Tag Archives: unconference

Awesome Austin Tech Meetups

Austin is such a great place to be a techie.

  • The Austin Cloud User Group (I help run it) meets every third Tuesday evening, and we’ve ben having 50+ people come in to check out some awesome stuff.  Next meeting Feb 21 on Puppet, hosted by Pervasive.
  • The Agile Austin DevOps SIG meets fourth Wednesdays, we had our meeting today and had about 20 attendees, hosted by CA/Hyperformix. I also help run that one.
  • The Austin Big Data User Group is back meeting – next one is tomorrow night! Hosted by Bazaarvoice.
  • The Austin OWASP chapter is one of the biggest and most active in the country, and also meets monthly, hosted by National Instruments. Fellow Agile Admin James Wickett helps run that group.
  • The Cloud Security Alliance, Austin chapter is just getting started but has a lot of momentum and we’re coordinating with them from the ACUG and OWASP sides. Their first meeting is tonight, come out!

There are others but those are my favorites and therefore the coolest by definition.

There’s also cool events coming up you should keep an eye out for.

  • DevOpsDays Austin, Apr 2-3, hosted by National Instruments, and this’ll be big! Patrick Debois and the whole crew of DevOps illuminati will be here. Now taking sponsors and speakers! Register now!
  • AppSec USA 2012, Oct 23-26 – Austin OWASP kicks so much ass with LASCON that the annual OWASP convention is coming here to Austin this year!
  • South by Southwest Interactive, March 9-13 – quickly becoming theWeb conference in the flyover states :-). Lots of stuff happens during it, like:
    • Austin Cloud/DevOps party courtesy GeekAustin (ACUG is a community sponsor). March 10.
    • CloudCamp – Dave Nielsen will be bringing a CloudCamp to Austin again this year during SXSWi. Details TBD, sounding like Mar 11 maybe.
  • The Cloud Security Alliance and ACUG are hoping to put together an Austin cloud conference, too. Maybe early 2013.

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DevOps Time!

All right!  After the last three days of Velocity 2010, we’ve talked a lot about ops and even hinted at devops, although often in a “recycled from previous Velocity” fashion.  But today it’s time to mainline it with DevOpsDays!

I’m going to be too busy actually participating to do full writeups like I did from Velocity, but I’ll distill down the best takeaways and bring them here as soon as I can.  If you just can’t wait and aren’t here, follow along on twitter at #devopsdays!

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Velocity and DevOpsDays

Two of the three agile admins – myself and Peco – will be in Santa Clara for Velocity next week, and DevOpsDays following in Mountain View.  If you’re going to be there (or lurk in the Silicon Valley area) feel free and ping us to meet up!

We’ll be blogging up all the fun from both events, though often we start out with liveblogging and then fall behind and the final parts don’t come out till somewhat after.  But, that’s life in the big city.

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Another CloudCamp Austin Wrapup

James already posted, but I took notes too so here’s my thoughts!

CloudCamp was a great time.  Dave Nielsen did a great job facilitating it.  Pervasive Software hosted the shindig.  It started with Mike Hoskins, Pervasive CTO, telling us about how they started an “innovation lab” to reinvigorate Pervasive after being in business for 25 years, and that led to their DataCloud2 product hosted on EC2.

Then there were three lightning talks.

Barton James, Dell cloud evangelist, talked about the continuum between traditional compute to private cloud to public cloud, and how the midsection of that curve will shift over time to solidly center over private cloud.  I think that’s accurate; all the data center nonsense of the last number of years is certainly starting to convince us that you only want to manage hardware if there’s no other choice…   He talked about paths to the cloud- either starting with virtualization and then adding on capabilities until something is really cloud-ready, or just greenfielding something new (that’s what we’re doing!). It was good, apparently Dell has thought more about the cloud since their original ill-conceived attempt to trademark it as a server name.

