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Key Takeaways from DevOps Days Ljubljana 2015

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DevOps Days Ljubljana 2015 took place on the 3rd and 4th April and talks covered the full CAMS spectrum: Culture, Automation, Measurement and Sharing.

Cultural issues ranged from Oliver Hankeln's handling failure (anti-patterns) to Avishai Ish-Shalom's call for (agile) organizations beyond the cargo cult. Takeaways from other culture-related talks include Sabine Bernecker-Bendixen "I'm OK - You're OK" mantra, from the work of Thomas A. Harris and how companies interested in changing their culture should start prioritizing their hiring process.

A couple of talks shared honest accounts of failures and challenges in their path to a DevOps culture. Máté Gulyás reflected on the need to leave egos out the door, aligning expectations between everyone involved and focusing on communication, not tools. Gulyás also presented a curious analogy between git and DevOps flows: "devops pull" is ideal (people pro-actively take initiative to change), "devops push" is necessary sometimes (gently nudge people to modify their way of work to improve the overall system output) and occasionally a "devops push -force" is the only way to go, but should be used with extreme care as imposing a change that doesn't produce the expected benefits can kill trust and handicap all future changes. Jure Koren talked about how his team tried to move to a Docker-based environment in production to stop bad habits of short circuiting the delivery process but ended up realizing cultural problems needed to be fixed simultaneously.

Several technical talks covered topics from automating operational patterns (for example remediation of common failures) and facilitating troubleshooting with information aggregation using Stackstorm, to solving package dependencies at the OS level with a functional language (Nix and NixOS). Red Hat presented their work with Kubernetes, in particular Fabric8 (for aggregating logs and metrics and for auto-scaling) and Jube (Windows based Kubernetes-like system using zip images in place of containers). Two particular technical dives were Prezi's migration path (and challenges) from a monolithic architecture to microservices and Infinum's journey from the Android 2.2 dark ages (lack of tests and tools, activities with over 1k LOC, no static checks) to today's full-fledged continuous integration and delivery system.

Measurement was represented by Avishai Ish-Shalom's ignite talk on what's wrong with monitoring: not business centric, not customized for different systems (business rules), not focused on continuous improvement, too often delegated to a single provider or tool and applications too often under monitored.

Other impromptu ignite talks ranged from dealing with DNS Denial-of-service attacks, to raising diversity in tech, showing appreciation in the face of failure and a journey from scripting and monitoring nightmare to configuration management and sensible alerting.

As traditional in DevOps Days, the remaining of the conference was dedicated to open space where attendees could share experiences and discuss solutions to their particular problems. According to the organizers DevOps Days Ljubljana grew circa 40% from 2014 to 2015 (more than 80 attendees from Slovenia and neighboring countries).

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