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DevOpsDays 2010

Spent last Friday in Mountain View at DevOpsDays 2010. It was well executed and got great vendor support (lunch, tshirts, free) - total victory there for the folks involved in organizing! The format was a mix of panel discussions with a set of lightning talks, ignite-style, between them.

I wasn't in the target audience if this event. Frankly I think that's a good thing, as I already do devops-ey things. I didn't find myself enlightened by any particular topic covered, though it was good to finally put names to faces for some of the more prominent folks in the DevOps movement and other folks I've met online.

The target audience of today's DevOpsDays event was basically two sets. First, people who were in ops (staff or managers, all disciplines: IT, prod ops, netops, etc) who wanted to learn about DevOps. Second, people who wanted to know how to shift their ops culture towards something that is better for the business.

If you aren't yet aware of DevOps, the main idea is that Ops (sysadmins, IT, netops, whatever) needs to focus on providing and being seen as business value. Many businesses see IT in-general as a cost-of-doing-business piece, which is likely why the common culture is what it is: Execs treat IT as "just keep it up and don't ask me for help."

Successful devops implementation at many web companies generally first manifests itself as "smooth deployments" as that is the most common point of failure in interaction between the internal development teams and operations steams. Change causes outages when not done properly. Devops more or less encompasses modern best practices and ways to improve visibility and business value in IT, so don't let any fixation with automated deployments sway you from the larger ideas present here.

Visibility has two fronts. Technical visibility in that you drive towards systems that encourage monitorability and monitoring. Pretty much every discussion at devopsdays mentioned the need for metrics. You can't fight the science if you have supporting data. Second, company visibility in that your group shows that ops provides real value.