The Visible Ops Handbook

Visible Ops is a handbook designed to jump start implementation of controls and process improvement in IT organizations needing to increase service levels, decrease costs, and increase security and auditability. Visible Ops describes four prescriptive and self-fueling steps to take an organization from any starting point to a continually improving, controlled process.

After 6 years and 120,000 copies sold, Visible Ops is now considered an IT “cult classic”. Even at DevOps events, where those responsible for rapidly changing web applications update production multiple times per day, Visible Ops is held up as one of the few books that should be on any IT professional’s “must read” list. If you haven’t already, buy and read now.


Who should read it?

The Visible Ops Handbook provides useful guidelines and a prescriptive roadmap for organizations beginning or continuing their IT process improvement journey. It includes methodology that both IT and business stakeholders can readily understand. The audience for Visible Ops includes IT operations, development, IT security, internal and external audit, and datacenter executive management. It is also a great, condensed reference for the business executive wanting to better understand common issues and best practices related to management of critical IT systems.


Visible Ops is the result of more than three years of studying high-performing IT operations and security organizations by the ITPI. Visible Ops illustrates how interested organizations might replicate the processes of these high-performing organizations in just four steps. Each of these steps has the following characteristics:

Phase 1 – Stabilize Patient, Modify First Response

Almost 80% of outages are self-inflicted. The first step is to control risky changes and reduce MTTR by addressing how changes are managed and how problems are resolved.

Phase 2 – Catch and Release, Find Fragile Artifacts

Often, infrastructure exists that cannot be repeatedly replicated. In this step, we inventory assets, configurations, and services to identify those with the lowest change success rates, highest MTTR and highest business downtime costs.

Phase 3 – Establish Repeatable Build Library

The highest return on investment is implementing effective release management processes. This step creates repeatable builds for the most critical assets and services, to make it “cheaper to rebuild than to repair.”

Phase 4 – Enable Continuous Improvement

The previous steps have progressively built a closed-loop between the Release, Control and Resolution processes. This step implements metrics to allow continuous improvement of all of these process areas, to best ensure that business objectives are met.

Each step is designed to be:

  • Definitive – each step is a project, with a clearly defined objective and exit criteria.
  • Ordered – each step is specifically designed to build upon the previous step.
  • Catalytic – returns more resources to the organization than it consumed, thus fueling the next step.
  • Sustaining – creates enough value to the organization that the processes developed remain in place, even if the initial driving forces behind its implementation disappear.
  • Auditable – provides auditable evidence that preventive and detective controls are working and are effective.

What Readers Are Saying

“It’s common sense approach and very readable style give this book a mandatory place in the library of any IT manager”

“Without doubt, each of the four steps they outlined have value and are well supported.”

“The Visible Ops Handbook is the Rosetta Stone that the IT industry and its leadership have been seeking.”

“Finally, a “Best Practice” that is based upon research and industry knowledge.”