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WTF is Cloud Native: Enabling Engineering Productivity at the Financial Times

Sarah Wells
November 04, 2021

WTF is Cloud Native: 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 04, 2021

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  1. Enabling Engineering Productivity at the Financial Times Sarah Wells Technical

    Director for Engineering Enablement @sarahjwells
  2. Enabling Engineering Productivity at the Financial Times Sarah Wells Technical

    Director for Engineering Enablement @sarahjwells
  3. @sarahjwells Changes to production at the FT

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

    Good, the Bad and the Beautiful” by Linda Rising
  5. @sarahjwells • Delivery lead time • Deployment frequency • Change

    fail rate • Time to restore service
  6. @sarahjwells To do well on these metrics, teams need to

    be able to get on with things
  7. @sarahjwells “Full stack” stops somewhere!

  8. @sarahjwells 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.
  9. @sarahjwells In Team Topologies terms, we are platform and enabling

  10. @sarahjwells

  11. Pave the road Guardrails not fences

  12. A cautionary tale…

  13. @sarahjwells FT Platform impact on server provisioning time

  14. @sarahjwells You needed sudo access to deploy code for the

    first time to a newly provisioned server
  15. @sarahjwells Autonomous teams can choose something else http://matt.chadburn.co.uk/notes/teams-as-services.html

  16. @sarahjwells Teams chose other options

  17. @sarahjwells Teams chose other options: Heroku Containers

  18. @sarahjwells Internal teams are service providers now

  19. @sarahjwells

  20. Guardrails not fences

  21. @sarahjwells

  22. @sarahjwells People shouldn’t need to read the guardrails

  23. @sarahjwells You need to do this to spin up AWS

  24. @sarahjwells

  25. @sarahjwells

  26. @sarahjwells

  27. @sarahjwells Evolving the guardrails

  28. @sarahjwells Our Tech Governance Group Influenced by https://philcalcado.com/2018/11/19/a_structured_rfc_process.html

  29. Pave the road

  30. @sarahjwells The golden path: An opinionated and supported way of

    doing things https://engineering.atspotify.com/2020/08/17/ how-we-use-golden-paths-to-solve- fragmentation-in-our-software-ecosystem/
  31. @sarahjwells “Supported”

  32. Principles for building the golden path

  33. @sarahjwells Valuable Has obvious value to engineers Should we provide

    this capability?
  34. @sarahjwells Make sure someone is signed up to use the

    thing you are building
  35. @sarahjwells 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?
  36. @sarahjwells

  37. @sarahjwells 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?
  38. @sarahjwells The Tech Hub

  39. @sarahjwells

  40. @sarahjwells “Lots of manual PR approvals, which delays time to

    release. E.g. approvals for DNS repo”
  41. @sarahjwells Only added linesOnly removed lines Modified but line count

    the same 220 (47%) 71 (15%) 141 (30%) 117 (25%) approved without any comments
  42. @sarahjwells • 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
  43. @sarahjwells https://medium.com/ft-product-technology/cybernetic-meadows- how-a-bot-helps-engineers-at-the-ft-24636f6268e3

  44. @sarahjwells 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?
  45. @sarahjwells

  46. @sarahjwells 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?
  47. @sarahjwells

  48. @sarahjwells 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?
  49. @sarahjwells The Biz Ops graph

  50. @sarahjwells Runbooks are extracted to S3

  51. @sarahjwells 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
  52. @sarahjwells 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/pl atform/kubernetes/cloud/2020/01/02/

    talk-how-to-build-a-paas-for-1500- engineers.html https://backstage.io/
  53. Thank you @sarahjwells