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Value from autonomous speed


User stories have become the primary method used by agile teams for defining what value is provided by a system being built.

Separation of duties

Another viewpoint by workflow lifecycle adopted by the Atlas product from Hashicorp:


How can the organization as a whole more efficiently and effectively handle increasing complexity, increase scale, yet move more rapidly and innovatively?

The strategy of “devops” is:

  • Developers enabled with what they need to move quickly. This means multi-disciplinary full-stack skills are necessary among developers.

  • Sysadmin (ops) providing to autonomous developers shared infrastructure (networks, switches, DNS, load balancers, LDAP, NTP, CAs, monitoring, logging, etc.). This means increasing efforts toward training, and support rather than simply controlling access to servers.

  • QA (Quality Assurance) integrated among developers to provide the continuous testing which provides both early warning and safety-net for faster and more frequent deployments.

  • Financial sponsor (“management”) seeing reduced risk, lower expenses, higher revenues, with increased business agility.

User Story format

To facilitate estimation, each user story defined below is a summary that fits on 3x5 inch index card, following this prototype pattern:

  As a [role], I want to [do something] [with some frequency]
  so that I can/will [achieve some goal/objective].

The above is from the Mike Cohn book User Stories Applied.

Developer user stories

  • As a developer or end user, I can request an environment and all supporting environments (with networking constructs) on demand or self serviced.

  • As a developer, when I need to perform a very small (i.e. cosmetic) change, I can deploy it in less than 1 hour.

  • As a developer I understand operational requirements for my application (not just user requirements) (servers, IP addresses, sizes, apps, folders, files, etc.)

  • As a developer, I understand the operational environment into which my application will be deployed.

  • As a developer, when starting with a new customer/project, I can be up and running (full working environment) in less than 1 hour.

  • As a developer, I need feedback from operations on the impacts of my application on the operational environment so I can improve its behavior over time. (memory usage, disk space, network bandwidth usage, etc.)

  • As a developer, I am notified when application performance falls above or below applicable thresholds.

  • As a developer, I am notified when applications crash or are consuming too many resources in a production environment.

  • As a developer, I receive periodic reports on application usage so that I can see trends over time.

  • As a developer, I maintain build step configurations in only one location to reduce the risk of configuration divergence.

  • As a Sys Admin Developer, I know what parts of the configuration can be tuned.

  • As a Sys Admin Developer, I have insight into the internal states and behavior of the applications that are deployed so I can operate and tune them most effectively.

  • As a Sys Admin Developer, I have an overview of the application architecture so that I know which applications depend on which services.

Quality Assurance

Different organizations have different approaches.

System Admin user stories

When a PaaS service such as Amazon/Azure are used, these are provided by those vendors.

  • As a Sys Admin, I know the pattern of developer usage so I can prepare adequate capacity.

  • As a Sys Admin, I know when security anomalies occur so I can protect services from malicious attack.

Financial sponsor stories

  • As a Sponsor, I know the scope of various risks that exist (such as availability, latency, capacity, testability, etc.) so I can manage investor expectations and allocate adequate reserves.

  • As a Sponsor, I know the extent risks have been mitigated.

  • As a Sponsor, I know the payback period from expense incurred vs. resulting risk reduction so I can prove we are increasing investor value.

Fleshing out stories

User stories are unique to each team due to different priorities. So conversations about each is necessary, so that acceptance tests define the details of each story.

Use cases usually contain multiple scenarios (basic flow, alternate flows, exception flows).

User stories not fully flushed out or too large to be completed in one iteration (or sprint) are called “Epics”.

The full list of user stories is the product backlog. The Product Owner holds planning sessions to ensure that all relevant users stories contain sufficient detail and prioritized into releases or sprints.

Quality metrics

To judge the “goodness” of each user story, teams often use criteria with the acronym INVEST:

  • Independent of dependencies other work (blocked waiting to get done).

  • Negotiable rather than firm contracts about when they are implemented. (Negotiation of technical implementations can be facilitated by using the TeamCity Meta-Runner).

  • Valuable to someone (end-user customers, business, developers, operations, etc.)

  • Estimable in effort because a clear definition of what is in and out of scope makes for better estimates. This includes build steps. This does not include limitless refactoring.

  • Small so they are not vague.

  • Testable so what is considered “done” is clear to all.

Basis for estimation

User stories are used as the basis for estimating, planning, and whether value was delivered to customers.

A key DevOps strategy is bringing small increments through into productive use, which exposes process issues that need tuning.


One-word summary of the trade-off in the impact in additional complexity:

Values &
Autonomy Communication
Speed of change Execution
Scale Resilience
Composability Maintenance
Tech diversity Operational

This is explained by “Real World Microservices: Lessons from the Front Lines” by Zhamak Dehghani at ThoughtWorks Australia 24 Sep 2014.


  • Scaled Agile Framework and SAFe are trademarks of Leffingwell and Associates have refined their enterprise approach over many projects, with well-defined roles that fit within corporate strategic themes applied to budgets for value streams.

  • http://brentmcconnell.com/2014/02/devops-user-stories/

  • https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/blogs/c914709e-8097-4537-92ef-8982fc416138/entry/agile_in_practices_user_stories_explained2?lang=en

  • https://www.thoughtworks.com/p2magazine/issue12/treat-devops-stories-like-user-stories/

  • http://www.devopsonline.co.uk/

More on DevOps

This is one of a series on DevOps:

  1. DevOps_2.0
  2. ci-cd (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery)
  3. User Stories for DevOps

  4. Git and GitHub vs File Archival
  5. Git Commands and Statuses
  6. Git Commit, Tag, Push
  7. Git Utilities
  8. Data Security GitHub
  9. GitHub API
  10. TFS vs. GitHub

  11. Choices for DevOps Technologies
  12. Java DevOps Workflow
  13. AWS DevOps (CodeCommit, CodePipeline, CodeDeploy)
  14. AWS server deployment options

  15. Digital Ocean
  16. Cloud regions
  17. AWS Virtual Private Cloud
  18. Azure Cloud Onramp
  19. Azure Cloud
  20. Azure Cloud Powershell

  21. Packer automation to build Vagrant images
  22. Terraform multi-cloud provisioning automation

  23. Powershell Ecosystem
  24. Powershell on MacOS
  25. Powershell Desired System Configuration

  26. Jenkins Server Setup
  27. Jenkins Plug-ins
  28. Jenkins Freestyle jobs
  29. Jenkins2 Pipeline jobs using Groovy code in Jenkinsfile

  30. Dockerize apps
  31. Docker Setup
  32. Docker Build

  33. Maven on MacOSX

  34. Ansible

  35. MySQL Setup

  36. SonarQube static code scan

  37. API Management Microsoft
  38. API Management Amazon

  39. Scenarios for load