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Author: castroflavio

Tutorial – What is Infrastructure as Code?

Howdy!! There’s so much network automation content out there, I’ve been feeling like there’s not much value in blogging about it. This is the first post of a of a series with some theory and lab-like tutorials plus code examples of what I believe to be the meat and bones of Infrastructure as Code(IaC).

In the last decade, the industry has been seeing a strong push to adopt software practices towards network engineering. SOME COMPANIES have been successful at that, but I don’t think that’s for everyone. Software development is hard; cost-effective software development is an especially rare beast when you are paying 300K per engineer annually. Okay, so, what?

I claim it’s way more feasible to take a shorter step and aim to implement successful DevOps practices to your networking team than it is to FULLY run your network team like a software team. Infra-as-Code comes in as an enabler for that goal.

Why Infra-as-Code(IaC)?

Infrastructure as Code can simplify and accelerate your infrastructure provisioning process, help you avoid mistakes and comply with policies, keep your environments consistent, and save your company a lot of time and money. Your engineers can be more productive on focus on higher-value tasks. And you can better serve your customers.

https://www.thorntech.com/2018/01/infrastructureascodebenefits/

If IaC isn’t something you’re doing now, maybe it’s time to start!

I’m SOLD! HOW can I get started?

I’m glad I asked! This article defines 6 best-practices to take the most out of IaC:

  1. Codify everything
  2. Document as little as possible
  3. Maintain version control
  4. Continuously test, integrate, and deploy
  5. Make your infrastructure code modular
  6. Make your infrastructure immutable (when possible)

So, this is our lab curriculum, so far:
1. Codify everything: How to use Ansible to automate network provisioning.
3. Maintain version control: Git Tutorial with Ansible
4. Continuously test, integrate and deploy: CI/CD with GitLab
4.1 Continuous test with Batfish and Robot framework

Let me know how this sounds, and if you find this post in the future but I haven’t followed up with it, please make a comment, and I’ll do my best to get it done.

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Product Management Bootcamp

What’s going on? While working on datacenter networking automation for PayPal this past year, I noticed how much more effective some development teams are when they have a good product manager and that piqued my curiosity. I realized I always spend a good amount of time asking why the work is done before doing it and this is one of the characteristics of a product manager.

Last week, I joined a Bootcamp on Product Management at General Assembly. My goal in joining this Bootcamp is to dive into the subject and understand how product management brings value to the team. Along the way, I hope to acquire some skills to help me be more effective at my job.

In this article, I’m going to list the reading recommendation for the first week of the bootcamp and write a reading summary:

Here is the list of articles:

Good PM/Bad PM by Ben Horowitz and David Weiden – 3.5 stars

Good article that does a good job at densely describing what a good product manager does, and cautions about what a bad product manager does as well.Highlights of a Good PDM:

Clearly defines requirements. The definition is based on research, information and a logical transparent process. This definition empowers engineering to fill the technical gaps, rather than pushing a vision downwards, it builds it’s vision gathering information informally from engineering.
Knows what it takes to make it’s product successful and it defines that in writing.

Doesn’t rest until product vision is consistent across all teams.

What’s Your Problem (Parts 1 and 2 only) by Matt Lavoie – 5 stars

Incredible article that focuses on explaining why defining a problem statement is crucial for the success of an endeavor rather than jumping into solutions as we Engineers usually do. I like that it’s a fun read, yet concise and effective in pushing its point across. Highlights:

With a problem statement, there is no feature creep. There’s a problem and a measurable outcome.
If we believe something will get to that outcome and we can create an experiment to prove it, we should work on it.

By not taking a moment to identify the problem, your implementation won’t be as successful as it could be.

Outcome-driven teams, know when they are successful by utilizing measurement with our output to know that we reached our desired outcome.

The Five Components of a Good Hypothesis by Teresa Torres – 4 stars

Solid reading that describes why one should define good hypothesis for it’s work to be effective. I actually like the format that she criticizes in a later article: How to Improve Your Experiment Design (And Build Trust in Your Product Experiments). Which is the Lean Startup format:

We believe [this capability]
Will result in [this outcome]
We will have confidence to proceed when [we see these measurable signals]

I like it better because its action driven. I can see that depending on the problem her hypothesis template would be more accurate, but the Lean Startup one is lean, it only has the essential to get you moving.

A Product Manager’s Job by Josh Elman – 3 stars

Good read, but unimpressive honestly. It just expands on his vision of the PDM’s job: “Help your team (and company) ship the right product to your users”. Which is true. I think it still needs insights on how this can be achieved for this information to be relevant to me

Product Management vs. Product Marketing by Marty Cagan – 4.5 stars

Great read, and it describes what the author think should be the two complementary roles needed to launch a product. The author states that often the two roles are assigned to the same person even though people usually are focuses in one aspect or the other and that often creates a gap.

Product Management vs. Project Management by Marty Cagan (5/10)

Good read but unimpressive.

This is all for now folks, I’m excited and I’ll try to write a blog post weekly about this new experience.

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