Culture is a funny thing and it influences our lives quietly and constantly. It distinguishes us, binds us together, and gives us a sense of identity. We see couples develop their own cultures. Families have them. Towns, companies and industries all adopt or create cultures.
Speaking of culture, I’ve never met a group of people who get up in the morning with more purpose than Israelis in the tech industry. If you spend any significant time in Tel Aviv, you’ll notice the Israelis have a drive to innovate and deliver. They’re not afraid of failure. Instead, they see it as part of progression. They’ve a cultural mandate to strive to get things off the ground. They use tools which meet the needs best and innovate where beneficial. Sounds familiar right? Sounds like the DevOps movement!
It’s no surprise then, that the DevOpsDays Tel Aviv (now in its fourth year) is a magnet for the confident tech community in Israel to share ideas, learn and network.
The Tel Aviv Convention Centre hosted 500 attendees over two days. Chef and Facebook (who use Chef extensively) were proud to sponsor this sold out event along with other notable companies from across the tech industry.
The ever-popular open spaces gave attendees an opportunity to choose topics of interest and get together to discuss a challenge or practice. One particular open space, ‘Masterchef’ and Chef master, was attended by our co-founder and CTO Adam Jacob. During this open space, Adam gave several recommendations and the discussion progressed into the why, rather than the how. Participants of this session were very open to Adam’s frank and constructive opinions on the merits of an approach. I only wish we had more time for this open space; imagine 30 years ago sitting down for a chat with Bill Gates about how Windows worked and the thinking behind it.
Some of the traditional talks which stand out in my mind are:
Diogo Monica‘s “Orchestrating Least Privilege” where he successfully drew parallels between security, ballet music and other art forms. He took us into attacker models and each was explained with amusing analogies – like an external attacker being someone at a concert throwing tomatoes at the musicians. It was engaging, educational, and interesting.
Charity Majors gave a talk, but not in her scheduled slot due to an almost unbelievable episode with a taxi. If you’re ever with Charity, ask her about her ‘Israel taxi experience’ which she amusingly shared when she got to the stage (a day late).
Her talk ‘A young lady’s illustrated primer to tech decision making’ was very stylized. If you didn’t know what ‘Steam Punk’ was at the start, you did by the end. The talk helped put in place rules about balancing ‘stability and innovation’, when to add new technology, and how ‘your technology exists to serve your mission, it is never your mission!’
In theatrical fashion, our VP of Community, Nathen Harvey, took to the stage, playing out how at least one (notable) developer felt about being involved in the DevOps movement. His talk: “DevOps?! That’s not my job!” was a lively presentation. Once Nathen’s developer alter ego calmed down, we started to see that an individual’s productivity is not the same as company productivity. As the closing slide came up, many phones rose to the screen to capture his definition of DevOps:
A cultural and professional movement, focused on how we build and operate high velocity organizations, born from the experience of its practitioners.
Now, next time someone asks you what DevOps is, there’s a credible answer!
The last talk I want to mention was Corey Quinn’s, “The Stories We Tell and the Failures We’ve Lived”. He gave a frank, brash, and bold talk about the three biggest personal ‘learning experiences’ of his life. He shared his experience being a student (apparently not a good student), being an employee (not always a good fit, and that’s ok!), and finally, that he had not always been as responsible with his finances as he is now. The point of this sharing is that we must all endure challenges to grow. Although they’re not always something people talk about publicly, by talking about them, perhaps we can help others avoid the same issues, or cope when they happen.
Kudos to Corey. We should all take his lead and ask the questions we’re scared to ask. As he put it, “asking stupid questions got me to where I am today”.
Thanks to the Facebook team bringing an Oculus Rift, many of the attendees (myself included) had our first immersive VR experience. I will say, it was almost as amusing to watch as it was to play. If you’ve ever caught yourself dancing to music no-one else can hear in public, then you get the idea.
My ‘swag of the event’ award was certainly the humble yo-yo from sponsor ‘WIX engineering’. It lead to impromptu yo-yo hacking stand-ups with topics like, “how to make it sleep” and “technical string theory, are you winding it up right”.
Thanks to all who came to the event, spoke to Chef, or talked about Chef. It was great to see the thriving DevOps community in Israel. You’ll see many of them in their ‘I ship ideas’ t-shirts around Tel Aviv, which I must say is my favorite city.