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Enabling Engineering Productivity at the Financial Times

Sarah Wells
November 03, 2021

Enabling Engineering Productivity at the Financial Times

The Financial Times has embraced autonomy in our development teams, and as a result we move pretty fast - over 30,000 releases in a year from a development team of around 250. Because we have a wide variety of technical architectures, processes and team structures, we need to make sure that all those autonomous teams build in security, fault detection, and cost efficiency.

This is the responsibility of the Engineering Enablement group at the FT: teams who provide tooling and services for common capabilities like DNS, content delivery, cloud provisioning, observability, etc.; manage relationships with vendors; and provide insights and oversight to all our development teams.

To do this effectively, we have adopted principles and practices that centre on making sure teams don’t need to wait for us to do things, and we have stayed constantly focused on what our customer teams need from us.

In these slides, I discuss our approach and share what you can learn from our experiences working in this area for the last three years.

Sarah Wells

November 03, 2021

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  1. It’s only an experiment if it can fail “Experiments: the

    Good, the Bad and the Beautiful” by Linda Rising
  2. Enter Engineering Enablement Our aim is to standardise, simplify and

    advise, supporting the FT's product development teams so that they can deliver value quickly, securely and scalably.
  3. You needed sudo access to deploy code for the first

    time to a newly provisioned server
  4. Owned and supported It won’t disappear under people Transparent usage

    and cost insights It’s clear who is using it and how much their bill would be Can people rely on it?
  5. Discoverable Engineers can find out it exists Documented Step by

    step guides, explainers, reference docs all exist Self service You can solve your problem yourself Can people use this without costly co-ordination?
  6. Only added lines Only removed lines Modified but line count

    the same 220 (47%) 71 (15%) 141 (30%) 117 (25%) approved without any comments
  7. • Automatically approve simple stuff • Send DMARC/DKIM/MX changes to

    Cyber Security team for approval • Check for common mistakes • Look for modifications that are benign and auto- approve • Use biz-ops to find a suitable team member that can peer review
  8. Easy to use Documentation guides new users - an ‘on-

    ramp’ Consistent developer experience If you’ve used other capabilities, this should be recognisably similar Will people get stuck?
  9. Independent yet composable You can use it on its own

    or combine it with other capabilities Automation friendly APIs, SDKs, CLIs Can people use it in ways we didn’t expect?
  10. Safe to use Sensible defaults, small blast radius Secure and

    compliant Security issues are fixed for you, capabilities comply with our policies Reliable Suitable levels of availability, scalability and performance Does it guide people to do the right thing?
  11. Valuable Owned and supported Transparent usage and cost insights Discoverable

    Documented Self service Easy to use Consistent developer experience Independent yet composable Automation friendly Safe to use Secure and compliant Reliable
  12. Charity Majors: https:/ /charity.wtf/ 2018/12/02/software-sprawl-the-golden- path-and-scaling-teams-with-agency/ Galo Navarro: https:/ /srvaroa.github.io/paas/

    infrastructure/platform/kubernetes/cloud/ 2020/01/02/talk-how-to-build-a-paas- for-1500-engineers.html https:/ /backstage.io/