Build & maintain complex distributed systems
October 1–2, 2017: Training
October 2–4, 2017: Tutorials & Conference
New York, NY

Automation run rampant

Kate Deutscher (GreenSync)
1:30pm2:10pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Average rating: ****.
(4.67, 3 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Anyone struggling to support the delivery of their systems

Prerequisite knowledge

  • Experience with continuous integration and continuous delivery

What you'll learn

  • Understand the benefits of investing in delivery automation tooling and how different patterns of tooling can be used to support different business outcomes


Microservices, serverless applications, and containerization are becoming increasingly popular, and engineers are finding themselves responsible for all facets of a rapidly growing number of systems. In this new world, you need to automate as much of the delivery pipeline as possible to ensure that you are still able to release software rapidly, frequently, and reliably.

Kate Deutscher explores common pitfalls to automating software delivery and explains how to find the processes in your delivery pipeline that can benefit the most from automation, focusing on three patterns commonly seen in automation tooling, backed by real-world case studies of when this pattern has worked well—and when it has ended in rampant failure.

  1. The Swiss Army knife: A tool that combines multiple individual functions behind a single simple interface, the Swiss Army knife provides a one-stop shop for the development or delivery process. While this tooling can be fantastic because it’s fast and easy for others to adopt, it also imposes a lot of mandates and shields its users from understanding the low-level details of the actions it’s performing. Kate identifies some key metrics in projects, such as ability to support and need for flexibility, to help engineers identify whether or not the approach could suit their systems.
  2. The screwdriver: A tool that focuses on solving just a single problem, the screwdriver is very small in scope. This tool has the benefits of being flexible and easy to understand but is not always viable. To effectively introduce and maintain this type of tooling, you need to be confident in the ability of the engineers using the tooling to make important decisions that the tool isn’t making and should expect some duplicated effort each time the tool is introduced.
  3. The duct tape: This tooling wraps an existing system to create a consistent interface over one of two things: time or multiple applications. Duct tape tools can be used to reduce the friction or overhead making changes, but you’ll need to be mindful, as these tools become obsolete faster than any other type of tooling and as a result can end up being a burden rather than a benefit.
Photo of Kate Deutscher

Kate Deutscher


Kate Deutscher is technical team lead at GreenSync, where she builds systems to make renewable energy sources reliable. Previously, she worked on a delivery engineering team at, where she focused on building automation tooling that integrates with tech like Docker, AWS, and Kubernetes to make building, packaging, and deploying applications easy, and spent the first six years of her career as a developer, which gives her keen insight into delivery issues and a passion for writing the clean, well-tested, and maintainable code that is often missing from automation tooling. Kate is determined to make a difference by introducing more women into the tech community; she organizes free training events like Rails Girls and DevOps Girls in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia.