Monitorama 2015: Soaking up Portland

Tara Calihman - June 24, 2015

monitorama-logo-with-mark-300Last week, we took our road show to Stumptown and attended Monitorama. In regards to content, venue and audience, the conference was definitely as good as (if not better than) last year but when it came to our presence at the show, this year was a different story.

What a difference…

Last year, our product was very new and no one had really heard of us. This year, we were mentioned onstage by someone talking about how to give alerts better context. We heard from many happy customers, received hugs from those who love what we’re doing and spread the word of ChatOps. This year, we had users advocating for us & giving demos on our behalf to others.



So much good content.

One of the draws of Monitorama is that it’s a single-track conference. That means that all 600 attendees hear the same talks, in the same space, at the same time. This is huge when it comes to having conversations around the content presented on stage. And it also makes this conference feel smaller and more intimate.

Some of the speakers included….

  • Camille Fournier, CTO of Rent the Runway, talked about the history of microservices. She stressed the importance of consistency and clarity, over creativity, when setting up alerts. Additionally, she warned that monitoring does not actually take the place of testing.

  • Roy Rapoport, of Netflix, presented on Operational Metrics. He brought up the OODA loop (one of many who did), talked MTTD (Mean Time To Detection) and covered the implications for monitoring: make it easy, scalable, pluggable, then eventually, ruthlessly cull.

  • James Turnbull, VP of Engineering at Kickstarter, spoke about how traditional monitoring sucks because it’s focused on the wrong things, it’s archaic and it’s not easily manageable. He also pointed out that by talking to your customers you can find out easily what parts of your infrastructure you should actually care about. Since he’s written the book on monitoring (quite literally - The Art of Monitoring), I trust his advice on the topic.

  • Stephen Boak, co-founder of Opsee, gave a talk about how designers can help with building better monitoring systems. The first thing they can do is to walk people down the path from using to experiencing. The choices that a company makes around design determines their priorities. He brought up the importance of context within monitoring and gave us a shout-out for our transmogrifier functionality. (WOOT!)

  • Dan Frank, Danielle Sucher and Franklin Hu, a trio from Stripe, gave a great team presentation about introducing failure into their systems under the guise of a company game day. I loved hearing their strategies for getting company buy-in to take down prod. You can see more from their talk here.

Other interesting presentations involved incident response, engineering happiness and user research. These three talks especially resonated since these topics have been top of mind recently, both internally at our company and in my brain. I’ll be digging into the meat of those talks in separate blog posts - that’s how good they were.

(If you want to see videos of any of these talks, they were all just posted online.)



We hosted another happy hour this year and it proved to be just as packed as last year. Funny how motivating an open bar can be. It was fabulous that our current customers showed up, as well as those looking to learn more. We gave out wolf shirts, demos and enjoyed pints of delicious craft brew.

Big thanks to Jason Dixon, his family and all the volunteers that made Monitorama so excellent. Between the good food, the amazing Portland weather and the interesting content on stage, I’m not really sure that anything could have been improved.

See you next year!

(Thanks to Jason Dixon for the use of his monitoring love image.)