Keynote: Glue Work Makes the Dream Work

A presentation at DevOpsDays Texas 2021 by Taylor Barnett

Today, our systems are made up of a patchwork of tools and services from different companies. We no longer need to be experts outside of our core business model. Companies now make it relatively accessible and affordable to use everything as a service, rather than creating everything from scratch. The days of running your own SMTP server are gone; there’s an API for that. But how did we get here, and where do we go from here? Most importantly, how do we connect this patchwork of tools and services together without wanting to pull our hair out while also dealing with a whole new set of challenges with external services?

In this talk, we will discuss the importance of glue work today, which is often both underutilized and undervalued, while developing and operating software compared to previous decades. We will also learn how to elevate glue work’s value and utilization and explore how to use glue work to improve the development or operational experience.



The following resources were mentioned during the presentation or are useful additional information.

  • Talk: Technical leadership and glue work - Tanya Reilly

    Tanya Reilly popularized the term “glue work” in this talk and got me thinking a lot about the non-code (in the very literal sense) part to glue work. I recommend watching it!

  • Blog post: The Future of Ops Careers - Charity Majors

    When I read this piece by Charity Majors, it confirmed a lot of the trends I had been seeing in infrastructure work and across the industry as a whole. If you want to dig into how to prepare for this new future, read this post.

  • Blog post: The Developer Experience Gap - Stephen O’Grady

    I reference the “five adjectives that will describe the next generation of developer experience” from this post in the talk.

  • Blog post: The supply chain of software - Jeff Lawson

    Anyone who is paid attention to APIs in the last decade has seen the rise of Twilio. One of the Twilio’s co-founders and CEO, Jeff Lawson’s piece on the software supply chain is both interesting and nicely lays out why “component software is the next big leap in the industry’s evolution.”

  • OpenAPI Specification

    The OpenAPI Specification (formerly known as Swagger) defines a standard, programming language-agnostic interface description for HTTP APIs, which allows both humans and computers to discover and understand the capabilities of a service without requiring access to source code, additional documentation, or inspection of network traffic. When properly defined via OpenAPI, a consumer can understand and interact with the remote service with a minimal amount of implementation logic. Similar to what interface descriptions have done for lower-level programming, the OpenAPI Specification removes guesswork in calling a service.

  • Transposit

    You’ve got the building blocks, we’ve got the glue. Bring your entire stack together and replace static wiki pages with codified processes. From incident response to service requests, Transposit helps teams operate like a finely-tuned machine. Also, where I work. :)

  • API Specifications Conference

    Coming back again in Fall 2021! OpenAPI Initiative’s API Specifications Conference (ASC) is a place for API practitioners to come together and discuss the evolution of API technology. ASC includes cutting edge technology keynotes and sessions that chart the future of APIs with in-depth specification and standards discussions. OpenAPI Specifications, RAML, Blueprint, gRPC, OData, JSON Schema, GraphQL, AsyncAPI and other formats will all be topics at the event, enabling attendees to get familiar with these formats and discuss how to use them in practice.

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