Chef at DevOpsDays Austin 2017

Every year in early May, hundreds of the DevOps faithful gather in the Live Music Capital of the World for DevOps Days Austin, the world’s largest DevOpsDays conference. On this cool spring morning at the University of Texas, students clad in Star Wars t-shirts hurry to class. Sometimes, when the stars line up just right, DevOpsDays Austin falls exactly on May 4th and 5th, also known as Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) and Cinco de Mayo (Mexico defeat of France at Puebla). 2017 is one of those special years and you can feel the Force in the air.

DevOpsDays Austin began in 2012 with a small gathering of techies at the National Instruments office. Since then the conference has grown exponentially, with over 600 registered attendees in 2017. DevOpsDays Austin is now held at the University of Texas stadium, with a great view of the UT Longhorns home field providing a backdrop for the event.

You might not think of a football stadium as a tech conference venue, but we like do things our own way here in Austin. The unofficial slogan of the city is “Keep Austin Weird”.

The eighth floor of the stadium provides ample space for the conference. John Williams’ Star Wars theme plays through the speakers while everyone lines up for breakfast kolaches, a delicious type of pastry brought to South Texas by Czech immigrants in the 1800s. The main conference hall is packed as attendees eagerly await this year’s star-studded line-up of DevOps thought leader speakers. The theme this year is “Monsters of DevOps” – a hat tip to the classic Monsters of Rock festival tour. 

Patrick Dubois, the ‘grandfather of DevOps’ kicks off the keynotes with a retrospective of the DevOps movement, and some thoughts on where things are headed next. “It was not about just dev and ops anymore, it was a much broader thing. You need to find your next bottleneck. It’s an easy concept, but it’s a hard thing to do.”

A recurring theme this year is how organizations can go beyond DevOps, or the idea that DevOps is a subset of a larger movement that includes compliance and business elements. Operations teams are under tremendous pressure to go faster, without mistakes or unplanned outages, and to remain secure and compliant the entire time. DevOps practices are no longer optional – they are absolutely required for the modern software-driven organization. Continuous compliance allows operations teams to focus on growth and innovation, instead of spending all their time on unplanned work. Chef Style DevOps Kung-Fu explains DevOps as “A cultural and professional movement, focused on how we build and operate high-velocity organizations, born from the experiences of its practitioners.”

After the morning keynotes, attendees enjoy traditional Texas BBQ for lunch, and many great hallway conversations can be overheard in and around the stadium box seats. The expo floor is abuzz with questions and DevOps discussions. Chef and DevOps go hand-in-hand, and many curious attendees stop by our booth to ask about our newest compliance and application automation offerings.

The day wraps up with a happy hour at nearby Saengerrunde Hall, temporarily transformed into the famous Mos Eisley Cantina, complete with themed drinks and appetizers. Fortunately there are no blaster or lightsaber fights! Guests sip on ‘Tatooine Sunsets’ and ‘Princess Leias’ while a live band provides the music.

The happy hour has something for everyone, including a DevOps Against Humanity card tournament, a karaoke contest, and a bowling tournament. A great way to enjoy Star Wars day among friends!

Day two begins with a live Mariachi band, delicious breakfast tacos, and a Mexican Mimosa bar sponsored by Chef Software.

Cinco de Mayo is a popular holiday in the United States, though oddly enough it is not widely celebrated in Mexico. Americans adopted this holiday as a way to celebrate Mexican culture and cuisine, and this is especially true in South Texas. Did you know that the DevOpsDays Austin logo includes a ‘Sugar Skull’ or Calavera?

The second day of the conference is as rich and rewarding as the first. Keynote speakers include Dr. Nicole Forsgren and Gene Kim, and there are many sessions and open spaces available to attendees. There’s something for everyone, from the grizzled DevOps veterans to newbies just getting started with automation.

As the day wraps up and vendors begin to pack up and prepare for their next conference, we look back on the last five years and reflect on how far we’ve come since that first DevOpsDays Austin.

If you weren’t able to attend DevOpsDays Austin this year, there’s still a chance to get some of those delicious breakfast tacos. Register for ChefConf 2017 on May 22-24 and we’ll see you in Austin!

Sean Carolan

Former Chef Employee