Chef at DevOpsDays Cape Town

I am delighted to have joined over 200 people from all over the world that flocked to Cape Town, South Africa for the first ever DevOpsDays in South Africa! DevOpsDays Cape Town was held at the Doubletree Hotel in the Woodstock neighborhood of Cape Town. The conference opened on November 7th, 2016.


Day One

Daniel Maher from Mozilla kicked off day one with a historical look at DevOps. He gave us a look into how DevOps came to exist, how it has evolved, and hypothesizing about where it’s headed. His presentation reminded me of a recent interview published in Forbes with Chef’s CTO and Co-founder, Adam Jacob. You can read a few experts in our blog post, The Future of DevOps.

Next, Spencer Krum from IBM took the stage and discussed code review from the operations perspective. A great benefit of using Chef Automate, is access to our Workflow pipeline tool. This allows you to review and test your infrastructure code as it flows from Git check-in to delivered, and allows your code to progress as quickly as possible with maximum security and visibility.

Dale Humby from Nomanini shared how DevOps allowed them to take a product from vaporware to reality in just six months! Dale shared how the victory was made possible by collaboration and use of tooling to enable their team to move at velocity while maintaining sanity.

After Dale was yours truly. I discussed the complexity crisis we’re currently experiencing by developing applications with an infrastructure-approach and how those complexities can be solved using Habitat’s application-first approach. Habitat allows you to focus on the thing that has the most value, the application. It allows freedom from underlying architecture and frees you from having your infrastructure decisions dictate your application decisions. Moreover, Habitat takes our ever expanding toolchain and packages everything you need for today’s applications — monitoring, service discovery, update and deploy strategies, etc. — into a supervisor that runs alongside the application. As a result, this allows our Habitat artifacts to run as autonomous actors across any infrastructure, giving us true application automation. If you haven’t tried Habitat yet, check it out at and see what all the buzz is about.

Day Two

On day two, HashiCorp’s Seth Vargo showed off some of the cool things their Vault product can do. The demos really showed off the ease and power of the product. In fact, Seth recently teamed up with Chef’s own JJ Asghar to present a webinar, Manage Secrets with Chef and HashiCorp’s Vault. Check out the recording!

Especially relevant, was a presentation by David Ruben from OLX on his experiences in doing DevOps at scale with dispersed teams of hundreds of engineers spanning multiple continents and timezones. Things like proper code-review, automated testing using CI/CD pipelines, and the importance of group collaboration were emphasized. At Chef, we work daily with very large enterprises doing DevOps at scale and these things are essential to shipping at velocity.

Finally, Noa Resare from Facebook discussed how organizations of all sizes can learn from the lessons DevOps at scale has taught us. Noa and David’s talks were very complimentary and allowed us to learn from companies that experience scale.

Open Spaces

Most noteworthy, from Open Spaces on day one, was the topic of Enterprise Transformation. It began with an attendees voicing his frustration with getting his co-workers involved with DevOps practices and tools. It evolved into a full-on transformation discussion. Consequently, many DevOps veterans were able to share their experiences, trials, and tribulations. Using demo days to increase exposure, hosting hack days for all departments to work together on common problems, and how social psychology principles influence others and increase communication through body language are a few ideas that were shared. Many additional tips and tricks were discussed and I believe everyone walked out of there having learned something new.

Ignite Talks

I really enjoyed the Culture Shift talk by Hati Chindove. Hati spoke a bit about Imposter Syndrome and what you can do to propel cultural transformation. The Imposter Syndrome bits resonated for sure. Working at Chef, I’m surrounded by some of the most driven, brilliant minds and visionaries our industry has to offer. It’s easy to slip into a mindset of “omfg, what am I even doing here?!”. But then, I remind myself that these brilliant minds collectively decided to hire me. So, I’m right where I belong.

Habitat Workshop

I was tickled and honored to have conducted a Habitat workshop to over ⅓ of conference attendees! The workshop consisted of a deeper dive into the Habitat internals, followed by some demos. Then, I walked through how to build a Habitat artifact and make a come together. You can try this for yourself by following our step-by-step tutorials:

Get Involved

In conclusion, I had a wonderful time participating in this event. Most of all, I enjoyed hanging out with the great people who organized and attended DevOpsDays Cape Town!

Eric Maxwell

Eric Maxwell is a Solutions Engineer at Chef Software and is focused on making companies more awesome by helping them "do the DevOps" and enabling them to ship at velocity. Eric has helped dozens of the world’s top companies adopt Chef tools and DevOps methodologies while assisting with their DevOps transformation. Based in Portland, Oregon, USA, Eric runs the Chef PDX meetup and is active on the speaker circuit spreading the love of DevOps.