible have automated the codified process flow and allowed companies to trim down environment requests from days/weeks/months to hours/days. In addition to the speed gains, the continuous feedback made possible via DevOps has allowed them to treat infrastructure as code and leverage version control to raise the overall quality of their products and projects.

That means we can go fast as we can, until we hit an impasse, because application projects still require a lot of waiting. There's a US Navy term  for that: High Speed, High Drag.  It's like having the world's fastest race car, but having the world's slowest pit crew. Development and modernization projects, datacenter and cloud migration projects, CooP/DR failover exercises, Data Masking and Auditing, BI reporting, etc. all require a waiting (hours, days, or weeks) during database and application resets and refreshes as terabytes of data are restored and copied across the network. That means the refresh/reset process is likely the longest task in the schedule. A ten minute destructive/failover test of your database/application can require a reset process that takes 10x-100x longer than the actual test, , if they are even attempted at all due of the level of effort and "time suck" required.

With Delphix, you take those application reset/refresh activities down to minutes and performed in a few clicks of a mouse or automated with your other DevOps tools. It doesn't matter if it is 5MB or 5TB; it is done with a few clicks and in just minutes. That means that your feedback cycles just became over twice as fast. When your application/database environments have fresh data near-instantly and on demand, you no longer wait, and instead spend your time Observing, Orienting, Deciding, and Acting. And that, is what the coveted "High Speed, Low Drag" for your OODLA loop that is needed to defeat the enemy and beat the competition. 

More information about Delphix can be found here: