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Free Microsoft DevOps Strategy Event Coming to Cities Across the US

by Angela 27. February 2017 16:49

This looks like a really great event if your organization is still trying to wrap its head around what DevOps really means and how to get started, particularly if you’re already investing heavily in Microsoft technologies. Please note, this is going to focus on high level strategy and business focused DevOps discussions, if you’re looking for something more hands-on, stay tuned. I’ll be sharing more events soon.

If events like these get you excited about moving forward but you’re still not confident to go it alone, reach out to us! Polaris has helped a number of their clients to quickly jumpstart their DevOps initiatives through a combination of agile coaching and immersive adoption of modern tools and proven, leading practices!

Hope to see you there,

~Angela

 

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In support of your pursuit towards Digital Transformation and harnessing digital technology for organizational success, we invite you to learn how Microsoft’s platforms and tools can provide you efficiencies at scale while delivering application experiences that will truly delight your employees and customers.

Microsoft’s Cloud Application Development team is hosting a new event “The 360 on Innovative Applications” in 12 cities across the USA. We want you to be able to walk away with a 360 degree view of how you can architect and maintain applications with DevOps processes so that you can delight your customers and employees, provide an entirely new level of insights, and create a development environment that supports your LOB stakeholders in driving business agility.

 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

Sr. Development, IT and Data Professionals who are interested in identifying how they can move their organization forward by implementing DevOps practices, tools and adoption of the newest application architecture and functionality that can differentiate their organization from their competitors.  We suggest that you forward this to your colleagues who would be working with you on implementing this transformation. Please note: This is ‘NOT’ a hands on lab boot camp!

We hope that you will take the time to register today, and ask that you please extend this invite to your peers!

 

Agenda:

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Locations:

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Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | DevOps | Visual Studio Team Services | Visual Studio | TFS | Team Foundation Server | Application Insights

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Fear, A Major Speed Bump on the Road to Quality

by Angela 3. February 2017 22:26

I warned you that I’d be blogging about the “messiness” of ALM and DevOps consulting. And this is a long one so grab a cup of coffee, tea, or cocktail of your choice (whatever I won’t judge). It’s actually based on something I wrote for the QAI Quest Magazine. If you haven’t checked out the CQAA (Chicago Quality Assurance Association) community or their upcoming QUEST conference in Chicago this April, I highly recommend it!

Anyway, here is the article:

A large part of my job as a scrum master and agile coach is focusing on quality. Quality of process, quality of teams, and quality of software. While all of these can be challenging to improve, one of the hardest to tackle is quality of the team. I’m not talking about individual’s skillsets, although that is important. I’m talking about the ability of the team to work together as a WHOLE. In my experience, teams that cannot accomplish this cannot produce a quality product. Missed requirements, sloppy handoffs, miscommunication of what is “done”, and a host of other issues arise when the team just can’t seem to come together in a truly open and collaborative environment. Causes for this failure are complex and will vary from team to team. But one that I run into time and time again is fear. Yes, fear!

I’m not a psychologist and I don’t purport to know all the answers, but I can speak from experience - both in terms of myself and what I see in others. I have seen fear manifest itself in the following situations:

· Underestimating feature delivery times to hide a lack of confidence, often leading to painful sprint reviews when committed features aren’t delivered on time, or not at all.

· Code being integrated too soon to avoid being late, resulting in bugs “leaking” into production.

· Misunderstood requirements being implemented without question, and promptly being rejected by QA or a frustrated product owner.

· Resentment when team members feel someone is not pulling their weight, when in reality that person is silently struggling.

· Failure by team members to ask for clarification because everyone else surely must “get it”.

The fear of being seen as not good enough or smart enough by our peers is real and pervasive in IT. Ironically, the end result of hiding our struggles is often working extra hours and even cutting corners to make the unrealistic deadlines that we set for ourselves. This inevitably leads to doing the very thing we are fearful of … letting people down.

Tying this back to quality:

· Imagine if the team was afraid to admit that a requirement was vague, that it would be extremely complex to develop, or almost impossible to adequately test.

· Imagine if they assumed they’d figure it out as they go and plowed ahead.

· Imagine if someone on the team rushed to complete a feature and skimped on testing to prevent blowing their estimates because of fear of retribution for being wrong.

You probably don’t have to imagine it. It’s likely happening on your team right now but no one is talking about it! So, what can you do once you’ve realized that fear is holding you or your team back? What I have learned on my own journey is that it’s not enough to recognize when I am acting from a place of fear; I also have to recognize it in others. And much like quality, it is EVERYONE’S responsibility to create a collaborative and supportive environment.

As a Scrum Master, here are some of the things that I ask myself in order to help address fear on my teams.

· Is someone new to the team, or to their role, and clearly feeling overwhelmed or struggling to fit in?

· Is someone is hesitating to speak up when they clearly have a strong opinion or idea?

· Are people afraid of being judged harshly or told their idea is “crazy” or “dumb” in a team setting?

 

Now, that’s a lot of stuff to keep an eye on. (Hey…no one ever said that being the Scrum Master was an easy job.) So, let’s say that you notice something. What do you do about it? How do you head-off fear and/or actually do something about it?

Well, if someone on the team shares a concern or asks for help, be sure to thank them for bringing it up and offer them support, or try to connect them with someone who can. If people are hesitant to speak up in a large group setting, approach them after the meeting, and discuss it in a more casual environment. If they need some encouragement or support, find a way to share their ideas with the team in a less intimidating way. Find ways to bring new team members on-board and make them feel connected quickly. Make sure no one is discouraging open and honest conversation by dominating conversations or by openly criticizing ideas or opinions, even jokingly. Joking, while good natured, can be misconstrued as criticism, and simply telling a teammate that they “just can’t take a joke” is a great way to alienate them and ensure their participation in future activities is limited. Besides, some of the biggest discoveries in history started with an original premise that was totally out there!

I’ve given talks on fear at a number of conferences, and every time people have approached me afterwards saying “I feel that way too. It’s so good to know I am not alone!” Research shows that around 70% of people struggle with these kinds of fears, and based on my experience, it is higher in IT! That means that in any given meeting you attend, MOST of the people in the room are afraid to share their thoughts for fear of negative consequences. Imagine all of the great ideas being squandered and land mines we are failing to avoid.

Hopefully you’re already thinking of ways to improve the quality of your team, and ultimately of the products you are delivering. Strive to be more vigilant, more supportive, more honest, and you will be well on your way to creating a high-quality and high-performing team!

 

If you’re attending quest, I also have a few sessions there that you may want to check out if this article spoke to you.

Getting Your Agile Team Unstuck! Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Common Agile Setbacks: http://qaiquest.org/2017/sessions/half-day-tutorial-getting-your-agile-team-unstuck-tips-and-tricks-for-avoiding-common-agile-setbacks/

Fear and (Self) Loathing in IT: A Healthy Discussion on Imposter Syndrome: http://qaiquest.org/2017/sessions/fear-and-self-loathing-in-it-a-healthy-discussion-on-imposter-syndrome/ 

And if you’re not attending Quest feel free to send me a message via this blog or on Twitter!

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ALM and DevOps Focused Consulting is Messy

by Angela 13. January 2017 17:56

Lately I have been hearing this a lot, both as a general statement and more often than not, as a lament. However you define ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) and DevOps (definition hotly being debated in board rooms everywhere), and lord knows there are 82 ways to define each of those terms, they have a common thread – people. And people are messy. We are emotional, unpredictable, and our motivations are not always obvious. So of course consulting in any area that heavily involves interactions with people - like ALM and DevOps - will also be messy. I don’t mean that as a criticism, it’s just a fact. I also don’t just mean working with OTHER people is messy, working with *me* is messy. Some days, I am a tired, hormonal, hot damn mess, and that’s OK. You probably are too once in a while. As long as we all agree to help each other out on those hopefully rare bad days…and yes I am in fact advocating that even in IT we have to get our hands dirty and support our coworkers in ways that don’t involve pull requests or PowerShell.

So where am I going with this? Well, a lot of places eventually, my hope is to start a series of blog posts where I veer from my technically focused topics to even harder stuff – people stuff. And I make no promises on consistency of how often I release those posts, or how many I’ll be writing. Something I struggle with is fear of disappointing people, and as a serial over-committer I’m starting this series off by NOT over-committing. Look, progress, already!

Not sure where I’ll go first, but likely I’ll start with something <sarcasm> light and fun </sarcasm> around failure and vulnerability. I’ve actually blogged about both of those topics before, but it’s been a while, and I’ve learned a lot since then. Mostly about myself, but in a lot of cases I can apply some of those learnings to others as well. I’ve also been working with a really great life/career coach for about 15 months now, and I’ll share some of that experience here as well. Approaching terrifying vulnerability territory there, but like my friend Ben says, a great way to really hone your coaching skills is to see a therapist!

If you have requests, let me know! I cannot guarantee I’ll be able to address every topic with absolute clarity and wisdom, but I’ll do my best to at least share my experiences and ideas. Talk to you again soon.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | DevOps | Imposter syndrome | soft skills | Fear | Consulting

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2 Day Azure Tech Summit in Chicago Next Week

by Angela 11. January 2017 15:20

Just found out about a great event coming to Chicago next week, which lasts two full days and will be held at McCormick Place. If you’re not local, be sure to check out their schedule as they are hitting a number of other cities in the US and across the globe!

This is a free, two-day technical training for IT professionals and developers delivered by the experts who build the cloud services across Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Windows 10. There are 70+ technical sessions, you’ll get a chance to pick the brains of Microsoft engineers, and there are even hands-on-labs available on-site, so lots of opportunities to get your hands dirty at this one! Alas, I will not be able to attend this event, but hopefully you can. Get registered today to secure your spot!

More details below…

 

Keynote

Hear how Microsoft’s enterprise solutions can help you be more successful, more productive and add value to your IT organization in today’s digital transformation landscape. In Chicago, the Keynote is being given by Jason Zander, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Azure, Cloud + Enterprise!

 
Sessions

Over 70 technical training sessions covering a range of topics across Microsoft Azure and the hybrid platform including security, networking, data, storage, identity, mobile, cloud infrastructure, management, DevOps, app platform, productivity, collaboration and more.

 
Ask the experts

Access hundreds of Microsoft engineers and tech leaders ready to help you tackle your toughest dilemmas—they’re up for the challenge.

 
Hands-on labs

Go beyond the sessions, take a test drive of the latest technology with cloud services across Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Windows 10.

 

The agenda is far too robust to put in a blog post but here is the high level snapshot of what you can expect:

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A FAR more detailed agenda can be found on the event website: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/techsummit/chicago.aspx

Tags:

Azure | Cloud Computing | DevOps | Windows 10 | Office 365

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Get Registered for ST Louis DevUP Before Tickets Sell Out

by Angela 13. September 2016 14:27

You may be thinking, what the heck is St Louis DevUp. Well, previously you may have known this conference as St. Louis Days of .NET.  The conference is about a LOT more than just .NET, and has a shiny, new name to boot. I’m especially excited about the Next Generation Process and Tools track, but I might be biased Winking smile The full session list has been posted, so start marking your favorites, it’s going to be a hard choice this year!

We have some awesome, seasoned speaker talking about agile, scrum, test automation, DevOps, development, data data data, and so much more,  And there are a TON of tracks to choose from:

Web Development JavaScript Development Mobile Development
DevOps Automation & Tooling Data Everywhere! Quick, Yet Correct
The Modern Day Architect Soaring to the Cloud Next Generation Cloud
Next Generation Processes & Tools Career & Soft Skills Cool & Fun

 

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Chicago Coder Conference is Next Week! Hope to see you there

by Angela 1. June 2016 16:41

There are a lot of conferences in Chicago this summer, well I suppose technically it’s still spring but from these temps you’d never know it! Anyway, I was invited to speak at Chicago Coder Conference this year (not to be confused with the awesome CCC = Chicago Code Camp conference), and I’d never really considered it before.  With all of the other conferences I am involved in and speaking at, it just hadn’t made the cut. I recently checked out their session list and holy cow are there some great people speaking, including a few of my coworkers. There is even a full day of hands-on sessions where you can dig in deep. It’s an seriously action-lacked 3 days. A few of the bigger names you might recognize are Doc Norton, Uncle Bob Martin, and Joel Tosi.

Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the great topics being presented by some of the folks at Polaris Solutions, including yours truly:

 

Steven Contos

June 7, 2016 - Session 1 – Coding the Most Complex “Hello World” Program Ever Written and More Hyperbole

Room 600 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 AM

Florin Ciobanu

June 6, 2016 - Session 1 – Xamarin! The Babel Fish in the Developer’s Guide to the Mobile Apps

Room 621 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 PM

Kevin Fitzpatrick

June 6, 2016 - Session 4 – Dear Coder: The Problem is Over Here!

Room 600 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM

Angela Dugan

June 7, 2016 - Lunch & Learn – Improve your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen!

Room 621 from 12:15 PM  -  1:15 PM

June 7, 2016  - Session 4 – Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework

Room 404 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM

 

It’s not too late to sign up, and I may still have some discount codes I can share if you want to get in on it.  If you are interested, hit me up through the contact link on my blog for more info!

And while you’re in the mood to check out AMAZING local conferences, be sure to check out ThatConference!  I wrote a blog post about it here, including a great overview and some pictures. Check it out.  Hope to see you at Chicago Coder Conference next week, and at ThatConference in August!

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Chicago DevOps Community Roadshow–April 2016 Recap

by Angela 22. April 2016 09:41

Last week myself and some of my favorite community leaders and MVPs were able to deliver a free community event focusing on DevOps practices and tools thanks to the generosity of Microsoft. Not only did Microsoft provide the great venue for free, but they also supplied the funding that covered a great hot breakfast, beverages, and a Microsoft Band 2 for the raffle!

2016-04-15 07.26.31

We had over 100 people register, and people started trickling in early. We had a surprising number of enthusiastic attendees already seated and ready for Jim’s 8:30am keynote!

2016-04-15 08.37.10

Next we had some great talks by Landan, Erik, Chris, Min, and Greg. Topics included continuous integration with Visual Studio and TFS 2015, environment provisioning and DSC with Azure, release management with TFS RM and Octopus Deploy, and metrics and monitoring with Application Insights and SonarQube.

2016-04-15 08.50.042016-04-15 09.43.392016-04-15 10.54.122016-04-15 11.22.08

 

There was a lot of great discussion, some awesome demos, and everyone had a great time. Thanks again to my rock star team - Eric Boyd, Landan Rotter, Angela Dugan, Greg Levenhagen, Chris Taylor, Jim Szubryt, and Min Maung - who seems to not really like any of us enough to stand next to us Smile

2016-04-15 12.57.28-1

Slides from the event are still being uploaded, but you’ll be able to access everything here. Thanks again for attending, and if you didn’t make it and would like to learn more about any of these topics, shout at me on email (via the link at the bottom of this blog post) or twitter and I’ll connect you with the right people!

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Join Polaris at the QAI QUEST Conference in Chicago Next Month

by Angela 22. March 2016 12:15

Next month, the Quality Assurance Institute brings the Quest conference back to Chicago. Quest is the Quality Engineered Software and Testing Conference & EXPO, and it’s a fantastic place to network and learn about the latest trends in quality assurance, team collaboration, and software delivery. From the website:

LEARN - ASSESS - APPLY - CONNECT

QUEST 2016 Conference is the best source for new technologies and proven methods for Quality Engineered Software and Testing. Thought leaders, evangelists, innovative practitioners, and IT professionals from across North America gather together for a week packed with classes, tutorials, educational sessions, hand-on workshops, discussions groups, EXPO, and networking events. Let your quest to build, test, and deliver quality software begin with QUEST 2016! You’ll see sessions around topics such as Agile, Leadership, Measurement, Test Design, Automation, Open Source, Performance, Test Data, Mobile, Security, DevOps, And More… Check out the conference schedule here.

