Hitting the West Coast: Velocity 2014 and DevOpsDays Silicon Valley

Jason Hand - July 09, 2014

Last week I had the pleasure of attending two wonderful events in the DevOps space - the O’Reilly Velocity Conference and DevOpsDays Silicon Valley. The week started with the Velocity conference which is quite large and took place over the course of 3 full days.

Coming from several tech startups, I had grown to think of velocity as “how fast a company is growing”. As a function of the company’s Gross Margin and Sales Volumes, velocity can be the difference between success and failure for a new business. Grow too slowly, and there is a chance you might run out of runway too quickly, which will lead to all kinds of pressures and consequences. That is growth velocity in the startup world.


However, in the tech world, there’s another obvious way to think about velocity. That is “performance” and that’s what the O’Reilly Velocity conference is designed to put under the microscope. Velocity bills itself as an event for web ops and tech professionals to learn from peers, exchange ideas with experts, and share best practices and lessons learned with regard to web and mobile application performance. Basically, it’s the devs, engineers and ops specialists from all the best & brightest companies, collaborating about how to perform better, whether in a product, service or personal setting.

Anyone in the web and mobile application space should attend this event if for no other reason to listen to the thought leaders of our industry present on relevant topics and engage in open discussions. Two of the more interesting talks were: “A Look at Looking in the Mirror: PostMortems” by J. Paul Reed and “Mean Time To Sleep” by Laurie Denness and Ryan Frantz (of Etsy) particularly because in both presentations, the subject fell heavy on post-mortems - a problem that VictorOps has recently addressed for our customers.


I also suggest making your way to as many of the exhibitors as possible. Cool swag aside, there are a lot of really amazing companies out there doing stuff you may not have known was possible. One of the exhibitors that I was able to catch a full demo from was DataDog.  Their custom dashboard feature allowing users detailed visibility into their apps and services is quite powerful. It’s worth every minute of your time to absorb the entire conference and stop and visit as many exhibitors as time allows.

Once we wrapped up at Velocity, we spent the following two days at DevOpsDays - Silicon Valley. This event resides right at the heart of the DevOps movement. With DevOpsDays events in most major cities around the world, I highly recommend making it to one in your area in order to get some solid face time with companies and individuals driving the idea of bringing developers and operations out of their silos and straight to the front line of building and managing great apps and infrastructure.


The DevOpsDays format consists of your standard exhibit hall, 30 minute presentations on various technology topics, Ignite talks and (IMO) the most useful portion of the event, Open Space Talks. This format allows attendees to suggest any topic they are interested in and then lead a discussion on it with a group of other interested members.

Of everything I attended the entire week, I think the Open Space talks were the most interesting and thought-provoking. As an evangelist for VictorOps, the Open Space discussion on Outages struck a chord the most with me (obviously), but to be honest, all of them looked to provide valuable information and engaging dialogue with some really smart people.

Overall, my visit to the Silicon Valley was a sweeping reminder of how many talented individuals and companies are out there doing things that literally blow me away.  I can’t wait to attend future O’Reilly Velocity conferences (New York, I’m looking at you!) and I’m super stoked to visit Minneapolis next week for another DevOpsDays event. While I love that our company is based in Boulder, it’s nice to get out of the bubble every once in a while.