Community is an area of great interest to me. As the evangelist for VictorOps, I’m tapped with many challenges and responsibilities. Not only do I try to provide useful guidance and feedback regarding VictorOps and DevOps best practices, but also bring together customers and partners with shared interest and excitement for what we are building to make on-call suck less. If there is a group in which one could model how to build a great community after, it’s Chef and this year’s ChefConf is a testament to that.

Taking place in the Santa Clara Convention Center, ChefConf offered three days of deep discussions, collaborative presentations, technical training, and hands-on labs geared toward automating infrastructure and the DevOps concept of continuous delivery. The entire event was a perfect reflection on how Chef has and continues to grow an amazing community.

chefconf-2015Day One

Kicking things off with the “Welcome Reception” Tuesday evening, the excitement and overwhelming amount of visitors to our booth was amazing. It was great to see so many new faces and reconnect with others I haven’t seen since the close of the 2014 conference season. The discussions had with folks wanting to understand how we are different in the efforts to make “being on-call suck less” were so rewarding. Those who are actually on-call as part of their job.. get it. They just get it.

Day Two

Things really got exciting with Wednesday morning’s keynote beginning with a hilarious new video titled “Eggs 365” starring Nathen Harvey, Jez Humble, and Adam Jacob.

Eggs 365

Click to watch video

Following the video, Chef CEO Barry Crist, as well as Seth Falcon (Engineering Lead @ Chef) & James Casey (VP of Engineering @ Chef) announced their newest tool named simply “Chef Delivery”, a new DevOps workflow product that enables the continuous delivery of infrastructure, runtime environments (including containers) and applications. This new workflow allows you to take a change from a developers workstation through automated testing .. all the way out to “Production” and do it simpler and quicker than anything else currently available.

buzzOne of my favorite talks of the day was from our friends at Disney, discussing how they are automating the enterprise with Supermarket Containers and Business Intelligence. If you’ve never seen a talk on DevOps or the tools used by the Disney team, I highly suggest it.  Jason Cox brings the “Imagineer” perspective to the DevOps movement with excitement and energy that is refreshing. Not to mention an on-screen appearance by Buzz Lightyear reinforcing Disney’s commitment to DevOps.

Others from the Disney team included interesting perspectives on the big picture of how Disney continues to innovate on frontiers as obscure as continuous delivery with talks from several members of their team, including Brian Scott (who will be presenting at the upcoming DevOpsDays – Rockies).

DJ

Later that evening, the day ended with an awesome private party at Levi’s Stadium with great food, drink, and music DJ’d by Darek Mazzone.

Day Three

Thursday morning’s keynote kicked off with Chef CTO Adam Jacob reminding us that the DevOps culture goes beyond the “Dev” and “Ops” teams followed by a full day of great speakers.

My favorite of the day was Jessica DeVita‘s “Automate what you can, document what you can’t. And have the wisdom to understand the difference.” as this falls perfectly in-line with our stance regarding incident management. Anyone who has been responsible for being on-call recognizes that simply being alerted to a problem isn’t nearly enough.  The alert is just step one of the incident lifecycle. By automating what can be automated and surfacing great context and documentation (i.e. runbooks) practically anyone who has to respond to an alert has a strong advantage as they enter the fight.

“Community”

Chef has done an amazing job of growing their community and the fact that ChefConf has grown to over 1500 participants and attendees in just a few years is evidence of that. Everyone in attendance is genuinely interested in learning and helping one another, even when they may be considered competitors within the space.

One thing that continues to surprise and inspire me about the DevOps world is that it’s most certainly something people are passionate about and serves a much higher purpose than simply the bottom line of your own company’s balance sheet. Everyone sees the value in the growing number of tools and ideas and there is a clear and focused goal that is in perfect synchronization by all.

Want more? Check out the wrap-up with Mary Thengvall, Nathan Harvey and Adam Jacob.