(Note: For simplicity, I'll refer to web operations, server systems, devops, and so on as simply "Ops" or "systems".)
Do you worry about:
- missing deadlines?
- embarrassing system failures?
- waking up to frantic alerts at 3am?
- burning out from tedious system maintenance?
- managers taking your quiet stable systems for granted?
- getting stuck with bad hires who are a poor fit for your team?
Great! You're in the right place.
Systems so good, you'll have a surplus
How would you like to have fast, reliable Ops that are so easy to manage that you end up with a surplus of engineering time?
Wouldn't it be great to be able to use that surplus to do more interesting and valuable projects?
That's what this program is designed for - to give you this power and freedom. Your top engineers get to satisfy their passion for professional growth and your company gets to satisfy its business goals with responsive and stable systems.
What is this training program EXACTLY?
This is an online guided training program for current and future CTOs and Technical Managers who have responsibility for Systems/Ops/DevOps Engineers.
In this program we cover the High Velocity Ops strategies for optimizing your web operations for maximum speed and reliability.
Learn strategies to:
- Avoid costly mistakes that could cripple or kill your business
- Create systems that are cheap, solid, and support massive scale
- Maintain high visibility of Ops' contributions to the company even for quiet, stable systems
Who this program is for:
If you're a current or future engineering leader who oversees your company's web operations, you're in the right place.
This describes your situation:
- Your company has some kind of Ops budget and one or more full-time Ops engineers.
- Your goal is to use your Ops resources to deliver the maximum speed and reliability for your company's systems.
- You want to aggressively remove risk of failure from your systems and to have lightning responsiveness when a problem does comes up.
Who this program is not for:
If you are a startup founder or early startup employee, then you want my other training program: High Velocity Ops for Maximizing Growth. That program is for startups that do not yet have dedicated full-time Ops staff and that need to focus on reducing the Ops overhead as much as possible in order to maximize resources for driving growth.
Breaking from the defaults
Regardless of which program is for you, it's important to note that it takes confidence to break from the default and established Ops "wisdom". I can try to convince you that these methods are tremendously faster and cheaper than the defaults, but if you don't have the confidence to break with tradition, then you will not be served well by this program.
Why High Velocity Ops?
Our industry is still learning how to crawl. An IAG study found that 68% of all tech projects fail. That number is insane! By comparison, how many professional plumbing projects fail? Just asking that question seems silly because the plumbing industry is so mature. It would be a huge deal if a plumbing project went 2X over schedule and over budget. For tech projects, I regularly see companies take 10 times longer to deliver than they need to. (Ack!)
There's a ton of bad advice floating around that's misleading a lot of smart folks. Often the advice is from one-time lucky startup founders that succeeded despite horrible Ops practices that by sheer luck didn't kill them before they cashed-out. They'll have spent 10X to 100X more time and money than they should have, but they just didn't know any better.
The techniques in this program will not require faith. I will not ask you to just believe me, but instead will try to make it as obvious as I can that these methods are faster, cheaper, and lower-risk than the old defaults. I will compare the old methods with the High Velocity methods and you can decide for yourself if they make sense. I've used every technique to great advantage many times, so I know they work, but I won't require blind faith from you. If you are not convinced of the method based on its merits alone, then I haven't met my goal.
Reasoning from First Principles
The systems engineering field is still in its infancy. Many "expert" systems engineers are encyclopedias of low-level technical knowledge, but don't have a grasp on the key fundamentals.
And it's those fundamentals that make the difference between speed and excruciating sluggishness for Ops delivery.
The best way I've found to teach modern systems for maximizing Ops for speed and reliability is to start from the basic foundations and work up from there.
Elon Musk explains the First Principles approach:
"First principles is kind of a physics way of looking at the world. You boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, 'What are we sure is true?' ...and then reason up from there."
To describe this, he gives a great example:
Historically, battery packs cost $600 per kilowatt hour. People assume that's just the way it is. But, if you look at the fundamental elements of a battery pack, you see that it is just a combination of elements like cobalt, nickel, aluminum, carbon, polymers, and a seal can. However, if you look at the costs of those individual materials and add them up, it comes to only $80. So, then it's just a matter of coming up with a clever way to combine those materials and you can create a dramatically cheaper battery pack.