Oscar Padilla, a senior engineer with Pervasive, spoke about their path moving their existing software to the cloud (very interesting to us,  since we’re doing the same) and the duality in being a both a cloud consumer (Amazon IaaS) and a cloud provider (Pervasive’s SaaS product).  This is an increasingly common pattern; I’d say that being a SaaS provider and not using IaaS  (unless you’re really huge) is likely a mistake on your part.  He also talked about the importance of adding an API so others can leverage your software – this is a huge point and it’s bizarre to me other people still aren’t getting this.

Finally, Walter Falk of IBM spoke about how the hybrid cloud is the bomb.  Hybrid cloud, or “cloud bursting,” is where you run your own nice and cheap local hardware for minimum loads and scale into the cloud for extra capacity.  He also showed a diagram indicating what kinds of workloads are low hanging fruit for cloudification (information intensive, isolated workloads, mature processes…  You’ve probably all seen the slide by now).  And he talked about how ecosystem is very important even for IBM – other people doing good stuff in the space.  “Go to ibm.com/cloud!”

Then we did a little impromptu panel thing, where I and some other folks were drafted up to answer questions.  This revealed something interesting, which is that a LOT of the people there were apparently coming from the cloud provider point of view, and had questions about power consumption and what hypervisor options there are.  As an IaaS consumer/SaaS provider, my main input there is “I don’t want to care about all that nonsense, thus I use IaaS!”   I answered a question about “how to define PaaS,” but my response was not thrilling enough to relate here.

Next came the conference sessions – we did the normal unconference thing of random people writing down topics and doing shows of hands on who cares about that.  The ones that got the largest response were Application Architecture for the Cloud and Systems Management for Cloud Consumers (the latter was mine; the panel gave me the heads up that I’d best add “consumers” to the end of that to not get stuck in storage-container-datacenter hell).

I didn’t go to Application Architecture for the Cloud but spoke to our guys that did and they did something that IMO should have been done in the larger group – did some quick demographics voting!  Bill, one of our devs, tells me that the responses were:

  • What language are you using?  2/3 Java, 1/3 .NET.
  • What cloud are you using?  Vast majority Amazon (even among the .NETters), notable minority Azure, trace amounts of others.
  • Are you internal IT or product focused?  50/50 split.
  • Are you using noSQL stuff?  A small number.
  • Are you using Rails?  No.
  • Are you using SOA/SOAP stuff?  No.
  • Are you using memcache?  A couple are, but more are doing app level caching with JPA or whatnot.

James covered the goings-on in Systems Management for the Cloud well; besides the specific tool takeaways I enjoyed the quote from one of the ServiceMesh guys about the practice of taking your traditional static infrastructure and just implementing it on the cloud without rearchitecting to take advantage of its dynamic nature is called “moving shit to shit.”  I was very impressed with the guys from ServiceMesh and from Pervasive that we met there; we’ve all already hooked up and done lunch to talk more.  All great guys doing some cutting edge stuff.

The last session was on Software to SaaS – taking existing software you sell for on premise use and turning it into a cloud offering.  Phil Fritz from IBM broke a lot of it down very accurately – there are some challenges from the customer side (trust, opex vs capex) but the vast majority of problems you face are internal.  And only a few of those internal issues are really technical in the “make it work in the cloud” sense, the rest are about metering, billing, the sales force not selling it because they don’t understand it or it’s against their usual commission model, forking of code and testing inefficiency, (IBM has a strict rule that there’s not a separate SaaS branch of the software, you have to fold fixes into trunk, which is extremely wise).  This is all very good stuff – our main issues with bringing SaaS to market similarly hasn’t been the technical side, it’s been the product marketers’ doubt, the “it’s not supported” in our ERP/billing system, sales and support staff education…

Then there was a wrapup, but it was like 10 at night on a weeknight so most of the norms had cleared out already.

In closing, it was an awesome event and we made some great contacts for further discussion.  Thanks to Dave and Pervasive for bringing CloudCamp to Austin, and I hope to see another soon!

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CloudCamp Austin Is Soon!

Mark your calendars; Thursday of next week (June 10) is CloudCamp here in Austin!  It’s in North Austin at Pervasive’s offices (Riata Trace) from 5:30-10:00 PM.  Get details and sign up here.

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Come to CloudCamp Austin 2!

