If DevOps hit the stock exchange tomorrow it would be sure to see brisk trading, these days many are selling, and even more are buying. That’s a curious thing given they barely agree on what DevOps is or means. So, despite a long term interest (you might even say passion) for DevOps I must say I was slightly cynical as I headed out to DevOpsDays in Warsaw. Would I find baffling tools and tech? Epic stories of triumph and failure? Pushy sales people high on their own Kool Aid?
Michael Ducy (Chef) started proceedings and soon shook off my latent cynicism with his ‘Changing Behavior of IT’ talk. He whistled through a brief history of DevOps and then on to pertinent topics like value stream mapping, flow, elastic demand and automation. He took time to introduce the concept of ‘rouge IT’, apparently not to be confused with ‘rogue IT’. He encouraged the crowd to “Assume everything you’re doing is wrong”, a great mantra, providing it doesn’t lead to building from the ground up every time.
Following that there were some great talks, too many to call out here. Piotr Baranowski’s memorable opening gambit was: “I hate you guys”, a neat way to frame his experiences in operations. Andrzej Grzesik talked about introducing Chef to his organisation, and the challenges of building trust to further change. Zoltan Toth and Julianna Göbölös-Szabó from Prezi were honest and informative sharing their experiences building a petabyte scale infrastructure. Rafal Kuc talked on log centralisation, reminding us that “logs are as important as business data, they are real data that will help solve problems”.
There were more eclectic talk themes too: Roman Pavlyuk explained how he took DevOps principles and applied them at home, leading to him holding his local electricity supplier to account for poor quality service. Grzegorz Nosek took lessons from the simplicity of military hardware, and how they apply to DevOps.
My own talk was titled ‘DevOps do not exceed the recommended dose’. It encouraged people to carefully consider their context, challenges and goals, before investing heavily in DevOps tools and ways of working. Like so many other good things it is easy to consume too much, not see an improvement, or make maters worse.
Something that characterises DevOps Days is the spirit of community contribution and collaboration. In addition to set talks there are open spaces, lightening talks and opportunities for networking. Some opportunities are traditional, like break times and beers, and some less so, like Kainos’ sponsored table football tournament.
The event organisers did a fine job selecting talks that balanced the major concerns of DevOps. These are often framed with a simple acronym, which belies the complexity of the constituent subjects; CLAMS. Culture, Learning, Automation and Sharing, or Collaboration, Lean, Automation, Measurement, Sharing. That’s another definition people don’t quite agree on, or maybe it’s just evolving with current thinking. Talks are often centered on a few key questions:
• What does DevOps actually bring to people and organisations?
• Which tools are useful for particular jobs?
• How do you use them? (often in considerable depth!)
• How do roles and expectations change?
• How can we further collaboration between technical groups?
• How can we encourage organisations’ to support change, and improve?
Thanks to Mateusz Paszkiewicz for the photos.