Bridget Kromhout

Ops Sundries

All That Sparkles Is Not Magic

On February 20th I emailed Michael Ducy, one of our local devops meetup organizers, and agreed to be the head organizer for devopsdays Minneapolis. The conference occurred July 17-18. Protip: 147 days isn’t as long as you’d think listening to Spike’s monologue in early BtVS S6. (We’re all nerds here, right?)

I reached out to Mike Rembetsy who’d done a bang-up job with devopsdays New York, and when pondering his helpful advice I realized that, like him, I needed a great team. If you were at the conference or watching the livestream you saw some of these folks on camera introducing others and facilitating Open Space; others worked behind the scenes with sponsors, on the evening social mixer, on all the details needed for smooth operation of an event. Donnie Berkholz, Marisa Brandt, Andy Domeier, Michael Ducy, Tom Duffield, Tony Notto, and Jeff Williams did a fabulous job!

Our speakers hit on themes of empathy & inclusion, organizational communication, respecting commitments, the relationship between tools and culture, processing failure, the future and the past. I’m incredibly grateful to all our speakers whether they came by bicycle from Northeast Minneapolis or by wide-body jet from Belgium. With humor and honesty, the longer sessions and Ignites alike gave us a catalyst to launch dozens of Open Space discussions. Most of the talks have slides posted already and video will be coming shortly; both are or will be linked from each talk’s description on the devopsdays Minneapolis 2014 program page.

At the beginning of the conference, I asked how many present were participating in their first devopsdays, and a vast majority of the perhaps 250 people in the room raised their hands. Based on everything I’ve heard in person and read on Twitter, it seems that many people found it to be a valuable and thought-provoking experience. When Patrick Debois asked me to define a victory condition, I said that I wanted everyone to have a fabulous time, learn lots of things, take them back to their organizations, and be the better for it. I’m hopeful we’ll hear that’s happening!

Our opening keynote speaker Sascha Bates talked about how “hipster devops” that excludes people isn’t what we want to be doing, and on day two I got valuable feedback from a marvelously honest attendee that gave me the opportunity to course-correct a bit and try even harder to make sure everyone felt included. A little over a year ago I was the one new to this whole devops thing, this exhilarating space. I want to keep a gap in the conversation circle open to allow more people to join in. I’m so excited that more people in my local tech community are interested in this cultural shift (and yes, willing to put up with all the jargon and in-jokes that any community amasses – perhaps all the goat and silo stuff amuses those from out-state).

In his closing keynote, Patrick Debois posed intriguing philosophical questions; one that’s stuck with me (roughly paraphrased) is, when we up-end the apple cart and jump into something like “devops”, what have we lost? I think that if we pause, we reflect, we open our minds and listen, we can accumulate wisdom in striated layers, not washing away the old with the new, but layering upon it. In places, the foundations of older frameworks and practices may be evident, may peek out and glint in the sun. And everywhere, we stand on the solid shoulders of giant horses that may sparkle (I mentioned sun! Minneapolis weather was perfect last week) but definitely aren’t unicorns.