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  • Writer's pictureDaiany Palacios

We are all unicorns! - My impressions of the DevOpsDays Kiel 2018

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

We are all unicorns! Those were part the starting words of Sabine, the conference chair, at the beginning of day one. And I couldn’t agree more!

DevOps is definitely not reserved only for those so-called “Unicorns”, any IT organization of any industry sector, of any size can (and should!) “do DevOps”. And it’s precisely in events like this where anyone gets the chance to hear stories from others, learn and share knowledge. The DevOps movement has been around for almost 10 years already after the first DevOpsDays conference was held. Meanwhile, the community has grown a lot and there are plenty of real stories available that proof that anyone can do DevOps. That we are all unicorns.

But beyond that, I think what Sabine meant was that the simple fact that we were all gathered there, starting yet a new edition of the DevOpsDays conference was a clear indicator of our common interest for improvement, a desire to get better, to find out how to maximize our performance in this rapid changing IT world. Because we can do it! We are all unicorns!

And with this inspiring opening, the table was served.

But before starting with the talks, there were some opening words from the Minister-President of the state of Schleswig-Holstein and the Mayor of Kiel. I found really nice that the local politicians show their interest and support for the event because it reinforces the image of Kiel as an important IT hub in northern-Germany. It is specially relevant for the development of the local community, which I think should be one of the purposes of the organizers when bringing a conference like this to their city.

After all the opening rounds, finally the talks began. I don’t intend to go through my impressions of each of the presentations, but rather tell about my personal highlights in general.

The keynotes

The first keynote was held by Dr. Frank Hollenberg about the success factors of DevOps adoptions according to his experience. He didn’t speak any theory, using 5 concrete stories he explained in each case the context, the problem to solve, the measurable goal to achieve, and what they did to solve it. It was his way of sharing the lessons learned with us. He didn’t use any power point (or similar) presentation, but only those 5 stories. And this is an approach that I specially liked because (in my opinion) it forced the audience to pay more attention to what he was saying. Therefore it was for me one of the highlights of day 1.

The keynote of day 2 was held by Avishai Ish-Shalom about “The missing user stories”. It was for me an “eye-opener” that things like technical refactorings or “forgotten” use-cases like supporting the change of an email, the deletion of an account, are usually not present on the team’s backlog. We tend to focus more on “business” use stories and forget that not only the end user of the system is important, but every person interacting with the system in any way is a user. So, the developers are the first users. He formulated these ideas in such a way that I can imagine many people in the audience thinking: Yes! that’s so true! we should definitely do something about it!. In my opinion it was a sharp call to action for everyone to think twice about what user stories the team needs to implement.

The closing keynote of day 2 was held by Dirk Lehmann, it touched what in my opinion is the most important factor of any DevOps initiative: Trust! The title was: “Trust as a foundation of DevOps” Unfortunately I had to miss it in order to catch my train back home. But after reading some tweets with the impressions of the audience being so amazed by the talk, I decided to google it up a bit and it turns out Dirk gave it last year as well, and here is the video:

DevOpsDays Kiel recorded all talks as well and they will be published, but just in case anyone missed that last keynote like me and can’t wait, the link above will do the job ;-)

For me it was really amazing! The best possible closing for the conference.

The rest of the agenda

The program was well balanced between case studies of DevOps adoption, technical talks, innovative topics (for me) like DevOps applied to teams developing AI & Machine Learning algorithms and cultural talks. I had the honor of presenting an ignite talk about why DevOps is important for any Business in order to evolve and become better. Here is a post where you can check it out, but for now let’s focus on the conference as such ;-)

As in any DevOpsDays conference, the afternoons were filled mostly with open spaces. Even though there were almost no suggestions till noon, by the time the agenda needed to be filled, the topics for discussion appeared magically and we could fill the slots. I have the impression that the groups had a nice knowledge exchange and interesting discussions. I participated as well and had a great time telling my stories and hearing also from others.

The evening event on Day 1

We had lots of fun at an irish pub with pizza and drinks listening to a local band playing some country-rock, which was truly entertaining! I had the chance to speak more with other attendees and the organizers in a more relaxed way and getting to know each other a bit more. And the music was really good in my opinion! A fantastic evening indeed!

The local community

I think the conference had around 100 people. I don’t know exactly how many we were, but it felt like the perfect size for such an event. We weren’t too many, but also not too few. And there was a really good mixture of international speakers and local ones, which is not always the case. Especially the good representation of local speakers was for me yet another indicator that we are not too far behind as a community from other major IT-hubs in the world, which is good to know.

I engaged in conversation with lots of people during the breaks and in the open spaces and it was a really interesting experience. It was easy to reach out to the speakers and engage in conversation with them as well. It felt for me like a kind of camp, with the spirit of collaboration and desire to learn from each other. I definitely prefer community events like this over big conferences with business dress code :-P

The catering

Last but not least I would like to make a special mention to the catering of the event. We were very well taken care of, with food, soft drinks, sweets, coffee, tea. Everything we needed. My compliments to the organizers.

In conclusion

Again, my compliment to the organizers. You did a great job putting up a very interesting program and with all the rest I already mentioned. The second edition of the DevOpsDays in Kiel was a huge success in my opinion and I can only look forward to next year’s event. You can be proud! Thanks a lot for enabling such an effective knowledge exchange and inspiring us. We are all unicorns! :-)

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