7 takeaways from DevOps Days Austin

Block Tables

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at DevOpsDays Austin and continue to be impressed with the enthusiasm and collaborative nature of the DOD events.  We also managed to have a very robust and engaged twitter backchannel thanks to an impressive pace set by Gene Kim!

I’ve still got a 5+ post backlog from the OpenStack summit, but wanted to do a quick post while it’s top of mind.

My takeaways from DevOpsDays Austin:

  1. DevOpsDays spends a lot of time talking about culture.  I’m a huge believer on the importance of culture as the foundation for the type of fundamental changes that we’re making in the IT industry; however, it’s also a sign that we’re still in the minority if we have to talk about culture evangelism.
  2. Process and DevOps are tightly coupled.  It’s very clear that Lean/Agile/Kanban are essential for DevOps success (nice job by Dominica DeGrandis).  No one even suggested DevOps+Waterfall as a joke (but Patrick Debois had a picture of a xeroxed butt in his preso which is pretty close).
  3. Still need more Devs people to show up!  My feeling is that we’ve got a lot of operators who are engaging with developers and fewer developers who are engaging with operators (the “opsdev” people).
  4. Chef Omnibus installer is very compelling.  This approach addresses issues with packaging that were created because we did not have configuration management.  Now that we have good tooling we separate the concerns between bits, configuration, services and dependencies.  This is one thing to watch and something I expect to see in Crowbar.
  5. The old mantra still holds: If something is hard, do it more often.
  6. Eli Goldratt’s The Goal is alive again thanks to Gene Kims’s smart new novel, The Phoenix project, about DevOps and IT  (I highly recommend both, start with Kim).
  7. Not DevOps, but 3D printing is awesome.  This is clearly a game changing technology; however, it takes some effort to get right.  Dell brought a Solidoodle 3D printer to the event to try and print OpenStack & Crowbar logos (watch for this in the future).

I’d be interested in hearing what other people found interesting!  Please comment here and let me know.

The power of a list with three things (reading recommendations)

Over breakfast with fellow Dell cloud thinker and general deep thinker Michael Cote, he suggested that we two options for something.  I was quick to add a third and Cote objected because “having three options is a marketing thing to make you happier with the choices.”   He’s right but didn’t have the sources to backup the comment.  Since I was looking them up for Cote, I figured they’d be worth posting too:

  1. Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational  (covers the theory and it funny)
  2. Rom Brafman’s Sway (very pragmatic)
  3. Leonard Mlodinow Drunkard’s Walk (if you like statistics)

Personally, I believe that there are always FIVE options.   People generally over look the extreme choices like “do nothing” or  “all in.”   For example, when discussing a product architecture the two options that IMHO should always be on the table include “scrap the project” and “live with the problem.”

We never take the extra options, but they help clarify the three moderate choices.  Of course, this makes more sense after you read the above books.  So read the books (there are 3), don’t read the books, or setup personal interviews with the authors to get the real story.   The choice is yours!

OpenStack: Five Challenges & Conference Observations

I was part of the Dell contingent at the OpenStack design conference earlier in the month.  The conference opened a new chapter for the project because the number of contributing companies reached critical mass.  That means that the core committers are no longer employed by just one or two entities; instead, there are more moneyed interests rubbing elbows and figuring out how to collaborate. 

From my perspective (from interview with @Cote ), this changed the tone of the conference from more future looking to pragmatic

That does not mean that everything is sunshine and rainbows for OpenStack clouds, there are real issues to be resolved.  IMHO, the top issues for OpenStack are:

  1. API implementation vs specification
  2. Building up coverage on continuous integration
  3. Ensuring that we can deploy consistently in multi-node systems
  4. Getting contributions from new members
  5. Figuring out which projects are code, satellite, missing or junk.

Of these issues, I’ve been reconsidering my position favoring API via Implementation over specification (past position).  This has been a subject of debate on my team at Dell and I like Greg Althaus’ succinct articulation of the problem with implementation driven API: “it is not fair.”  This also ends up being a branding issues for OpenStack because governance needs to figure out which is a “real” OpenStack cloud deployment that can use the brand.  Does it have to be 100% of the source?  What about extensions?  What if it uses the API with an alternate implementation? 

Of the other issues, most are related to maturity.  I think #2 needs pressure by and commitment from the larger players (Dell very much included).  Crowbar and the deployment blueprint is our answer #3.  Shouting the “don’t fork it up” chorus from the roof tops addresses contributions while #5 will require some strong governance and inevitably create some hurt feelings.

