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16 DevOps books to level up your skills

Is your organization and IT staff ready to tackle DevOps, from culture to strategies and toolchains? Start with these 16 books from learning DevOps basics to fine-tuning specific DevOps skills and practices.

Books are a vital resource for professional development of IT skills and practices. With so many to choose from, it can be a challenge to know which ones to reach for.

Our recommended DevOps books fall into three categories. The first collection is broadly about DevOps, suitable for beginners to experts in a wide range of roles. The second set of books focuses on particular areas of DevOps, including site reliability engineering, continuous integration/continuous delivery, and DevSecOps. And the final set highlights tools and code languages that aspiring DevOps practitioners will want to be familiar with.

1. The Unicorn Project: A Novel About Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data

Published in 2019, The Unicorn Project is Gene Kim's sequel to the wildly popular 2013 book, The Phoenix Project, with co-authors George Spafford and Kevin Behr. Arguably the most popular DevOps books published to date, these novels portray a fictional DevOps implementation, complete with mistakes and complications. They present methodology in clear and simple terms. While the first book followed the perspective of an IT manager, The Unicorn Project views the same project from a software engineer's perspective to portray DevOps' nuances and interplay between different IT roles.

2. The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations

This introductory-level book by Patrick Debois, Gene Kim, John Willis and Jez Humble is a nearly 500-page guide to help IT professionals introduce DevOps practices and goals -- no matter how large an organization is or how old its legacy applications might be. The handbook addresses a plethora of job roles and DevOps knowledge and was intended to remain relevant long after its 2016 publication date.

3. Effective DevOps: Building a Culture of Collaboration, Affinity, and Tooling at Scale

Effective DevOps, written by Jennifer Davis and Ryn Daniels and published in 2016 by O'Reilly, illustrates to readers why DevOps transformations must occur within an organization, and not be directed by an external consultant. While outside experts can provide valuable insight and feedback, they can also accelerate a DevOps implementation beyond the abilities of the organization's IT staff -- which leads to aggravation and reluctance to participate.

4. Just Culture: Balancing Safety and Accountability

This 2012 book by IT professional Sidney Dekker is a relatively short 200 pages, and focuses intensely on organizational culture and the danger of "blame." A blameless DevOps culture ensures open and truthful discussion of issues and failures, with no fear of retribution. Just Culture emphasizes that most DevOps problems can be traced back to a cultural problem, and that organizations should equally emphasize learning and accountability.

5. DevOps: A Complete Beginner's Guide to DevOps Best Practices

This DevOps basics book, written by Jim Lewis and published in 2019, takes readers through the principles and tools they'll encounter as they hone their DevOps expertise. This is among the most recently released books on our list, and builds on the industry's embrace of DevOps over the past 10 years.

6. The DevOps Adoption Playbook: A Guide to Adopting DevOps in a Multi-Speed IT Enterprise

Sanjeev Sharma's book offers practical, real-world guidance for large organizations, which, unlike nimble startups, need specialized or modified approaches to modernize existing infrastructure and improve internal culture. The DevOps Adoption Playbook aims to provide these large organizations with a clear resource to combat their unique DevOps challenges.

7. Achieving DevOps: A Novel About Delivering the Best of Agile, DevOps, and Microservices

Like Gene Kim's two books, Achieving DevOps, written by Dave Harrison and Knox Lively, is a fictionalized case study of a DevOps adoption process that addresses how to overcome significant problems that prevent a DevOps implementation. Readers are shown examples of how to address their organizations' inefficiencies and progress-halting processes, as the protagonist tackles technical debt, poor project handoffs and inefficient team communication -- and that's just the beginning.

8. Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise

Gary Gruver's third book applies the metaphor of blind men and an elephant to describe how DevOps demands a wealth of experiences and perspectives to fully capture the complexities and challenges of a DevOps implementation, particularly in large organizations. This 2016 book helps organizations determine where to start and how to scale DevOps best practices.

9. Securing DevOps: Security in the Cloud

DevSecOps is a popular configuration of DevOps with a specific goal: Bake security into every level of an application's or infrastructure's setup and build. It's not enough to protect only the outer layer of the environment because a truly dedicated hacker will find a way in -- and it only takes one successful intrusion to obtain full access to the enterprise's kingdom. In Securing DevOps, published in 2018, Julien Vehent covers DevOps security from a barebones pipeline up through the various layers of a stack, from a web app down through cloud infrastructure, communication and delivery.

10. Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation

This introductory-level book, published in 2010, focuses on continuous delivery and how it benefits organizations, as well as how to start a continuous delivery pipeline within the reader's IT organization. Authors Jez Humble and David Farley cover everything from the foundation upward into the necessary configurations of the organization's IT ecosystem. Continuous delivery is integral to DevOps adoption and release cadence speeds, so this book fills in a key knowledge area for DevOps practitioners.

11. Site Reliability Engineering: How Google Runs Production Systems

This 2016 book by authors Niall Richard Murphy, Betsy Beyer, Chris Jones and Jennifer Petoff tackles a practice developed and coined by Google that takes a slightly different tack to DevOps and site reliability, although the two are intrinsically tied. The book is specific to Google's practices, but it emphasizes why app engineers should focus more on software's use than its implementation.

12. Fundamentals of Software Architecture: An Engineering Approach

This is a book for IT professionals who want to transition into a software architect role. Mark Richards and Neal Ford explain what software architecture is and entails, from characteristics and patterns to diagramming and evolutionary planning.

13. Learning DevOps: The complete guide to accelerate collaboration with Jenkins, Kubernetes, Terraform and Azure DevOps

Although this 2019 title from Mikael Krief encompasses far more than infrastructure as code, IaC takes center stage. When underlying structures are codified, an organization can improve deployment speed, security and automation.

14. Python for DevOps: Learn Ruthlessly Effective Automation

Python is one of the most commonly used code and scripting languages in modern IT. In this in-depth 2019 tome, Noah Gift, Kennedy Behrman, Alfredo Deza and Grig Gheorghiu teach readers how to use Python to write scripts for containerized environments, as well as to monitor, test and operate software.

15. Ansible: Up and Running

Ansible is among the top configuration management DevOps tools on the market, used widely and flexibly across major cloud platforms and supported by a variety of application and tool types. This 2017 guide by Lorin Hochstein and Rene Moser, written largely in tutorial format, walks readers through playbook creation and management, as well as how to manage remote servers through a declarative configuration model.

16. Kubernetes in Action

Kubernetes is one of the most important DevOps tools in modern IT. It is designed to manage container deployments at scale, on premises or in hybrid or full cloud hosting environments, in either its pure open source format or a specialized, managed distribution. This 2018 book from Marko Luksa explains Kubernetes from basic containerization principles to how to build a container deployment, so that even professionals who have yet to touch a container will know how to get started.

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