Devopsdays Atlanta 2020: The “Just” Basics

The theme for devopsdays Atlanta this year is the “just” basics, a nod towards epistemic justification that I wrote about for sysAdvent this year. This theme emerged from conferences I visited last October on The Grand Tour, along with the ten year anniversary of devopsdays in Ghent, Belgium.

The theme for this year was originally “Back to Basics”, but there was some debate on if it was biased towards older technology. What even is devOps 101 in 2020? If you have an answer, can you justify it? Cat Swetel described both cynefin and Wardley mapping as “tools of epistemic justice” during the closing panel of Map Camp London, which is what led us to the theme we have today. Since it’s really Cat’s idea, it only made sense to invite her to give a keynote so she can tells us about it herself.

When I first saw what Andre Thenot had done for our logo this year I assumed it was a hawk. What started out as a phoenix took a turn towards Atlanta at some point. With 2020 being the 5th devopsdays Atlanta I’ve organized with this group and 2019 being 10th anniversary of devopsdays globally, I feel the phoenix-hawk is an accurate representation of where devOps is universally, not just in Atlanta.

phoenix hawk devopsdays Atlanta April 2020

I can also relate to the phoenix-hawk on a personal level. I have learned a lot about complexity, mapping, and sociotechnical system design since I first heard the word devOps in 2013. My definition of devOps has changed because of what I’ve studied and learned since then. I’ve changed too.

My primary goal for 2020 is to build a greenhouse for my aquaponics system. I have had varying levels of success growing fish and vegetables since I started in 2015, but the goal has always been the continuous delivery of fish and vegetables. I realized two years ago (2018) that I really needed to build a greenhouse for the system to run how I dreamed it would. I only met all the pre-requisites to start the greenhouse project just recently, and I’m really looking forward to moving my tilapia into a larger tank. It’s an odd sentiment to have been doing something for five years and find yourself back at the beginning again, but here I am with my fish garden, devOps, and this conference in Atlanta.

I believe the practices surrounding the fish garden fit into devOps, epistemic justice, and observability, but Cat’s talk on mapping sociotechnical systems from QCon last year probably has more relevant examples. My main takeaways from this presentation are that five years isn’t as long as our industry would like to think, devOps is still a young practice, and we need to respect the history that came before us as we co-create intentional futures together.

Does this count as introductory devOps content in 2020? I’d like to think so, but I’m more interested to hear what you think counts as introductory devOps content and how you know your perspective is justified. This justification could be done with a complex model, a map, or even a story about your experiences.

If you’re new to mapping, you’ll be glad to hear we have Gen Ashley joining us for an Wardley Mapping 101 keynote as well. I have worked with Gen as organizers for Map Camp London over the past few years now, and I am really looking forward to hearing her thoughts on Wardley Mapping 101. Gen will also be at REFACTR.TECH this year, which is the same week in April as devopsdays Atlanta. If you’re coming to Atlanta for either event, why not stay the for week and go to both?

I have heard from some folks in the Atlanta tech community that this year’s theme is a little intimidating. Coincidentally enough, Sasha Rosenbaum covers this in her talk from devopsdays Ghent, “Admitting the Hard Problems Are Hard”. Sasha makes some valid points about distributed systems, and how Jabe Bloom and I like using words with lots of syllables, which may or may not always be helpful. I agree with Sasha, these are hard questions. I’ll admit I find them a little intimidating myself, but I am also finding the time invested in learning about this stuff worth it. Given the reading lists I’ve seen floating around twitter this year so far I know we’re not the only ones.

Our CFP is open through January 26th and early bird tickets are still available. Please submit a talk, and I look forward to seeing y’all at the Historic Academy of Medicine again this April.

Sociotechnological Mathematician @ Large

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