The Face of Success: Insights from BigPanda’s “IT Ops from Home” Virtual Summit

Close to 400 IT professionals from some of the most prominent enterprises in the retail, financial, technology, pharma and manufacturing industries attended our “Face of IT Ops from Home” virtual conference, enjoying a keynote session featuring Sony Playstation and State Farm Insurance, and three breakout sessions with Ulta Beauty, AWS and BlackRock 3.

Our guest speakers, all experienced IT operations leaders in their respective domains, shared their experiences and insights into the transformation of their businesses and the challenges they are facing in these unusual times.

What do State Farm and Sony Playstation Have in Common?

A lot, as it turned out. Moderated by BigPanda CRO Bryan Dell, the keynote session featured Ben Narramore, Sr Manager of the Playstation Network, who discussed the inner workings of PlayStation’s IT operations and how they have been handling Christmas-level traffic for the past 8 weeks, as their 94 Million (!) active users are all at home, gaming. And they’re doing all of this with a fully-remote IT Ops team that’s working from home and relying on a single screen, down from the 40 they were used to, in the NOC. Joining him was Marla Brotherton, Director of IT at State Farm Insurance, the largest property, casualty and auto insurance provider in the United States – with over 70,000 employees nationwide and 83 million policyholders. Marla shared several insights from State Farm’s digital transformation journey in the past years – and how they managed to quickly move the vast majority of their associates to a work from home status in just a matter of weeks – while continuing to support their millions of customers on all fronts. If you’re interested in getting an insider’s view on how these leaders operate their IT, you should watch this recorded session.

AWS: Designing Highly Resilient Systems

“You never know what the future will hold, but resilience is the key pillar to success.”

While that aphorism is always true, it seemed to resonate strongly with the audience at the AWS breakout session, when Kelly Looney, Global DevOps SI Practice Lead at AWS, shared it. Joining Kelly at the event was Aditya Muppavarapu, Global Segment Leader for AWS’s DevOps Partner Network.

During this spirited session which was moderated by Mohan Kompella, VP of Product Marketing at BigPanda, Kelly and Aditya talked about  the importance of enterprise resilience and the role of the platform (in this case AWS) in ensuring it. They then went on to discuss the type of tooling enterprises should consider as they migrate to the cloud and operate as a hybrid enterprise, and how BigPanda can help these enterprises in their journey.  And finally, since we can’t  ignore our current (remote) state of affairs, Kelly and Aditya discussed what DevOps teams, that have been distributed for several years now, can teach IT Ops and NOC teams that now find themselves to be 100% distributed and remote as well, literally overnight.

BlackRock 3: What is the Future of IT Operations?

One of the most popular sessions from last year’s Autonomous Operations Summit was led by Blackrock 3 Partners, and we were tremendously excited to have one of their founders, Ron Vidal, join us again at this year’s virtual summit. Ron’s 35 year career spent managing fiber networks, oil & gas, and fire response has given him indispensable experience in incident management. During his session, moderated by Anirban Chatterjee, Director of Product Marketing at BigPanda, Ron taught a master class on best practices around the Incident Management System (ISM), especially relevant in the face of the unprecedented challenges faced by IT Ops teams today. Among other things, he covered the responsibilities held by IMS roles such as the Incident Commander, Liaison, and Scribe, the need to ask lots of questions when streamlining a process, and the importance of measurements. Truly inspiring, the session provided the audience with valuable insights and techniques that are normally reserved for participants at BlackRock3’s premier academy for Incident Commanders.

The Face of Ulta Beauty on the Journey to Digital

Jeff Ybarra, Sr. IT Manager at Ulta Beauty, discussed Ulta’s ongoing digital journey as they bring new retail locations, distribution centers, data centers and new offices online. Moderated by Jason Walker, Field CTO at BigPanda, the session gave attendees an exclusive behind the scenes look at IT operations inside a leading retailer with over 1200 stores nationwide. Combining the right people, new processes and BigPanda’s advanced technology, Ulta was able to compress their overall alerting by 84%, went from 35,000 monthly incidents to just 5700 BigPanda-correlated incidents, and reduced their MTTD/A/R from hours or days to just minutes. Ulta’s tier-1 NOC personnel were able to resolve 96.3% of those incidents without escalating to higher tiers, thanks to the correlated incidents’ rich context and easier application of runbooks. And all this meant less time spent on maintenance, more time for projects and innovation.

Did you miss the virtual summit and wish you were there? Don’t worry – all the sessions were recorded and are available on demand here.