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Case Study: How Shifting to a DevOps Culture Enabled Performance and Capacity Improvements

Greg Burton (Orbitz Worldwide), Ori Rawlings (Orbitz Worldwide)
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Starting from our vantage point in a traditional development team, we originally saw site capacity as a distant, Operations issue. As we adjusted our perspective and took ownership of site capacity targets, we began a year of close collaboration and delightful discoveries that improved capacity dramatically. We sympathized with the frustration of database operations engineers who intuitively knew that applications were inefficiently hitting the database. We sympathized with Site Operations engineers who intuitively knew that our lack of rigorous performance testing meant that each release could introduce new inefficiencies that would go undetected.

The foundation of our work was a commitment to building and using a performance testing environment. Everything is a hypothesis until there are results to prove it. This foundation underlay our methodical approach to tuning JVM’s or SQL queries, which yielded enormous benefits. By methodically applying Development solutions to Operations issues, we unlocked new opportunities in an organization that had come to rely on horizontal scaling as the primary approach to increasing capacity.

In this case study, we describe the latent conditions that made our organization open-minded to a cultural shift, which is notoriously difficult to do in an organization with an established culture. The shift occurred slowly and organically as relationships between Development and Operations teams grew deeper and stronger. Our commitment to the DevOps transition was continuously reinforced as the cultural shift took hold and began bearing fruit.

Photo of Greg Burton

Greg Burton

Orbitz Worldwide

Greg Burton began his career as a digital hardware application designer, but later shifted into his current role as a back-end software developer at Orbitz Worldwide. His current focus is site stability, scalability, and performance, and he leverages his previous experience in a wide variety of engineering organizations to find fruitful collaborations that further these goals.

Photo of Ori Rawlings

Ori Rawlings

Orbitz Worldwide

Ori Rawlings is a Senior Software Engineer in the Hotel Infrastructure and Platform team at Orbitz Worldwide. His current focus is site stability, scalability, and performance.