The Operations Report Card

A. Public Facing Practices

1. Are user requests tracked via a ticket system?
2. Are "the 3 empowering policies" defined and published?
3. Does the team record monthly metrics?

B. Modern Team Practices

4. Do you have a "policy and procedure" wiki?
5. Do you have a password safe?
6. Is your team's code kept in a source code control system?
7. Does your team use a bug-tracking system for their own code?
8. In your bugs/tickets, does stability have a higher priority than new features?
9. Does your team write "design docs?"
10. Do you have a "post-mortem" process?

C. Operational Practices

11. Does each service have an OpsDoc?
12. Does each service have appropriate monitoring?
13. Do you have a pager rotation schedule?
14. Do you have separate development, QA, and production systems?
15. Do roll-outs to many machines have a "canary process?"

D. Automation Practices

16. Do you use configuration management tools like cfengine/puppet/chef?
17. Do automated administration tasks run under role accounts?
18. Do automated processes that generate e-mail only do so when they have something to say?

E. Fleet Management Processes

19. Is there a database of all machines?
20. Is OS installation automated?
21. Can you automatically patch software across your entire fleet?
22. Do you have a PC refresh policy?

F. Disaster Preparation Practices

23. Can your servers keep operating even if 1 disk dies?
24. Is the network core N+1?
25. Are your backups automated?
26. Are your disaster recovery plans tested periodically?
27. Do machines in your data center have remote power / console access?

G. Security Practices

28. Do Desktops, laptops, and servers run self-updating, silent, anti-malware software?
29. Do you have a written security policy?
30. Do you submit to periodic security audits?
31. Can a user's account be disabled on all systems in 1 hour?
32. Can you change all privileged (root) passwords in 1 hour?

8. In your bugs/tickets, does stability have a higher priority than new features?

Adding new features is more fun than fixing bugs. Sadly we can't be fun here.

Mature teams prioritize bugs this way:

  • security (highest)
  • stability
  • bugs
  • performance
  • new features (lowest)

You have to fix stability before you add new features. Security issues are high priority stability issues.

One of the principles promoted by Mark Burgess is "seek stability, then new features". Some changes we make add features while others improve stability. The order should be feature, stability, feature, stability, feature, stability. Not feature, feature, feature, OMG!, stability, stability, stability. Make things stable before proceeding to the next awesome feature.

Doctors understand this. In a hospital emergency room a patient is stabilized first. You don't help someone recover from the flu if they are bleeding to death.

The priority of "performance bugs" is up for debate. In some places performance is the same as stability.

For More Information

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