Chris Taylor and yours truly will be delivering a number of sessions at the conference including:

 

I’ll also be speaking at the Manager’s Workshop. I’m excited to have an opportunity to participate in this. I’ve attended in years past as an attendee, and it’s an awesome opportunity to network and learn from peers and thought leaders about some of the things we all struggle with in the software business.

I hope you can attend the conference and perhaps even stop by one of our sessions! Register here while tickets are still available.

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FREE Half Day DevOps Community Roadshow Event in Chicago on April 15th

by Angela 18. March 2016 12:32

Everyone seems to be asking for "better DevOps" these days, but admittedly it's hard to pin down exactly what that means, and to complicate things even more, it seems to mean different things to different people. Is it about people? Is it about processes and practices? Is it about tools? Is it about culture? Yes, all of these things and more! 

This event is focused on some great tools and a few key practices, because we only have 4 hours and we'd probably need a week to tackle everything we'd really like to :)  We'll be talking about Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Team Services, Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Application Insights, and even some tools you might not expect at a Microsoft event like SonarQube, Octopus Deploy, and Chef! Because let's be honest, our tool belts are overflowing these days, and sometimes it's hard to know which ones are the best one for the job. To that end, we've assembled a fantastic team of local MVPs and technical community leads with loads of experience tackling the various challenges that we all face in the quest for "good DevOps", whatever that means. Check out the agenda below to see more details about what topics they'll be talking about, and be sure to stick around for the raffle of a Microsoft Band 2!

As an added bonus, we're even buying you breakfast! Real breakfast too, with bacon, sausage, eggs, and OJ, not just bagels and coffee. Seating is limited, so please be sure to register to secure your spot today.

This event is being organized and run by some of most passionate folks in the community that I know including Angela Dugan(me!), Chris Taylor, Eric Boyd, Greg Levenhagen, Jim Szubryt, Landan Rotter, and Min Maung. Join us next month for this free, half day event in downtown Chicago to explore DevOps and Azure!

Head on over to Eventbrite today for more details and to get registered!

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Free Chicagoland Event on April 7th - Azure and the Modern Datacenter

by Angela 7. March 2016 08:34

This looks like an awesome free event being put on by one of my talented local peers, Michael Blumenthal, who is a Microsoft MVP (Office Servers and Services).  Wanted to make sure everyone knew about it since it is jam packed with a full day of sessions given by some really great speakers:

What:

Microsoft Azure Cloud Infrastructure allows IT Operations to maximize current resources. But how can you assure security, control, reliability, and scalability? Attend this full day event to learn how to integrate cloud solutions with existing on-premises solutions to enhance datacenter flexibility to deploy new technologies. Explore advanced Azure infrastructure services that enable you to provide reliable data access while maximizing productivity across platforms—third-party, Open Source (OSS), and Microsoft.

Join us to explore:

  • What’s new in Cloud Infrastructure and Microsoft Azure.
  • How to leverage a public cloud solution to increase reliability of disaster recovery using Azure Site Recovery.
  • Faster and easier deployment using Azure Resource Manager templates and GIT.
  • How to design compute and storage infrastructure to improve performance and enhance security through Azure Networking infrastructure.
  • Secure data access with identity solutions via Azure Active Directory.
  • How to deploy applications using Containers and what advantages this provides.

 

Click here to register and for a more detailed agenda

When: Thursday, April 7, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (CDT) - Add to Calendar
Where: Arlington Lakes Golf Club - 1211 New Wilke Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60005 - View Map
Audience:  IT operations/infrastructure professionals

Tags:

Azure | Cloud Computing | git | DevOps

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