The second CloudCamp in Austin is happening June 10.  It’s an unconference about, of course, cloud computing.  Read about it and sign up here!

I missed the first one but loved OpsCamp so I’m going!

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OpsCamp Debrief

I went to OpsCamp this last weekend here in Austin, a get-together for Web operations folks specifically focusing on the cloud, and it was a great time!  Here’s my after action report.

The event invite said it was in the Spider House, a cool local coffee bar/normal bar.  I hadn’t been there before, but other people that had said “That’s insane!  They’ll never fit that many people!  There’s outside seating but it’s freezing out!”  That gave me some degree of trepidation, but I still racked out in time to get downtown by 8 AM on a Saturday (sigh!).  Happily, it turned out that the event was really in the adjacent music/whatnot venue also owned by Spider House, the United States Art Authority, which they kindly allowed us to use for free!  There were a lot of people there; we weren’t overfilling the place but it was definitely at capacity, there were near 100 people in attendance.

I had just heard of OpsCamp through word of mouth, and figured it was just going to be a gathering of local Austin Web ops types.  Which would be entertaining enough, certainly.  But as I looked around the room I started recognizing a lot of guys from Velocity and other major shows; CEOs and other high ranked guys from various Web ops related tool companies.  Sponsors included John Willis and Adam Jacob (creator of Chef) from Opscode , Luke Kanies from Reductive Labs (creator of Puppet), Damon Edwards and Alex Honor from DTO Solutions (formerly ControlTier), Mark Hinkle and Matt Ray from Zenoss, Dave Nielsen (CloudCamp), Michael Coté (Redmonk), Bitnami, Spiceworks, and Rackspace Cloud.  Other than that, there were a lot of random Austinites and some guys from big local outfits (Dell, IBM).

You can read all the tweets about the event if you swing that way.

OpsCamp kinda grew out of an earlier thing, BarCampESM, also in Austin two years ago.  I never heard about that, wish I had.

How It Went

I had never been to an “unconference” before.  Basically there’s no set agenda, it’s self-emergent.  It worked pretty well.  I’ll describe the process a bit for other noobs.

First, there was a round of lightning talks.  Brett from Rackspace noted that “size matters,” Bill from Zenoss said “monitoring is important,” and Luke from Reductive claimed that “in 2-4 years ‘cloud’ won’t be a big deal, it’ll just be how people are doing things – unless you’re a jackass.”

Then it was time for sessions.  People got up and wrote a proposed session name on a piece of paper and then went in front of the group and pitched it, a hand-count of “how many people find this interesting” was taken.

Candidates included:

  • service level to resolution
  • physical access to your cloud assets
  • autodiscovery of systems
  • decompose monitoring into tool chain
  • tool chain for automatic provisioning
  • monitoring from the cloud
  • monitoring in the cloud – widely dispersed components
  • agent based monitoring evolution
  • devops is the debil – change to the role of sysadmins
  • And more

We decided that so many of these touched on two major topics that we should do group discussions on them before going to sessions.  They were:

  • monitoring in the cloud
  • config mgmt in the cloud

This seemed like a good idea; these are indeed the two major areas of concern when trying to move to the cloud.

Sadly, the whole-group discussions, especially the monitoring one, were unfruitful.  For a long ass time people threw out brilliant quips about “Why would you bother monitoring a server anyway” and other such high-theory wonkery.  I got zero value out of these, which was sad because the topics were crucially interesting – just too unfocused; you had people coming at the problem 100 different ways in sound bytes.  The only note I bothered to write down was that “monitoring porn” (too many metrics) makes it hard to do correlation.  We had that problem here, and invested in a (horrors) non open-source tool, Opnet Panorama, that has an advanced analytics and correlation engine that can make some sense of tens of thousands of metrics for exactly that reason.


There were three sessions.  I didn’t take many notes in the first one because, being a Web ops guy, I was having to work a release simultaneously with attending OpsCamp 😛

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Come To OpsCamp!

Next weekend, Jan 30 2009, there’s a Web Ops get-together here in Austin called OpsCamp!  It’ll be a Web ops “unconference” with a cloud focus.  Right up our alley!  We hope to see you there.

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