Devopsday USA 2010 and the first Silicon Valley Devops Meetup

In late june/early july this year I went to San Francisco for devopsday USA 2010 that I had the pleasure to co-organized with Damon Edwards, Patrick Debois and Andrew Shafer.

I really enjoyed the experience and am glad so many people came to attend the conference (spéciale dédidace to the French Diaspora: Alexis, Olivier, Patrice and Jérôme). I look forward now for another chance to contribute to the next events!

I was still in the Bay Area on july the 6th when the first Silicon Valley Devops Meetup was organized by Dave Nielsen in Mountain View and I decided to join attend their first meetup.

Although Patrick and I have been in contact and working on presentations about "Agile and Operations" and "Continuous Deployment pipelines" months before he pinned the devops term and decided to create the first Devopsdays, we don't live close enough to one another to be able to see each other regularly, and I don't know yet enough devops-minded people locally to be able to start regular meetups, so it was interesting for me to to see what form it would take (sadly I haven't managed to attend to the popular london meetups yet).

The meetup started with a little discussion on the group name and on what the content and form should be for the following meetups.

The first Devopsdays was a 2 days conference with speakers in the morning and openspaces/unconference in the afternoon. I felt it was a nice format since the morning presentation would raise interest on specific subjects and fuel the afternoon debates without restricting them. (We were more constrained by time -only one day- for devopsday USA 2010 and had plenty of speakers so we decided to only have panels and a few lightning talks to raise interest/awareness to other subjects.)

I guess I felt that I was passing on the torch somehow and since some of the topics and discussions that took place during (and after) Devopsdays came back, it was an opportunity to share what was said and done back then. I think that the biggest benefit the devops movement is that it enables people to share their experience with one another, and I believe this is one of the way we can solve the problem I addressed on my first post.

One of the things from Ghent that I mentioned was the very nice experiment by Lindsay Holmwood when he proposed a 1-hour gang-development session on "cucumber as a script language". Not only because the subject was cool, but also because there was actually concrete code produced after this session, and I believe this is great if we can not only exchange ideas but also produce something that goes in the right direction.

Even though the devops movement is very much about people, about having the right mindsets, about breaking silos and about business alignment and change management, it is also about tools. And I think that since developers and ops (and network and security and QA) people meet together during the meetups and conferences, it is also probably the right place for new tools to emerge, tools that can efficiently and elegantly solve the daily pain points and bring people together/help them concentrate on what's really important.

This is why I was really happy to see that the meetup then followed by a nice presentation by Alex Honor on the "devops toolchain project". I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet Alex several time during my stay in the USA as he also had been thinking about those issues for a long time. His work on the toolchain helps pointing the gaps, the same way the "missing tools?" session during Ghent's Devopsdays did and there is a lot to do!

Devops Dojos?

Before I was involved in the devops movement, I was very much influenced by the Agile community, thanks to my friend Raphaël Pierquin (I also met Patrick thanks to him). He is the one who introduced me to the notion of "Coding Dojos".

I'm not sure who invented the Coding Dojos in the first place (it might have been Laurent Bossavit and al), but the idea is roughly "how come you are supposed to become a java expert after a one-week course when it takes a life time of regular training to become a martial art expert?", and as a martial art practitioner myself I find this idea sound.

Still, while I'm sure regular trainings on devops ideas makes sense, I'm not sure exactly how this should be done:

  • Do we need to train on a specific problem, a specific tool or on a specific method?
  • Maybe we could do retrospectives on a problem we've had and the solution we've implemented, to see how others would have fixed it?
  • Maybe this could be an opportunity to design a tool that would solve a specific problem, or a modification on an existing tool so it would be a better fit?

If you guys have an idea about this, I'd be really interested hearing it!