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John Allspaw Discusses Devops and Continuous Delivery

This is the second in a series of interviews on continuous delivery, this time with John Allspaw, one of my co-authors on the Devops Cookbook. You can see the first one, with Jesse Robbins, on the ThoughtWorks Studios Blog. These interviews will eventually be put together – along with some additional exclusive material – into a set of LiveLessons, with the royalties going to Black Girls Code. If you want to be notified when the final product is released, please sign up for my newsletter.

John Allspaw has worked in systems operations for over fourteen years in biotech, government and online media. He started out tuning parallel clusters running vehicle crash simulations for the U.S. government, and then moved on to the Internet in 1997. He built the backing infrastructures at Salon, InfoWorld, Friendster, and Flickr. He is now SVP of Tech Operations at Etsy, and is the author of The Art of Capacity Planning and Web Operations published by O’Reilly. He blogs at

In the video, John answers the following questions:

  • What is devops? Why now?
  • What did Flickr do differently that worked? How did you apply that at Etsy?
  • How did you take Etsy from painful releases to continuous deployment?
  • How about larger organizations? Does continuous delivery impose more risk?
  • What’s the role of operations in an organization that wants to practice devops?
  • Is there still room for specialization in the devops model?
  • What advice would you give developers who want to do continuous deployment?
  • How do you reduce the risk of releases?
  • How do you create resilient systems on the web?
  • How do you deal with databases in the world of continuous delivery?

  • Matthew Farwell

    Thanks for recording this interview, and the one with Elizabeth Hendrickson as well, they were very interesting.

    A couple of requests. Would it be possible to have someone saying the questions as well as them appearing on the screen? That way I don’t have to track back every time there is a blank pause until John starts speaking again. Also, if the interviews continue this format (no slides, nothing to look at really), could you make this available as an mp3 download, or even better iTunes podcast?

    Thanks again. Looking forward to the next one.

    Matthew Farwell

    • Jez Humble

      Thanks for your feedback. I actually realized that it would make more sense to splice in the questions in audio format when I did Elisabeth’s interview, so you can listen to hers like a podcast already. I’ll definitely do mp3s. Setting up iTunes podcasts looks like a bit of a drag, but once I have enough content I’ll see what I can do.

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