The advantage of First Principles is that it cuts through all the outdated traditions, zealotry, and hyped-up fads around systems.
Without building from First Principles, there is often a lot of, "But some Unicorn company did it this other way..." or, "But so-and-so expert said this one thing..."
First Principles establishes clearly what you need and what you don't.
All the fluff gets left behind.
How this benefits you
Any sufficiently technical engineer can set up a big mess of wastefully slow systems for their company. That is neither rare nor valuable. Lots of people do that. It's sadly very common in our industry.
This program prepares you to be one of the most powerful engineering leaders when it comes to maximizing your systems for speed and reliability. That is very rare and very valuable. It will benefit you throughout your career whether you are a solo Ops engineer at a small company or a CTO running an engineering team at a larger company.
- Understand what good systems look like and how to show appreciation for quiet, cheap, stable systems
- Recognize the talented engineers that make these "invisible" systems possible before they’re snatched up by competitors
- Know exactly what to look for when hiring top systems engineers, which means seeing beyond resumé buzzwords and instead selecting for the skills that really matter
- Ensure your systems are designed to allow you to focus on what matters: speed, low-cost, and reliability
- Sleep better at night knowing your company’s Ops are running smoothly without your constant supervision
- Be able to see through bad systems advice and protect your team from falling victim to it
- Use First Principles to help your team understand the big why behind the High Velocity approach
We'll cover 10 modules.
1. Strategies for Maximizing Performance
- Closer look at the purpose and benefits of these strategies
2. Navigating Hazards
- Countering bad advice
- Most common mistakes
3. First Principles: Systems
- The fundamental purpose of the system
- The components of the system
- The fundamental needs of those components
4. First Principles: Workflows
- Fundamentals of system workflows
- creating environments
- regular recurring tasks
- as-needed triggered tasks
- recovery workflows
5. Strategies for Speed: Don't Die
- Mortal risks
- Crippling risks
6. Strategies for Speed: Avoid Slow Downs
- Key factors in slowing growth
- Strategies for countering each slowing factor
7. Strategies for Speed: FULL Speed
- Key factors for maintaining top speed
- Hiring engineers with systems speed skills
8. Strategies for Speed: Scaling
- Scaling principles for maximizing speed
- How to not throw away your advantages when at smaller scales
- How to keep costs low when scaling team
9. Strategies for Speed: All Hands on Deck
- How to sell benefits of High Velocity Ops to engineers
- Calling out bad system smells
- Reward what is impressive
- How to maintain visibility for invisible systems
10. Step-by-Step: Systems Speed-Up
- Exactly how to approach speeding up your systems
A Great Investment
Many companies take 5-50X times longer than needed to complete systems projects. All of that wasted time and effort could have been channeled into more rewarding activities, both for the engineers and the company.
Knowing these Maximizing Performance strategies can save you from falling into those slowness traps. You can save a lot of time, money, and energy - and in turn, boost your enjoyment of life in general.
Learn these strategies now and you'll be able to save yourself and your companies many thousands of engineering hours and many millions of dollars over the course of your career.
The sooner you get started, the sooner you'll have the power to speed up your systems development.
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Answers to Your Questions
Am I a good fit for this?
If your top priority is creating great systems that deliver on the most important business metrics for your company, then yes!
You care deeply about these:
- Extremely low maintenance
- Low cost
- High reliability
- Robust security
- Readiness to scale
- Ease of hiring
- Support for high-speed development
The folks I've found that are typically a bad fit for this are those who:
- Only care about the technology and ignore how it impacts the success of their business.
- Can't break from tradition and must always follow the crowd, no matter how slow they are going.
- Are addicted to heroics and must keep their systems in a constant state of adventure/peril so they can be the perpetual hero.
What scale do you cover?
This program covers scale from established medium-size companies to companies (or divisions of larger companies) with annual revenue up to a few hundred million. Of course, revenue is a very loose indicator, but it will be accurate in most cases. We don't cover scale that requires building your own data centers, etc.
