On September 5th, Chef sponsored the first ever DevOpsDays Oslo. It was also my first DevOpsDays event. If you’ve not been to one, let me share my experience and what to expect.
Having come from the busy-ness of London, it was a breath of fresh air to leave my hotel in the cool calm Oslo morning. The streets were quiet and a 10 minute walk from my hotel opposite the train station had me arriving at the industrial styled ‘Gamie Museet’. Looking down into the exhibition space, I could see around 10 exhibitors and 150 attendees.
These community technical conferences are all about making connections, exchanging opinions, sharing experience and also it seems, eating very well!
The schedule for the two days was built around the ebbs and flows of energy throughout the day; a format they’ve come to through their vast experience putting on these events (40 DoDs this year alone).
The day starts with breakfast, coffee and mingling around the spacious exhibit hall before presentations. There are plenty of opportunities to make new connections and rekindle old ones.
Monday saw us starting with Mark Burgess, “How we know if IT systems are working well”. Mark took us through the principals of ‘Promise Theory’ and how people fit into promise theory. Mark explained that often people (who form large parts of promise systems) ask themselves ‘am I doing a good job?’ which is different from ‘am I fulfilling the needs of this larger system?’ – a slight but vital difference.
We then heard from Jon Arild Tørresdal, who spoke about his experience of a “DevOps Journey”. His presentation drew on Jez Humble’s book, “Continuous Delivery.”
Wisdom from Jon’s talk included revelations in process like: “Never roll back,” “No login” and “No Branches”. He explained that if branches don’t get in your way, you may not be trying to move fast enough.
A coffee break followed, further 30 minute presentations, then short form talk format called Ignite Talks. The premise is that the slides change every 15 seconds for 5 minutes to ensure that things are kept moving.
One of the funniest talks of the conference, most stylistic and certainly most tongue in cheek, was called “How to Kill DevOps (in 5 Minutes)”. We were given an overview of the practices that are sure to repress collaboration, minimise communication and thwart agility. Well done Kjetil Jørgensen-Dahl!
Lunchtime arrived and was a chance to sample delicious Norwegian food. I noticed the Norwegian diet seems to consist of ‘Veg and Two Meats’ rather than the British ‘Meat and Two Veg’ (vegetarian options also present). I approve.
Our afternoons were given to the sharing of experience and ideas through ‘Open Spaces‘. This format was introduced to the uninitiated by the laying out the ground rules. Participants are empowered to freely move around between the six concurrent discussions and contribute in any way they see fit. A pep-talk ahead of the talks if you will.
Once we were all sold on the principle of Open Spaces, we were invited to put in ideas for conversations. Twelve were selected and participants indicated their interest.
The First of these sessions I attended was titled “How to Adopt DevOps.” At its peak, the conversation had 25 attendees with around 9 actively contributing. We shared our experience and observations, parallels were drawn to the adoption of Agile 15 years ago in the software industry. We discussed tactics for increasing adoption, referred to the earlier anti-patterns from Kjetil and concluded that there’s no one-fit formula, but a toolbox of options. These group discussions were valuable, particularly as queries can be answered and theories can be tested against others experiences.
The afternoon then turned to evening and our drink vouchers were exchanged for beer and wine on site. The social space was furnished with foosball and table tennis. After chatting to some Oslo engineers we took to the foosball table only to learn that two of the four of us had ‘misspent youths’ playing foosball. Fortunately, they were on opposing teams. My evening concluded after a few light hearted discussions about language, life, tech and whether Wales is used as a standard measurement of area outside of the UK (it’s not).
Day two followed the same format as the first. Chef’s own Jody Wolfborn took to the stage to discuss the feeling many of us have suffered from at one point, ‘Imposter Syndrome’. This was an inspiring and frank talk which put those who suffer with this condition in good company, drawing on quotes from Albert Einstein and grand master Yoda… to name a few.
More food, speeches, ignite talks, open spaces and the conference was done. Tweets transmitted, stickers selected and swag stowed. Until next time Oslo, you’ll always be my first DevOpsDays and certainly not the last. Thanks to all who put this together, spoke, contributed and attended.
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