Traveling to San Francisco for the DevOps Enterprise conference has been a transformational event for me. Even though I had been aware of the success stories of companies like Target, Disney, Raytheon, it was quite a different matter to experience their stories in person.

The most critical lesson from day one for me was to focus on the community to help you remain positive, motivated, educated and most importantly accelerate the adoption of the DevOps movement in your organization. Critical: find the people who are like-minded and align with them.

The message was supported throughout the various talks we listened to. In the spirit of building community, I have included the "I need help with" sections for each speaker as applicable below. If you have ideas on how to help them with their DevOps transformation, tweet to them!

TL;DR version for non-conference attendees, here are the talks that resonated the most with me:

Ross Clanton & Heather Mickman; DevOps @ Target

  • Why I liked it? I believe Target's DevOps journey is very similar to what we are experiencing in Red Hat IT.
  • Best quote:

    "We have silos in our silos." -Heather Mickman

  • Compelling idea to use with your teams: Flash Builds, a hack day which consists of two 4 hour sprints, all scrum and super high speed... you need a very disciplined scrum master to succeed.
  • Cool thing to check out: Target's DevOps flipboard
  • Most important takeaway: silos will always be in the enterprise. Figure out different ways to communicate across the boundaries. Encourage people to use their outside voice (not in volume)-- get involved in your external community.
  • What they need help with: Aligning incentives and shifting to a blameless culture. Accelerating DevOps transformation.

Jason Cox; Disney DevOps – To Infinity and Beyond

  • Why I liked it? Selfish Disney guest here... I was easily won over by the opening Star Wars-like sequence and references to Disney characters throughout the presentation. Disney has always had the ability to inspire people, and this presentation inspired the HECK out of me.
  • Best quote (there are two!):

    "Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future." -Walt Disney
    "No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world." -Robin Williams

  • Compelling idea to use with your teams: Disney has an internal developer summit series to help build a strong collaborative developer community. Red Hat IT sponsors monthly lightning talks internally, but I would personally like to see adoption of this increase across the entire company.
  • Cool thing to check out: Sensu
  • Most important takeaway: Be patient, don't give up. Leadership support will increase your DevOps adoption. Tools absolutely make a difference, so be careful what you pick. And the most important part is your people.
  • What he needs help with: I legit dropped the ball here. I was so wowed by the end video, I completely did not catch this. :D

Dianne Marsh, Netflix, Roy Rapoport, Netflix & Damon Edward, DTO Solution; The Non-Panel, aka "go find the unicorn and do an autopsy on stage."

  • Why I liked it? It was nice to have an open Q&A with a "DevOps Unicorn" but I also appreciated the fact that the panel made the unicorn feel a little more attainable and human.
  • Best quote:

    "It's not as if your ops person knows most of the time what they are actually pushing. Developers are the people who know the best way to fix the product they are pushing to production. We don't hire people who are not interested in being responsible for their code." -Dianne Marsh & Roy Rapoport

  • Compelling idea to use with your teams: Blameless incident reviews. Never point fingers at others, instead always be introspective about what you could have done better; "My tool should have done xyz, etc." The result is you walk away with things you should do to make things better for the next time.
  • Cool thing to check out: Inside the Netflix Culture & Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility
  • Most important takeaway: Product Owners of the Agile world need to start representing -- I loved the conversation about teams searching out others in the organization that are building similar functionality. It seems almost a critical component of what a product owner does-- to be aware of what folks need and why they need it and be able to coordinate across product teams to help deliver the functionality.

Cameron Haight, Gartner; Patterns of DevOps Adoption

  • Why I liked it? The first metrics focused presentation of the conference; a topic that is near and dear to me currently in my job.
  • Best quote:

    "What is the biggest impediment to DevOps adoption? Changing our IT organizational culture to encourage innovation and risk." -Cameron Haight

  • Compelling idea to use with your teams: Data-Driven DevOps -- types of things you can measure: MTTR, Cycle Time, Deployment Frequency, User Satisfaction, Response Time, Lead Time, Releases per Month, Deployment Success Rate, Cost per Transaction, etc.
  • Cool thing to check out: Gartner's DevOps blueprint
  • Most important takeaway: DevOps is not about increasing risk, it's actually about improving compliance. Additionally, be wary of companies that insist their tool is now a "DevOps tool." You need constant vigilance regarding vendor claims about their tooling.

Mark Schwartz, DHS; How DevOps Can Fix Federal Government IT

  • Why I liked it? It was because of Mark - he was both charming and humble at the same time. He added a face to the sometimes easy assumption that the government is just a "faceless bureaucracy." Instead, it is filled with people trying to do what they think is best.
  • Best quote:

    "If some day you see that the chaos monkey has shut down the Department of Homeland Security - take it as a success." -Mark Schwartz

    "I'm hoping to be on Jon Stewart some day. It's one of my ambitions." -Mark Schwartz

  • Compelling idea to use with your teams: Push compliance issues to the front of your development process. I also appreciated the idea that you could test for FISMA regulations, having come from a company that had to worry about those.
  • Cool thing to check out: Mark's blog
  • Most important takeaway: The government has a deliberately low trust environment for a reason, but they still have managed to move towards agile and DevOps adoption. That says a lot, folks.

I'd be remiss in not bringing attention to the official line-up of the day. So many great presentations, most are being recorded and hopefully be posted on the main conference website in the near future.

Last updated: June 14, 2023