Low Context DevOps: Improving SRE Team Culture through Defaults, Documentation, and Discipline

Tuesday, December 08, 2020 - 12:15 pm12:55 pm

Tom Limoncelli, Stack Overflow, Inc.


A low-context SRE culture is one where the info you need to do your job is available, visible, and accessible. Creating a low-context culture improves remote teamwork, new-hire onboarding, enables project hopping, and helps you better handle a page you receive at 2 am.

A high-context SRE culture is one where most knowledge is unspoken, or people depend on history/experience rather than explicit telling. This can be very frustrating for new employees and a disaster in a "remote only"/COVID-19 team.

You'd rather work in a low-context SRE culture right? I'll explain how to lower the context using (1) the power of defaults, (2) "make right easy", and (3) a culture of ubiquitous documentation. I conclude with ways to get people to write documentation (even if they hate writing documentation).

Tom Limoncelli, Stack Overflow, Inc.

Tom an internationally recognized author, speaker, system administrator, and DevOps advocate. He manages the SRE teams at Stack Overflow, Inc, and previously worked at Google, Bell Labs/Lucent, AT&T, and others. His books include Time Management for System Administrators (O'Reilly), The Practice of System and Network Administration (3rd edition), and The Practice of Cloud System Administration. In 2005, he received the USENIX SAGE Outstanding Achievement Award.

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@inproceedings {262180,
author = {Tom Limoncelli},
title = {Low Context DevOps: Improving {SRE} Team Culture through Defaults, Documentation, and Discipline},
booktitle = {SREcon20 Americas (SREcon20 Americas)},
year = {2020},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/srecon20americas/presentation/limoncelli},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
month = dec,

Presentation Video