Chef at DevOpsDays Berlin

The Event

In its fourth year, Chef was again sponsoring DevOpsDays Berlin. The event was held in the cosy Kalkscheune in Berlin-Mitte, giving at a quite homey atmosphere. Chef had a strong presence as a platinum sponsor and with presenters like Nathen Harvey and Eric Maxwell.

The Presentations

A wide range of speakers from different backgrounds shared their DevOps-related insights and recommendations with the audience. Two talks, Hannah Foxwell’s “Information Overload and the Real Cost of Interruptions”, and Peter Vahol’s “Talking to People: The forgotten DevOps Tool”, focused on the communication practices in today’s engineering teams and organizations.

Hannah presented how the brain’s wiring makes us susceptible to digital disruptions. She urged the audience to take control of their practices, and their tools’ notification settings.

Peter highlighted how the urge to stay in control keeps people from engaging in face-to-face conversations (rather than firing off a text message). This makes us lose much of what it means to communicate.

Ignite Talks

Both days, we saw Ignite Talks; short and crisp presentations with auto-advancing slides. Nathen Harvey proclaimed how some people preceive DevOps as “Not my job” but really is everyone’s concern (slides). Eric Maxwell shared the how’s and why’s of properly doing Role Cookbooks (slides).

David Schmitt’s talk on Diversity vs. Cultural Fit, and how trying to achieve the latter hinders the former, stood out. In it, he reminded the audience to try to make folks in the background feel welcome and listen to those who don’t raise their voices.

Open Spaces

One of the technical topics covered in Open Spaces was on Managing Secrets. When you use Chef, you can do this with chef-vault, or by integrating Chef with HashiCorp Vault.

Some of the cultural and social topics discussed were around building a culture of diversity in DevOps Teams, and how to best integrate remote workers. Our friend Aaron Kalin from DNSimple recently presented a webinar for us on Creating the Next Generation of DevOps. In it, he gives some great suggestions for ways to change your hiring practices to be more inclusive and increase diversity. Another relevant video is our panel discussion with our friends at Adobe. Watch the recording to get some great tips on sharing knowledge across the company, and getting distributed teams to participate in your DevOps transformation.

The format of this event also gave the audience a chance to follow-up on the morning’s talks, and share their experiences on these topics. Most noteworthy, was the Engineering Confessional open space session. Attendees were invited to share the biggest tech disasters they’ve experienced. One of the lessons learned from these experiences was to remember, when creating test data for your university’s alarm system, try not to be too inventive — especially when accidentally distributing those messages to every student and faculty member.


Next to the Open Spaces, both days featured workshops. Eric Maxwell invited attendees to a deep-dive into Habitat. The Habitat Workshop started off with an in-depth look into the internals of Habitat and then dove into a series of demos showing off some of Habitat’s features. Attendees were eager to engage and ask great questions throughout the workshop which led to some very good discussions.

The excitement over Habitat was obvious and people didn’t want to leave when we reached the official end time. Politely, the organizers asked us to wrap up and move our conversations outside the room so they could clean. The Habitat discussions picked back up at the social event that evening at Panoramapunkt. If you’d like to see what all the buzz is about, follow our step-by-step tutorials for getting started with Habitat.

The Chef Table

Traditionally, DevOpsDays is not a vendor-packed trade show. The DevOps community organizes and drives the events. Nonetheless, Chef enjoys sponsoring these community conferences and our team stood by to answer questions and discuss all the things DevOps. At our table, we had many productive exchanges about our commercial offering, Chef Automate, and our Open Source tools for automating infrastructure, applications, and compliance.

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Stephan Renatus

Stephan is a Software Development Engineer based in Germany.