About two weeks ago, several of us went to our first devopsdays conference, and we want to give a HUGE thank-you to the devops community and community organizers in NYC for welcoming us at their sold-out recent devopsdays NYC conference (January 24-25th at the Viacom Center). We met some fantastic people, attended great sessions, and learned a whole heck of a lot. More on that in a minute.

And now, a word from our sponsor:
Want F5 to pay your way to your next devops conference?
Visit f5.com/devops and enter the quarterly drawing!

OK. Back to community stuff.  

We believe community is important. As you all know, community is only as good as the folks involved and the effort put into it – and we were very happy to work with the fantastic organizers! Lessons-learned can only be shared if people can grok what is being said, so we thought we’d do our part to make sure that as many attendees as possible could learn from the speakers instead of just showing up to give out swag and tell folks who we are and what we do – so we decided to sponsor live captioning for this event. We’d rather show you who we are with our actions (and of course solutions) than just talk good game, and were grateful this approach was appreciated.

We were glad to be able to provide value to the community by increasing accessibility of the fantastic content being presented. We were absolutely blown away by Mirabai Knight’s ability to magic the spoken words into text SO quickly and accurately. Her company, White Coat Captioning, does some very important (and cool-to-watch) work, and we’re looking forward to working with them again for the upcoming devopsdays Seattle conference. Check them out.

 

Most of us attended sessions with 400 new friends, some managed to squeeze into some of the super-popular (standing-room only, spilled out into the hallways) Open Talks, and all of us spent time at the booth meeting attendees at one point or another. People and processes were very much the hot topics of the conference (not pure tech as we naively expected), and you can see that reflected in the session and the Open Talk topics.  Jessica Kerr gave an interesting talk about the principles of collaborative automation which captured attendee interest. Liz Fong-Jones gave a very well-attended talk about Organizing for Your Ethical Principles which got a lot of folks nodding and thinking, then left immediately in order to be present as New York’s governor signed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). Gaurav Gargate gave his Steel Thread approach to building large scale architectures presentation.

 

Here’s Boston-based F5 engineer Dale McCoon waiting for someone to come by and take up the offer on his Talk Nerdy To Me staff shirt early on day 1:

Here’s what our table looked like at the start of day 2:

We had swag. We had lots of swag. Poseable robots, stress balls, stickers, t-shirts… we were thrilled to have been able to give most of it away (woo, no carrying anything home!). You can see the drawing on the left for our Amazon gift cards giveaway, and front and center is the Pain Pebble survey.  

For those of you reading who weren’t there, the Pain Pebble survey is our way of better-understanding what challenges are at the top of attendees’ minds. In exchange for telling us if they were more on the DEV side, more on the OPS side, or OTHER, attendees got 3 pebbles of their corresponding color to vote on pain points/challenges. All 3 votes could go into a single jar, or be spread out across 2 or 3 jars.

As promised, here are the Pain Pebble survey results (with a hearty thank-you to all 120 or so folks who participated)!

Highlighted are the most common pain point, as well as each persona’s top challenge (“Other” had a tie). As you can see, most respondents self-identified as being on the ops side, and environments not matching was the biggest obstacle for all folks who participated at our table, followed by technical debt.

We’re going to be surveying the same Pain Points at most of these upcoming events, and doing trip recaps for each event to share what we learned at that event and include a running total of all votes at all the events so we can see how each location compares to the overall.

Robert Haynes will be writing a series of articles addressing the pain points listed above, and discussing some ways to get around/over those challenges. I’ll update this post with links as they get published, but you’ll probably see them better if you follow his Twitter account. Stay tuned!

It was our first time (as a company) at an event like this, and we had a great time with the wonderful folks who were there – from the organizers who did a fantastic job to the attendees to our fellow sponsors, everyone was passionate about learning and sharing knowledge. I know we’re all looking forward to the next community conference, and hoping to see you on the road – and in the meantime, we’ll continue building community and content here on DevCentral, as well as more content over at f5.com/devops (and again, don’t forget to enter the quarterly giveaway at that page, if you live in the US).

See you soon!