devopsdays2016-5On the 1st and 2nd of December, intelligent and ambitious minds gathered at the SMC Conference hall for the annual DevopsDays Sydney event. Each day was uniquely structured for not only was the exploration of new tools discussed, but also the cultural movement within DevOps. A large focus was upon the relationship between management and engineers as the culture of an organization plays a major role within its successes.

The Strut Digital team got to attend so let us break down the days:

Day 1

Everyone was welcomed with Tea and Coffee as you get registered and receive your ID necklace. From here you head into the main hall as the opening welcome commences. Then the day really starts!

At 9:15 Bridget Kromhout, principal technologist for Cloud Foundry at Pivotal, presented the opening keynote “Containers will not fix your broken culture (and other hard truths)”. It was the talk that set the agenda for the day, as she drew attention to the broken culture and practices of organisations.  Taking no spotlight away from how cutting edge tools are essential to devops, but focusing on the fact that how we implement them, and why we implement them is to be questioned. Bridget linked this perfectly to how we should consider the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of our behaviours, and our organisations choices, not just the ‘what’.

Further elaboration of questioning the devopsdays2016-8‘why’ was explored by Hannah Browne, General Manager of Software Delivery at Cevo, and Steve Mactaggart, an Application Delivery Evangineer at Cevo. Their discussion was titled “Why?: the forgotten word of DevOps”. Their presentation explored 4 key areas:

  • The organisational context that is most likely to support a successful DevOps initiative, what
  • Questions we should be asking and how to discuss them with organisational leaders and non-technical colleagues.
  • How to connect key values generated by DevOps initiatives, with real business issues
  • Why we do all this

The valuable lesson to be considered from Hannah and Steve’s talk is not to always question what DevOps is, but to focus on why we do it in the first place.

Before the first break was scheduled, there was a quick 15-minute brainstorm for the afternoons open spaces. This consisted of people sharing their interests for discussion, which then was voted upon during breaks by fellow participants, initiating which subjects would be explored within the open spaces.

devopsdays2016Morning tea was then provided to fuel our minds. It had only been two talks, but there was already so much to take in. After a mingle and some food we then all headed back into the main hall for Patrick Robinson’s talk “10 rules of automation”. Patrick revealed his automating-gone-wrong experiences, and the valuable lessons learnt from them. He didn’t stop there though, he also went on to explore the common pitfalls of automation such as:

  • Automating error prone processes
  • Choosing the wrong tool
  • Overly complex automation
  • Automating pets
  • Placing your automation at the wrong end of the pipeline

Patrick reminded us that the extreme effectiveness of automation should not be disregarded though; used judiciously, with a well-grounded knowledge of building systems, automation can be a life saver.

Following Patricks talk there was 30 minutes of ignites, a lunch break and an open spaces intro, all leading to the second half of the day that makes DevopsDays so unique; Open Space Sessions.

There were three discussions held simultaneously each session. The topics being discussed were chosen based off the participants votes, therefore, the subjects with the most votes were given a room, where any person could join the conversation and express their thoughts about the topic.

Three Open Space sessions filled the afternoon as they ran for 45-minutes each. The conversation topics ranged from “How to sell the ‘why’ to our organisations” to “Container Orchestration”, delving into all areas of DevOps, connecting the brilliant minds of the DevOps community as they shared ideas and experiences.

The final close and logistics devopsdays2016-10of the first day then farewelled everyone, either leaving you to ponder on the days many discussions on your train trip home, or preparing you for the evening event at Strike Bowling, as people gathered to bowl, sing and chat.

Day 2

As day two’s participants rolled into the conference centre, we were greeted with tea and coffee, allowing all who didn’t register the day before to get settled in and have a recap of the previous day’s events.

The first presentation then commenced at 9:15am with Lindsay Holmwood, Engineering Manager, discussing “Deepening our people, to weather the org”. Like the previous talks from day one, Lindsay drew attention to how DevOps is about changing technical culture. He explored what technical culture looked like, how it survives, and why people are the hardest, yet most important pieces of the puzzle.

Taking a turn for the more technical topics, Peter Hall, Operations Delivery Lead at REA Group, then spoke about “Functions as a Service: Beyond the Rainbow”. Peter raised some interesting questions around Serverless and AWS Lambda such as, what is it really like to live with services without servers? What does this new development Style meant for Development teams? Do we even need dedicated Op’s People etc. To answer these questions Peter shared some of his own experiences and the lessons he learnt with them.

After Peter’s presentation, there was an open space brainstorm for the afternoons sessions, followed by morning tea. Day two was a lot more talk orientated so morning tea was finished up promptly as we went straight into the following presentation.

devopsdays2016-4Mujtaba Hussain, Infrastructure Engineer at Fillr, questioned “Do small data sets dream of big data?”.  Mujtaba expressed how as a start-up you must have a strong understanding upon how your consumers interact with your product to use that to your own advantage and attract more customers. His talk emphasised a lot on open source software, collaboration across the business between UX, engineering and CEO roles, using certain tools to set up data visualisation and an explanation of what Gandalf could’ve learnt from the DevOps Movement.

Continuing the importance of understanding your own environment, Donny Nadolny, Developer at PagerDuty, creatively described his talk as “Three years of breaking things to make them better”. Donny revealed PagerDuty’s weekly exercise known as “Failure Friday”. The exercise uses simple failures like killing a process to expose problems in their systems and alerting. Donny shared how he learnt PagerDuty’s fault injection techniques changed, the best way to start injecting failures in your own environment and how you can use it to improve your software and people.

Upon Donny’s presentation, close, lunch was announced, refuelling day two’s participants for the afternoons open spaces.

Before the afternoon devopsdays2016-2commenced, the closing keynote took place in the main hall. Nigel Kersten who previously worked at Google HQ, and is now transforming Puppet, serving in a variety of roles, presented “Abstractions and Metaphors: words matter in operations”. Nigel explored the interesting linguistic theories around metaphor and abstraction, along with how the metaphors we use shape our thoughts and actions.

The theoretical close was an exceptional way to create interest for the Open Space sessions as another three 45-minute sessions discussed topics such as, “What is traditional project management”, “Building better containers with Habitat”, and so many more.

The closing day and farewell finished Sydney’s DevopsDays, followed with the Conference Retro discussing the pros and cons of the day.

DevopsDay Sydney 2016 was a journey into aspects of culture and cutting edge technology. Both days were structured fantastically with plenty of swag provided by the many sponsors supporting the day. Be sure to get to catch Strut Digital at DevopsDays Sydney 2017!


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