DevOpsDays NYC 2018 was the first conference we sponsored. We knew the community around DevOpsDays was spectacular – full of exciting speakers and amazing sharing and values of inclusion. The community manager in me was excited by the community vibe and code of conduct.

Our main objective at DevOpsDays was to conduct an experiment: “Can we connect with site reliability engineers?” Our goal was 30 significant conversations around finding out if what we wanted to build would make SRE’s life better, not just something we think will work. We talked to over 40 SREs from various backgrounds and received some fantastic feedback from them.

We are still looking to talk to SREs about our proposed features – talk to us.

I also took some time to listen in on a few sessions and here are some of my observations.

Lesson 1: It’s all about culture

By my count, close to 50% of talks focused exclusively on the human part of DevOps; be it customer or fellow teammates. The same went for the open spaces I listened in on.

This is in stark difference from other “technical / developer” based conferences I’ve attended. I suspect this is because of the difficulty in accomplishing the organisational shift to DevOps. People see the value in moving towards DevOps’ focus on the user, but doing it well and in a way that they won’t slip back into old habits is hard. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though; if you build your teams right and work through customer feedback, you are already on the right road.

Lesson 2: Experiment always (and be disciplined)

What I heard from many of the speakers is just how hard it is to stay disciplined in experimental processes. Make sure you have a hypothesis going in so you aren’t going back to find it after your “experiment.” It’s always fun to dive in and build but knowing what problem you are trying to solve and then measuring the solution is the best way to validate your approach.

Lesson 3: People are amazing

I was fortunate enough to meet and work with all of the volunteers at the NYC event. Truly a fantastic and dedicated group of folks. In addition, many standout non-presenters made the event even more amazing than it might have otherwise been.

  • Ashton Rodenhiser (@MindsEyeCCF) wowed me with her ability to transform concepts and words into works of artful learning.
  • Liz Fong-Jones (@lizthegrey ) impressed me with both excellent speaking skills and a fantastic ability to live tweet – when I was staffing the booth I was thankful to be aware of what was going on in the main room.
  • Norma Miller of White Coat Captioning (@whitecoatcapxg) took the conference to another level when I observed her transcribing every talk in real time. We were fortunate enough to sponsor her work.

What’s next?

Now we’re headed to Charlotte DevOpsDays next month and we’re looking forward to chatting with more SREs.

And finally.

“DevOps is not a goal, but a never-ending process of continual improvement” – @ChrisShort

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