Context over Control: How Netflix gives every developer access to Production

Dec 31, 2019 by DROdio

At the 2019 Spinnaker Summit, I interviewed Andy Glover, Director of Delivery Engineering at Netflix about how Netflix uses Spinnaker. Andy provided some great software development cultural takeaways in these two videos:

Context over Control + how Spinnaker works inside Netflix:

1) Netflix has a “learning culture” that believes in context over control. Netflix uses Spinnaker to provide a “safe to try” environment that creates  psychological safety inside the organization (via safety nets like canary deployments, 1-click rollbacks, chaos engineering, etc) that Production level access for developers won’t break customer trust and nuke the entire user base when developers ship code. If you’d like to dig further into this topic, I recommend:

2) Spinnaker inside of Netflix is an intelligent software delivery orchestration platform that codifies the culture of software delivery across teams. Andy also talked about how Spinnaker inside Netflix plugs into many proprietary Netflix systems, acting as an intelligent software delivery orchestration platform – and how Armory and others in the community are building a plug-in framework to reproduce this SDLC intelligence in open-source Spinnaker for Global 2,000 enterprises.

“We run open-source Spinnaker, but we’ve customized it a ton to make Netflix developers’ lives easier and more value-add. A lot of those customizations aren’t available in the wild because what we customized against [inside Netflix] itself isn’t open source.” – Andy Glover, Director, Delivery Engineering at Netflix

The Culture of Software Delivery: How every Developer has access to Production at Netflix

In this video, Kate MacAleavey, Armory’s Head of Culture and Leadership Development and I talk with Andy about the overlap between culture and software delivery:

  • How Spinnaker enables a culture of software delivery with a notion of guardrails over gates
  • How Netflix can give all of its developers access to production, and use Spinnaker create a safe to try environment of psychological safety
  • How Spinnaker enables a growth mindset inside companies
  • How Spinnaker enables Netflix to be a learning company
  • How Spinnaker scales engineering concepts like blameless retros across the company by introducing resiliency through chaos engineering to identify issues before they cause a mass-scale breakage of customer trust, and introduce guardrails instead of gates to create a golden path to production
  • How Armory is building a culture that works like Spinnaker
  • How organizations treat complex systems as if they were complicated ones

“About the fear of giving developers freedom: We have a service called API that’s the front door for Netflix for the billions of devices that run Netflix. We show new Netflix employees that ‘you can delete that’… that’s very empowering. As complexity rises, many companies create gates because they don’t trust their people… they put in more rules and rigid things to battle that fear – but what it does is just make people miserable.” – Andy Glover, Director, Delivery Engineering at Netflix

If you’d like to learn more, I recommend Isaac’s Spinnaker Summit keynote on how Spinnaker enables companies to trust their developers.

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