What if the program isn’t for me? Can I get a refund?
Absolutely. You can sign up for the program and get a full-refund if you cancel before the last session.
No questions asked, no hard feelings, just a fair refund if it's not for you.
How long is it and how is it delivered?
About 7 hours of instruction and 2 hours of group systems consulting delivered live via online video (~9 hours total).
It is typically delivered in 3 sessions of 3 hours each (though I may offer other formats periodically).
How do you know this stuff?
In short, I've completed hundreds of successful systems-improvement projects for my clients. More details on my About page.
Do I need a technical background for this program?
Not really. This is primarily a strategy training program. I've even taught this material to business executives and they fully understood it (though I did take a little extra time to explain some concepts like DNS, network encryption, etc).
Approximately 95% of the program requires no previous technical background. For the 5% of the program that requires a bit of technical explanation, I will let you know ahead of time the concepts you'll need to understand (it's not a lot).
In my experience, it's the basic strategies where systems most often fail. With the wrong strategies, no amount of technical brilliance will save your systems. That's why this program focuses primarily on getting the strategies and First Principles right.
Can I ask questions?
Absolutely. There are regular Q&A opportunities throughout the program.
Can you help me with my particular systems?
Yes —in the group consulting sessions I'm happy to answer these questions. Keep in mind though that this isn't a deep technical program so the questions should be primarily focused on the system strategies.
If you'd like private consulting where we review your company's systems and create a customized speed-up plan, there are special Systems Speedup packages available exclusively to alumni of this program.
I'm embarrassed about my systems, will you judge me?
You don't need to worry about feeling embarrassed about your current systems when we work together. Your systems have gotten your business to where it is now. That's awesome just in itself. We don't worry about the past —our only aim is to evolve your systems to be even better at achieving your business goals.
At some point in my career, I've made nearly every mistake we cover in the program. I've seen many of my engineering idols at the top companies in the world make these mistakes. Don't worry, you're in good company ;-)
Can you deliver a customized private version of this program to my company?
Yes, depending on my availability. If you'd like the program to be delivered privately to your team and customized to your particular systems and goals, contact me for details.
What software will I need to take the program?
You will need a Flash enabled browser to participate in the training.
The Chrome web browser comes with Flash built-in, so it's an easy option. It is also available for Mac, Linux, and Windows. Download it here.
For the nitty-gritty details on the system requirements for attendees on AnyMeeting (the platform we're using) —take a look here.
To test your setup, use the AnyMeeting System Test.
What about privacy?
I do not share system details associated with the company's identity without written permission or unless the details are already public. I will share generalized system stories anonymously but I always change any details that could possibly be used to identify the company. I do share the company names of my notable past corporate customers in a general list unless I've made a special agreement with them beforehand.
Will you sign my NDA or other contracts before working together?
Sometimes, but I have a significant surcharge fee for this since I need to take time to review it and have my lawyer review it, etc. Contact me with the details and I'll provide you a quote on the fee.
I really want to take this program, but I can't afford it right now. What are my options?
I plan to run a special version of this program periodically for those that are in a situation where they can't currently afford the program (like you're in a developing country, are a student, have 15 children, or something similar). Send me an email and describe your situation. Then if it is a good fit, I'll add you to the waiting list and when there are enough people on the list, I will notify you of the discounted price and dates for this special version of the program.
Please note though that this special version of the program will be different than the regular one. This program will be customized to cover the topics for those that have more time than money available to them. I realize that time is still in short supply for many students and those in developing countries, however, the reality is that purchasing time-saving solutions is often not an option in those circumstances. So, I skip many of the strategies where you can essentially trade money-for-time and outsource parts of your Ops work. Instead, I focus more on covering how to make the best use of your time since you will have to manage those things yourself.
I'm still not sure if this is for me. How can I learn more without taking the program?
That's no problem. This isn't for everyone. I'll be writing regularly about many of the topics I cover in the training programs and you can receive that content for free if you are subscribed to the email newsletter:
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