Dominic Umbeer / Blog

On the 23rd and 24th of October I attended DevOpsDays Berlin. It was the first time for me at any DevOpsDays event at all.

First of all I have to say thank you to all the organisers and sponsors for making such an event possible. The event is non-commercial and an entry fee of 150 Euro was absolutely fair.

The next highlight for me was the location. At weekends the “Kalkscheune” becomes a club and this was where I met my fiancée for the first time. So a good omen for me right from the start.

The atmosphere was really warm and familiar. There were not too many attendees, which made it easy to get chatting to several people quickly and have interesting discussions about various topics.

I had an interesting conversation with a Microsoft Technical Evangelist (yes… you read it right!) about the devops movement and how it could be organised in small and large organisations. It changed my view on this topic a bit because I had only been looking at it from the perspective of a startup company. For me, “devops” was a person who combines the developer and operations role. But you can also see it as the culture/mindset of a team or whole department.

Thanks to the chat, I’m now thinking about building functional teams where developers and operations work side-by-side within the same team, instead of forming developers who fulfil both roles.

But actually the biggest surprise for me were the open space sessions in the afternoon on both days. It was the first time I had attended such a format and it convinced me directly after the first session.

What makes this format so interesting for me?

  1. You can choose between different topics (which are proposed by the attendees, by the way), so you can join sessions which are relevant and interesting for you; or you just propose your own topic and see if someone else is also interested in it.
  2. You talk in relatively small rounds and you get useful information and interesting inputs really quickly. And the best is that the information comes from real people with real world experience.
  3. Sometimes you can’t go really deep into detail in a session but afterwards you often have a good sense of who had the same problems and ideas. Talk to those people later in a 1-on-1 and you will be surprised how fruitful such conversations can be.

If you happen to also be interested in open space, Wikipedia is a good starting point.

Another interesting topic was picked up in a “Hands-On” session and presentation by James Fryman from Github.

Essentially it concerns a human-friendly interface which can be used to trigger some technical actions. For example, the HR department can use a company chat to set up a new user mail account by typing something like “new mail address for Dominic Umbeer” into the chat. I think, the official term is “ChatOps”.

I really like the idea of having quick access to common tasks through a simple interface. During his presentation Mr Fryman told us a story of a friend of his who was able to solve an urgent problem in production by simply typing some text into a chat on his smartphone while he was driving. Believe it or not (and I hope his car was parked when he did it…), but I think the intention is clear.

I will definitely dig a bit deeper into this topic and see if it can make my and my colleagues’ lives easier. I’ve always wanted to control the whole system through an easy interface ;)

If you are searching for ChatOps on Google you will find some interesting stuff. Try it.

Overall it was a great event and I had the pleasure to talk to several smart and interesting people. I’m already looking forward to DevOpsDays Berlin 2015!