Impressions from DevOpsDays Moscow 2017

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Impressions from DevOpsDays Moscow 2017

Taking the Stage at DevOpsDays Moscow

The Russian Link

I’m on my way back from the first ever DevOpsDays event in Russia where I had the privilege to share the stage with shockingly gifted and knowledgeable speakers. This may sound like just another DevOpsDays to you, but for me it was a big deal. As some of you may know I was born in Russia and lived in St.Petersburg until the age of 15. I am a native russian speaker, and though I’ve spent almost two thirds of my life in Israel – the link to russian culture has never been broken. So when I saw the event planned on the official DevOpsDays community site – I applied to give a talk and was happy to get accepted.

 

During my 17 years in the industry I never had a chance to work with russian software engineers (not counting the Israeli Russians – these I’ve seen plenty). So I had no idea about how big and developed the Russian IT industry is. Well, we all recently heard that the mighty Russian hackers helped Trump to become president, so I was quite curious to experience all that brainpower firsthand.

I must say – I was not disappointed.

Applauding the Organisers!

First of all – the conference was very well organised. The venue was great, video and sound worked fine and the conference networking app supplied by http://meyou.ru was probably the best I’ve ever seen.

The event was conceived and brought to life by two local IT consulting companies – Logrocon and Express42. Special thanks go to Boris Zlobin, Evgeny Ognevoy, Alexander Titov and Mikhail Krivilev for conducting and keeping up the good vibes all through the day.

But the best thing about the conference are its participants. Both the speakers and the listeners. The Russian devops crowd struck me as very thoughtful, knowledgeable and passionate about their work. All that with a healthy dose of hackerly cynicism.

The Highlights

The keynote was delivered by Jan De Vries who told us about applying Nassim Taleb’s concept of anti-fragility to software architecture and delivery. The talk was good, but no eye-opener for me personally as this same idea was proposed by Asher Sterkin in his presentation at DevOpsDays TLV in 2013.

Interestingly some of the best talks came from big russian institutions and banks. The dev manager and the ops manager from Raiffeisen Bank gave a super-impressive pair talk describing their long and winding road to DevOps. Another great pair talk came from Alpha-Bank – full of humorous but very practical advice on how to implement ‘DevOps without bullshit’.

Leon Fayer came all the way from Baltimore, US to give a fiery ignite about what DevOps is not and also a powerful introduction to taking DevOps all the way to BizOps.

In general – it was good to see that we’re all playing the same game. People were eagerly discussing problems of cooperation and burnout along with how to run containers and if configuration management tools are any good.

Konstantin Nazarov from Tarantool presented a simple, no frills Docker orchestration solution based on Consul and a self-written Python wrapper.

Our gifted compatriot and my friend Ilya Sher expressed the growing frustration with existing CM tools and suggested using his New Generation Shell for building simple and manageable custom solutions.

For those among us who still feel CM tools can provide certain value and not only pain ( I do believe there are such scenarios)  – Ansible was definitely the star of the show. It got featured in a number of talks and there was a workshop on writing custom Ansible modules.

 

Marcin Wielgus  – the lead Kubernetes developer from Poland who we had the pleasure to host at DevConTLV X now brought his message of smart container orchestration to Russia. Kubernetes is certainly a hot topic all around the globe. So much so that it became the subject of one of the open space sessions at the end of the day.

 

Open Spaces

I personally chose to visit another open space that was dedicated to developing the DevOps community in Russia. The session touched me deeply because folks were talking about the need to support each other, to fight snobbism and ban flame wars. Everybody agreed that generation of quality content is the key to community-building. Human societies are centered around shared stories. Konstantin Nazarov outlined the fact that technical people are rarely good in writing and speaking as this is something that needs to be learned. He then offered mentorship to whoever wants to share their knowledge but isn’t sure where and how to start.

 

This was very inspiring. We can certainly use this type of mentorship back in Israel. Being the Jenkins Area Meetup organiser for the last year I’ve come to realise that it’s not easy to find community speakers. Consultants and evangelists (like myself) can also hold great, valuable talks, but it’s much harder to learn about the actual experiences from the trenches of corporate wars.

So if you’re reading this and thinking that you’d like to tell your own story – feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be happy to share some speaking/writing tips.

Conclusion

Moscow is beautiful, Russian hackers are great guys and we can all learn from each other. Containers and their orchestrators are still all the buzz, there’s some talk of the serverless, and Ansible is responsible for picking up what’s left for configuration management. And the largest challenge is the same as everywhere – how to get humans to work together effectively at scale. It certainly seems Russians can teach us a few lessons here – they know about scale. I hope we have some Russian speakers on our next DevOpsDays TLV.


About Author

Anton Weiss

Founding Consultant at Otomato. More than 17 years of industry experience delivering software and building great IT organisations. Passionate about innovation, creativity and freedom of expression.

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