Devopsdays London November 2013

The second Devopsdays of 2013 in London wrapped up this afternoon after a packed schedule of talks, openspaces and socialising. As at the last event in March, there was plenty of food for thought, although as my current contract is primarily dev-centric the practical takeaways for me are the social aspects of process improvement and dev+ops collaboration rather than any specific technologies.

Drawing just a few threads from the notes that I took:

  • Mark Burgess kicked off the talks by suggesting that rather than reacting to faults, it is better to proactively build fault tolerance into your infrastructure and applications. During the ignite talks someone's slide included a relevant quote: "Failure is the inability to handle failure."
  • There were very varied ideas on how to become more collaborative between silos, including an openspace on how to roll out devops and a talk by Jeffrey Fredrick about the psychology and pitfalls of becoming more collaborative. One new idea I took away was the suggestion of making a business case to begin cross-function collaboration by demonstrating problems that stem from a lack of collaboration alongside business goals that can only be tackled through greater collaboration. Indeed, collaboration doesn't just need to be between dev and ops. We should collaborate with HR and IT departments too.
  • I noted several discussions about the future of configuration management. Mark Burgess' talk mentioned the idea of managing infrastructure systems as a whole rather than acting at the level of individual nodes. The view was expressed that solid orchestration should be the backbone of the next generation of configuration managment tools rather than a value-added bonus. However others commented that the orchestration-based tools (Ansible) are not yet on a par with the more node-centric (Puppet and Chef).
  • Some of the openspaces focused on wellbeing. It's easy to forget that technology should be about humans, not just about the cool things we might build. Someone brushed on the idea of a role of "People Leader" looking out for the welfare of team members.

To sum up it was a great conference, and while I'm not currently in a position to contribute new experiences to the technical openspaces, or apply those of others, I always find it very stimulating to be in a group of people who are deeply interested in finding ways to improve their working practices with both technological approaches and by improving "soft skills".

I look forward to the next devopsdays!


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