The Effects of a Devops Community

Jake Champlin
Jun 2, 2014 · 4 min read

I recently attended DevOpsDays Pittsburgh , which was my very first conference ever. When I mean first conference ever, I truly mean my very first conference. I’ve never attended a GenCon, ComicCon, E3, or LISA conference in my entire life. And I have got to say that I was completely blown away. Sure, the talks were outstanding, the food was amazing, and the sponsors were giving away a lot of free swag. There was a lot of material to be learned, a lot of people to meet, and a lot of new experiences to take in for a small town kid in Pittsburgh for his first time. But what really made the conference completely life changing for me was the entire community.

Heroism and Pride

What truly blew me away right off the bat was the lack of heroism and pride from within the community. Here I was, surrounded by extremely talented and legendary people inside of the DevOps community: Mark Imbriaco, Andrew Shafer, Seth Vargo, Dan Buch, Colin Dean, John Vincent, Nathen Harvey, Brian Wagner, Pete Cheslock, and many many others. And yet, there was not a single hint of brash arrogance. My first day I was at the conference I was readily welcomed as if I was already a prominent member of the community. As I was eating my massive piles of bacon for breakfast, I was greeted openly by several other members of the community. No one, I mean no one, ever looked down on me or made me feel inferior and inadequate for being at the conference given my small amount of experience to date.
This was the first time in my life that I had ever been fully accepted into an academic setting without being judged or assessed.

There was even an excellent talk given by Jennifer Davis called “From Hero to Zero”. The talk describes how damaging hero’s are to our work environments and to our community. I don’t want to spoil the amazing talk anymore, but you should definitely watch it below when you get a chance.

Open Advice and Understanding

The more and more I networked with the community at DevOpsDays in Pittsburgh, the more and more advice I was given. What I noticed as strange at first yet grew to understand was how all of the advice I was given from several different individuals never contradicted advice I was given from a previous individual. I had truly found a community that cared and gave unbiased advice covering a range of issues. There was no judging on the topics that were brought up. No eye rolling or heavy sighing as if to say, “Oh great, here’s another ‘new guy’…”.

The more and more I talked to various developers and operators alike, the more and more friendly they became. I suddenly realized that everyone at this conference truly cares about the community. Nobody was there trying to make a name for themselves, or trying to one-up the other team. Nobody had a “Linus” mentality about “How things should work”, everybody seemed to contribute equally to the common goal of DevOps. There was hardly (if any) bashing between developers and operators.

I never knew a world like this had existed….

Dinner and Hack-A-Social

The last night of the conference I was graciously invited to join a few members of the Chef team and Bridget Kromhout (Who is organizing DevOpsDays Minneapolis). I really got to know the people there at dinner and after talking to Stephen Lauck, Stephen Danna, Julian Dunn, and Bridget. And during dinner we got to talk about a wide variety of topics, including Chef. I was very fortunate to even be present at dinner with them. I mean how many times can someone say that they got to eat dinner with a bunch of Chefs at a restaurant called NaCl (Salt)?

The last day that I was in Pittsburgh, the organizers of the conference rented out space at Revv Oakland, which was by far the coolest experience I have ever had to date. Not only was I able to be more and more involved in the community, but I was able to hack on open source projects with other people in a semi-paired environment. I mean, sure you can hack around on open source projects with people on IRC, but then you always end up with this crap:

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The Future

I honestly believe that if DevOps is ever going to have a successful future in bringing the development team and the operations team together it will have to be with the kind of respectful patience and tolerance that I witnessed this weekend. I was honestly blown away by the amount of kindness at the conference. This would be the equivalent of putting hardcore VI users in the same room as hardcore EMACS users in the 90’s and watching them be productive.

Originally published at on June 2, 2014.

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