Ops Books


These books are never far from my desk

My operations management experience was needed for a consulting project last year. I had been the head of a technology team before joining President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2011, plus I worked in management early in my career, so I had some books nearby to help get my head back into the operations and management realm.

While thumbing through these books looking for excerpts or chapters that might help, there were four of them that I decided to re-read from cover-to-cover. Even though some of them were published years ago, their material still seems relevant and useful. These four books plus a couple more are listed below.

Web Operations: Keeping the Data on Time by John Allspaw – This is one of those books of essays by various experts that O’Reilly seems to like churning out. For example, Baron Schwartz wrote the chapter on databases. In other words, this is a good book.

Scalable Internet Architectures by Theo Schlossnagle – Examples in this book involve very large systems, but this is a good book to have around even if you aren’t working with large environments. I’d also say that it’s a useful book for admins, developers and management.

Release It!: Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software by Michael T. Nygard – The first three sections on stability, capacity and design build up to the final section on operations. It’s easy to think this is a book on software development from its title and description, but it’s a valuable ops book as well.

The Visible Ops Handbook by Kevin Behr et al. – The subtitle is “Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditable Steps” where ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. Sounds like a real page-turner, right? Actually, it is… I’ve highlighted something on almost every page.

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt -This book is a vehicle for the author’s Theory Of Constraints (TOC) that is discussed in The Visible Ops Handbook, so I’ll list it here as well. The Goal was already an old book when I read it for the first time in 1995. It’s written in the form of a novel about the manager of a plant where everything is always going wrong and the lessons he learns from a scientist friend who is trying to help him see the non-intuitive ways to solve his problems.

Learning from First Responders: When Your Systems Have to Work by Dylan Richard – Dylan was one of my amazing managers at President Obama’s re-election campaign. Also, this book is free. Need I say more?

About Noel McKinney

Noel McKinney is the administrator of noelmckinney.com
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