1) Culture matters
Showing that what we do is as much about people as it is about machines, you could hardly attend a session where team culture wasn’t mentioned as a critical component of the speaker’s overall strategy or problem-solving approach. One example of this was in co-author of “The Phoenix Project” Gene Kim’s talk, “Top DevOps Discoveries”. Introducing a slide that depicted desperate employees literally at each other’s throats, he let the imagery speak for itself for a moment, before using it as an example of why DevOps is, in his words, “important and urgent”. Gene spoke about the nightmares of technical debt, as well as the “downward spiral” that is created when the “intertribal warfare” and finger-pointing between Dev and Ops teams goes unchecked.
2) With the right tools, smart people can do amazing things
It may seem like a no brainer, but this sentiment repeatedly surfaced throughout the sessions and discussions at the show. Igor Serebryany – part of Airbnb’s wonderfully named “Developer Happiness Team” – mentioned in his talk “Democratic Deploys at airbnb” that every engineer at the company is responsible for deploying their own code. Igor shared his view that “engineers can do amazing things if they have the right tools” and explained that Airbnb actively supports and equips their staff with the right tools so that every single engineer can act as their own release manager. This approach not only empowers the team, but it also reduces procedural bottlenecks.
3) The world is changing and we need to change with it
Joining a panel on “The Cure for Alert Fatigue”, BigPanda’s own Dan Turchin (VP Product) shared his view that the tools we use to monitor alerts need to change because the technologies we’re using are changing. “Everything has changed in IT ops (e.g. infrastructure, application, and deployment technologies) but our management tools”, according to Dan. When equipped with the right platform to manage alerts, Dan explained how a client with 8,500 external customers was able to restore service after a DDoS attack within a 15 minute SLA window because BigPanda reduced 30,000 noisy alerts into 15 actionable incidents.
However, tying things back once again to culture, he advised that the change which organizations need to implement in order to remain successful runs deeper than the technologies and tools used. Certainly, that’s a big part of it. But the human element is also critical. In fact, as technologies evolve, DevOps and IT Ops culture will have to naturally evolve in tandem. “As the volume of change increases, there’s a need for a radically different relationship between humans & machines”, Dan explained. “The traditional NOC is dead. In the NOC of the future, the engineer will no longer function as ‘student’ sitting in front of blinking lights, playing a game of whack-a-mole. He or she will have to evolve into the role of ‘professor’, orchestrating a sophisticated symphony of signals and noise.”
4) No surprise here: You can do amazingly cool things with data
Again, while this is a no-brainer, FutureStack provided an incredible platform to remind us of the amazing things that modern technologies enable us to do with data. A perfect example of this was the closing keynote talk from Joseph Inzerillo, Executive VP and CTO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). Inzerillo demonstrated how new features like BallPark Cam and iPads in the dugout are transforming America’s oldest pastime into a hotbed of innovation. In an instant, these technologies measure an array of data points throughout the stadium, enabling us to understand and analyze the game in ways that were never before possible. Great news for sports fans – and data nerds!
5) We won’t challenge Lew Cirne to a sing-off
If you left the closing keynote even a few minutes early, then you missed what was probably one of the most tweeted moments of the entire show. In a performance that sent every techie in the room clamoring for their phones, NewRelic CEO Lew Cirne closed out the show with an incredibly solid rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, literally ending the show on a high note.
Missed us at FutureStack? Our next stop is right around the corner! We’ll be at AppSphere Nov 30th – Dec 4th in Las Vegas. If you’re attending, don’t miss the BigPanda booth. Stop by to say hi, grab a t-shirt, and learn how you can get a sweet drone – for free!