This week I attended the first WinOps conference in London, a conference dedicated to the people, tools and practices it takes to “do DevOps” on Windows. The day was well organised, well executed and well attended which was impressive as a new event. Below I share some of my thoughts about the conference and the future of the #WinOps community.

A different DevOps community…

This was not a conference attended by start-up hipster techies, it was a conference for battle scarred enterprise IT folk. A conference for those wrestling with DevOps in a world of legacy systems and enterprise licensing agreements. This is a world I know all too well and it’s great to find an event where we can join forces without being “the uncool kids”.

It’s also a well-timed initiation for this conference. Microsoft have been relentless in their pursuit to stay relevant in a world of open-source and they are finally getting where they need to be. Embracing Docker, open-sourcing .NET and building their own Linux distribution; this new Microsoft is a whole different beast and I think the WinOps organisation is well placed to bring the “shiny new things” to Microsoft users.

Wise words, no demos required…

Although I know there were a few demonstrations in the workshop area, the main conference sessions and panels were free from demos. For me this is exactly how it should be. Instead we had an engaging and entertaining keynote from Stephen Thair, an interesting and insightful tour of JustEat’s technical wizardry by Peter Mounce and a high energy, original talk about situational awareness from John Rakowski of AppDynamics. Based on the number of questions and participation from the crowd I believe all speakers were well received and it was good to see that many of the talking points and questions were OS agnostic (a common theme throughout the day).

The panel sessions were equally well executed. They were facilitated well and there was a good spectrum of experience and expertise on the stage. Was it the first time Chef, Puppet and Ansible had all been represented on one panel? Perhaps we will never know, but it was interesting to observe the general consensus between all parties on subjects like “how to manage your infrastructure code?” (The answer: The same as your application code stupid!)

Those who also attended the final panel session may have found it somewhat meandering, but there was plenty of banter to compensate. Perhaps a little more energy at the end of the day would be welcome next year.

To those who missed it…

As a new event I guess WinOps was not the top priority for a number of people. There were a couple of absentees in the scheduled speakers and I am not sure the organiser providing the keynote was by design. However, I don’t think this impacted the day significantly. If anything it demonstrates the quality and strength of the support around the event that no one was particularly missed. I don’t believe this will be a problem next year.

The other notable absence was Microsoft themselves — they weren’t even a sponsor. On reflection I believe this was a stroke of genius. It created a more open, honest, critical and useful discussion around what it’s like running on Windows in the real world. There was a real sense that people in the room had seen it all and had the scars to prove it.

Microsoft’s Susan Smith did arrive after lunch to attend the afternoon panel session. She joined in amiably on jokes about licensing, and came across as likable, humble and refreshingly self-deprecating. Unlike many Microsoft events where you get the impression the shiny new things are already here, there was a lot more realism to the discussion and that was appreciated.

So in summary…

WinOps 2015 was a very strong start and I’m looking forward to seeing this community grow. Sure, we are not the cool kids, but with DevOps and Craft Beer in common I think we’ll get by just fine.

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Originally published at hannahfoxwell.net on September 25, 2015.

Written by

#HumanOps champion, #HugOps evangelist and recovering #DevOps consultant. Product Manager at @ServerDensity and #DevOpsDays London Organiser

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