DevOps Days Portland 2017

Day 0 - Speaker’s dinner

I had the great pleasure of attending my second DevOpsDays Portland. As usual it was a great two days although it was quite different from last time as I was doing an Ignite talk so I was a bit pre-occupied.

Nevertheless Day 0 started with the Speakers welcome dinner. It was a good time to chat with the other speakers and catch up with some people I only meet at conferences But for something different, we were allowed to bring a “plus one” to dinner, so I was excited to bring my wife Kim along to meet these fabulous people and share this part of my working life with her.

Day 1


Talk abstract

I started Day 1 a bit slowly and missed the opening session but I set myself up and practiced my talk. The first session I saw was with Lucy Wyman and Zach Reichert, two of the QA Engineers at Puppet talking about the QAELK project. They also covered their thoughts on the life cycle of tests, and modern QA practices in a product focused company like Puppet. Fortunately I’ve benefited from their work already but it was exciting to see how other people reacted.

Namshi - 5 year journey

Talk abstract

Next up was Geshan Manandhar talking about his 5 year DevOps journey with the online retailer Namshi in Dubai. I have heard all of these techniques before but it was interesting to see how they progressed over a long period of time. DevOps transformations are always possible, but they can take longer than you want!!

Security and the One Ring

Talk abstract

Amye Scavarda gave a great talk using the metaphor of the Lord of the Rings to explain a security incident. All of the characters were there (with bonus Lego LOTR footage!) and interesting was bringing in legal early. Previously working at a bank, I was well aware of legal teams and how the descended from ivory towers etc. but it was refreshing to hear someone talking about treating them as part of incident team and also Public Relations. I caught with Amye during open spaces, but more on that later.


Sharing - What’s in it for me?!

By now the nerves had kicked in and I was anxious. I shouldn’t be. I’ve given this talk before - I know the content - I believe the content and I had timed it out just so, even with contingencies for when I spoke too fast. From the feedback I received I did well and that’s all I can ask for!

Automate All The Things - Including Your Brain

Unfortunately I was still “coming down” from speaking so I missed a lot of Adam’s talk. But it’s all recorded!

Why Are You So Angry? Or How I Stopped Worrying And Love Public Speaking

Soo is awesome and it pains me to hear her story of harassment at conferences but I’m glad she is. We (I include myself here too) need to hear how other people are treated and stop doing this ourselves, and more importantly look out for others and keep them safe.


Ed gave a fast paced/fire hose presentation on serverless and Functions-As-A-Service. On a side note, I liked the palm card use and was probably better than my clipboard.

You Can’t Buy DevOps, But You May Need To Sell It.

Ken was insightful as ever and this talk was great. I’ve tried pushing DevOps style practices before and I wish I had known some selling techniques before!

Open Spaces and the hallway track

I caught up with Amye Scavarda to talk about security incidents as I wanted to talk about security and financial institutions. But our chat moved onto community development. In particular she made some really interesting points onboarding, updating and exiting people from communities. Which was a really eye-opening idea as I’m slowly trying to help the Windows Puppet community. Attracting people to a community is only one aspect; how do we progress people from just starting, to contributing, to maintaining. How do we help people exit the community? I’m looking forward to Amye’s talk when she pulls this all together.

I attended the PowerShell open space and we talked about how PowerShell is helping automation in Windows environments. Bryan Quinn, from our local PowerShell User Group, suggested this Open Space and I like that our group is spreading the word of PowerShell in DevOps communities.

Am I The Crazy One? Gaslighting And Gender In The Workplace

Talk abstract

Holly Burton gave the closing talk for the days. I had heard the term gas lighting before but never know the details of it. Holly gave an fantastic talk on what gas lighting is and how it manifests itself in gender based power issues. This was so good I shared it with my family!

Day 2

Day 2 was far more refreshing. Not doing a talk helps with anxiety! Unfortunately I missed some of the talks as I had some work to do, but the organizers were live streaming so I could still watch them. I was back to the conference just after lunch.

Aligning Business, Engineering And Operations With Actionable Metrics

I first met Dawn Parzych at DevOpsDays Seattle where we were first time ignite speakers so I was thrilled to see her full length talk on metrics. Something I’m still learning about is measurement and how to apply metrics so Dawn’s talk straightened out a few things in my head. We need to align our metrics to our business goals. How do we even define and measure business goals?

Open Spaces and the hallway track

I wanted to talk to Holly about her gas lighting talk and we eventually started talking about cats, dogs and cockney rhyming slang. Funny enough it’s nice to see people that are so knowledge about serious topics can also wax lyrical about how their cat is just plain odd.

I attend the Working Remotely open space as I was interested in how this works as I may be turning into one soon. One interesting idea that resonated with me is abandoning daily standups. This was because in my potential new team timezones would be a real problem so how do we coordinate our actions when in person meetings for everyone was basically impossible.

I also had a good chat with the Nutanix vendors about their new products. I had been interested in Nutanix many years ago for VDI and they seem to be moving into the application hosting space now. Not sure there’s room in the market for yet-another-hypervisor but you never know.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Or Can You?)

The closing talk by Kristen was a great talk on issues and tips on communicating with other people and teams. Even in a small-ish company like Puppet, it’s very important to understand how to talk to other people so you can get what you want and need!

Final thoughts …

Another Portland DevOpsDays done and it was very different than the last. Speaking at events is stressful and diverts my focus from the awesome content. Fortunately the talks were recorded so I can go back and catchup on what I missed.

Of course this event would not happen without the organisers and volunteers so … Thankyou!!

Will I be back next year? If I’m in the country HELL YEAH; but it’s quite a trip from Australia so we’ll see…