Cote & Rob interview: Crowbar+OpenStack Summit/Conference Reflections (40 mins)

I’m working on a larger post about the OpenStack Summit around API Implementation vs. Specification. You can have a preview of that AND A LOT OF OTHER STUFF (OpenStack, Crowbar, lunch) in this 40 minute interview w/ Michael Cote.

Setting: Dell World
Interview w/ @Cote at the Hilton Hotel Lobby on 6th street in Austin.

I know that Cote’s post does not have a time marker for easy navigation; however, I added them to help guide your navigation in the interview (link for audio) if you want to jump around.

  • 0:00 Introductions
  • 1:00 OpenStack
    • 1:00 Essex Conference – what is it, naming conventions
    • 2:45 Diablo is adding projects from incubation (Keystone, Dashboard,Quantum,
    • 5:30 OpenStack vs. Amazon – “OpenStack has ambitions.” We see it as a “platform for innovation.”
    • 6:30 OpenStack is a competitor for Amazon. It implements the EC2 APIs.
    • 7:30 How are people managing the evolving nature?
    • 8:20 We’re going to see OpenStack in production for the next release based on what we see in our deal flow.
    • 9:00 Every user that comes on adds momentum
    • 9:30 Rackspace setting up the OpenStack foundation is a reflection of the speed of adoption
    • 11:15 Our message is “we’re doing it, we’re in the field.” We are very hands on
    • 11:15 We chose early on to focus on helping deployment to help drive adoption
    • 12:00 “Our first test for partners is: Are you contributing back to the community?”
    • 12:44 The community told us “if you are participating then you are going to open source.” Our commits for OpenStack are live and in the open on our github.
    • 13:40 Why Github? We’re happy with it.
    • 14:20 OpenStack is using Gerrit because they have a gated trunk. They are migrated to Github
    • 15:20 APIs have been a big topic for OpenStack
    • 16:00 Do you track who is forking and following? Yes. We also have a listserv. We are trying to do a better job managing the Crowbar community. We know we need to do a better job.
    • 17:30 OpenStack is defined by its Implementation. That’s “an effective way to move the project forward quickly;” however, we’re getting to a point where people want to use alternate implementations.
    • 19:20 Implementation vs Specification is like the SOAP vs REST debate
    • 20:05 This is something the community needs to wrestle with
    • 21:45 Specification would allow the efforts to scale. The more people consume the API, the more people care about how it operates
    • 22:30 “Bugs can become the API”
    • 23:10 Asia and Europe are very active. We are seeing a ton of activity overseas.
  • 23:30 Crowbar
    • 24:00 Crowbar arose out of our need to deploy cloud software regardless of customer infrastructure
    • 24:45 We would show up and the customer needed all this cloud infrastructure. We created Crowbar because we always needed this
    • 26:00 We extended Chef because we had to do the initial bring-up including BIOS and RAID
    • 26:45 We added a state machine and an orchestration layer
    • 27:45 Updating the system is a huge component. Every month you may be upgrading the infrastructure!
    • 28:30 In our lab, we build whole clouds multiple times a day
    • 29:45 Crowbar is the “cloud unboxer”
    • 30:00 We modularized Crowbar with barclamps. Hadoop and OpenStack are a series of barclamps. Over 5 for each
    • 31:00 Barclamps are applied as layers. We are using that as a term to define DevOps
    • 31:15 We are using Crowbar to help message that we understand DevOps
    • 31:45 Soup vs Sandwich analogy – Images are like soup while DevOps is like a sandwich.
    • 32:45 If you don’t want something in a 1000 server deployment, DevOps lets you make a small change. Gives you flexibility.
    • 33:45 We added Cloud Foundry
    • 34:00 We’ve made it so easy with barclamps that partners are coming to us with ideas for barclamps. It’s like “changing the meat for the sandwich.”
    • 34:30 Dreamhost Ceph team created a barclamp and was actually running a majority of the Crowbar demos at the OpenStack conference
  • 35:25 What’s the future for Crowbar?
    • 35:30 More aspects of the infrastructure as open source
    • 35:45 More Hardware
    • 36:00 Multiple operating systems at the same time (XenServer, ESX, etc)
    • 36:30 Larger scale
    • 36:50 More types of infrastructure: storage & network
    • 37:40 Scalr shout out
    • 38:00 We know we need to collaborate more with our community
    • 38:30 The first step is to download it and try. Read my blog and sign up for the list serve
    • 39:00 CROWBAR IS NOT DELL SPECIFIC – we are working with people who want to create support for other vendor’s hardware. This benefits Dell.
    • 39:40 We don’t pretend that our customers are single vendor