DevopsWorld! How weird is that ? I mean, the whole idea of a conference dedicated to a mindset which kind of became a recruitment tool which is also super empowering while simultaneously being incredibly exhausting.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole thing.
Existential ( and career ) crises aside, I'm at DevopsWorld/JenkinsWorld in Lisbon for the next few days and wanted to get my initial day 1 thoughts down. I'm intending to write something a bit longer once it's all said and done and I've had a chance to get back home, for now though, here's some random noise I've not so carefully curated form my notes.
Oh. I'm also going to provide an arbitrary score as and when I see fit, because judging something on an undefined axis with no competition is 'fun'.
(Also, P.S: There were photos to go with this. You'll have to just visualise them though as my phone is dead and the cable for it non cooperative. Trust me though, the thoughts were /great/)
I'd love to talk about the registration process, but I can't. Instead of registering on day 1 I was one of the slightly sad (super cool) people who went along the night before to have a look at the sponsor booths, have some wine and skip any technical issues or lining up.
What I can say is that the badge is pretty swish, the process was as painless as filling out some details on an iPad ( which is because that's exactly what the process was .) My only concern here is the small print about if you lose the badge their is a fee for replacement. That fee is $300 according to the small print. Understandable but mildly terrifying for someone who once lost a shoe while wearing it.
It's worth saying that the location is stunning. The conference centre itself is like any other conference centre but from just outside there is a beautiful view of 25 de Abril Bridge spanning out across the water. It makes for a really nice space to take a moment and get a breath.
Getting to the centre was a breeze as well, breakfast provided by the hotel in the morning and a veritable army of shuttle bushes whisking people from point to point.
Overall, I'm giving the pre-registration a solid 5/7, purely knocking off two points due to my constant fear about losing the badge.
This is an area where it's been knocked out of the park. For DevopsWorld 2019 there's an app you can install which acts as your gateway into what's happening. The app enables the following:
- Easy access to the conference schedule to plan what events you're going too
- A way for updates to be pushed out about delays, give away's and any other information
- An attendee list for those who have published their profiles, with the ability to message them
- Information on the sponsors and options to reach out to talk
- A photo scavenger hunt game WHICH I HAVE GOT WAY TOO INTO ( send help )
- Various other features which I haven't explored due to getting stuck in the scavenger hunt.
Outside of the app, the venue itself is also well kitted out. There's been plenty of seating, power points for charging phones dotted around the breakout areas, great signage, super friendly staff and regular breaks for food and drinks. All in all from a public perspective at least, it seems like everything is running smoothly without any hiccups.
I'm going to state from the outset that, for me at least, the keynote was a really mixed bag. Some great bits, but a lot of it which just left me with either unease or apathy. Still, lets start with the good which, coincidentally, happened almost entirely in the first half.
- The production values were universally great. Solid demos, great lighting, clever use of the three screens and picture within a picture to ensure that everyone could be seen. There was the occasional issue with microphone balance but that never lasted more than a moment or two.
- Some cool stats, over 900 people in attendance from over 30 countries.
- Code of conduct was mentioned early on in the presentation. I would have liked to have seen some more time spent on it but i'm glad to see it presented prominently
- Same with the women in tech slide, really cool to see it there, would have liked a bit more time spent talking about it but, I count this as a good.
- Some of the talks and jokes were genuinely funny. Which is almost unheard off.
- Some absolutely incredible people on stage during the first touching on their work ( largely with the cdfoundation ) and some of the cool tech being developed. -- As a side note, for me at least, Tara Hernandez, Tracey Miranda, Kohsuke Kawaguchi and James Strachan have all done huge things for our industry and are continuing to do huge things so it was great getting to hear what they're all working on. -- A side side note, cdfoundation is a huge thing and is definitely something to watch/be involved with. This is an area I'm really excited about -- A side side side note. Is this just a note at this point ? I haven't thought about tinderbox in an age. The whole keynote was worth it just for this.
A big take away from the first half of the conference for me was that it didn't feel like people were selling a product. This is largely why most of the good from the keynote falls into the first half for me. Still, can't have the good without the bad, so:
- There was quite a few slides about superheroes. Now I'm a little uncomfortable about DevopsWorld describing folk as superheros. I feel like we've spent the last few years encouraging companies to kill their superheroes where possible. This feels like a weird message to now be putting out.
- Forced question and answer sessions on stage where they're meant to appear unscripted and off the cuff but are obviously scripted is kind of awkward. Acting is hard, I'd much rather we just stopped pretending in general at conferences that this kind of thing ever feels natural.
- A very heavy tools focus. This isn't surprising given cloudbee's involvement, but it's still a bit troubling. DevOps was (in my view) never meant to be about implementation of specific tools. I worry that we're creating and encouraging another class of application support engineers.
The bad might seem quite short compared to the good, but this is a little misleading. I have no notes from the second half of the keynote. I have general impressions ( which were largely 'We now have an hour of cloudbee's talking about cloudbee's, which is fine, it's their show. ) There were a couple of cool points during it in relation to cloudbee's announcements, but it did feel like one long marketing pitch.
I guess in summary the bits of keynote which were more about what's happening in the wider world of CI and CD were genuinely great. The parts which felt like a long drawn out attempt to sell a product just didn't really resonate with me, and the ratio between the two felt a bit off, or at least the lack of anything breaking up the hour long second half cloudbees session did.
However, it is their show so they do kind have the right to.
Outside of the keynote, naturally, the first day had an assortment of talks. I don't want to go into specific details of the ones I've attended ( one was excellent, one was ok ) but more the general impressions from the other folk I knew who were there.
The general view within my group at least ended up being that too many of the talks felt like product pitches. It's also kind of the norm for any such conference. The strongest talks for me were the ones which talked about a journey rather than a specific tool. In some instances this was about how change was wrought in an organisation, in others it was about how to go from point a to point b using a range of approaches and mindsets.
One important thing which I really do want to applaud the organisers on is (yet again) the app. The ability to see when talks are, where they're located, who's running them, a brief synopses and information on who's running it or backing it is incredibly useful. Not only does it make it really simple to find and attend talks, but also gives you a heads up on which talks are likely to be more sales pitches and avoid/attend depending on your own interest in the product being offered.
At the end of the day there was a happy hour (which was two hours long) run by one of the sponsors. It was..surreal but also a lot of fun. My initial reaction was one of exhaustion, it was super hero themed, which I've already talked about my concerns about, but an utter blast.
The food was excellent, the drinks were great and scattered around the expo hall were 'sideshows' to engage in. The classic hit a thing with a hammer get a score, a VR booth, darts. You get the idea. Just simple fun.
So while I might have found the theme a poor choice, I did genuinely have fun.
Also, I discovered I can't play table tennis for the life of me.
So, a summary of sorts. The first day of DevopsWorld is exactly what I expected. Heavily sponsor based, lots of tools to solve problems, some super smart and interesting people and a really well ran event.
I get the above might seem critical, and to an extent it is, but I still feel like I got value out of the day, even if a lot of that value was self driven.
There's a few things I'd like to see changed, primarily a change in structure to the keynote to give more of a break in the marketing during the last hour, but nothing overly drastic.
Realistically the day I've been most excited about for this trip hasn't been the first day, but the second. A lot of the talks seem a lot more community and approach focused as opposed to tools. With any luck I'll be writing something similar tomorrow night ( with pictures if my phone behaves ) and sharing my views on what more I'd like to see going forward.