DevOps Days London

Published 2013-04-09 by Jochen Lillich

DevOps Days London took place a few weeks ago on 15 and 16 of March 2013. I’ve finished my review a bit late, but I had so much fun at the conference — or rather, unconference — that I’d like to post it anyway.

bridge-the-gap “Bridge the Gap” — Adopting this modification of the well-known London underground warning as the event’s motto was a stroke of genius. After all, that’s what DevOps is all about: crossing the chasm between software development and IT operations. And there were many practical examples of these efforts at DevOps Days London.


I attended all the talks on both days. They were all interesting and some even entertaining as well:

With “DevOps in the Hell of a Thousand Different Platforms”, Sam Eaton gave a both highly entertaining and insightful talk that made “fail cake” a trending topic for the #devopsdays hashtag.

In the last keynote titled “Lessons Learned From Manufacturing For Maximizing Flow From Dev To Ops”, Gene Kim laid out some insight from his new book “The Phoenix Project”. It’s uncanny how much the situations described in his “IT novel” match my experience in corporate IT. Over lunch, I took the opportunity to tell Gene that reading “The Phoenix Project” is fun but at the same time nearly causes me PTSD…

Ignite sessions

After the keynotes, there was opportunity for participants to give IGNITE talks. I’ve especially enjoyed Patrick Dubios’ talk “What if config management was created by game designers?”.

Open Space sessions

DevOps Days, like Barcamps, are organised as an “unconference”. They don’t consist only of a fixed session schedule with speakers designated in advance by the orga team, which would reduce the participants to a mostly passive audience. Instead, DevOps Days leave most of the time open for topics brought in by the participants themselves. Both afternoons were reserved for “OpenSpace”, a very flexible format where everyone can suggest session topics and these may even still change during the sessions.

I was excited to join a session about hiring for DevOps teams and found out that we’re on the right track with our own growth efforts. I also had suggested a session about “Open Source storage solutions” myself. It was a great success, both in number of participants and in the insight I gained from the conversation. As an outcome of this session, we’re going to research object storage systems like MogileFS.

On Sunday, I had to already leave shortly after lunch because I chose an early flight home to my family. I’m sure the OpenSpace sessions were equally inspiring as the Saturday ones.

Location and catering

The event was hosted at the “Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre”. The house is a bit rambling and we had to climb stairs and turn many corners every time we needed to change rooms or go to the loo. On the other hand, this prevented us from further endangering our health by sitting all the time.

As earthly beings, we still need more than only food for thought. For beverages, we could choose between water, coffee and, we’re in London after all, tea. At lunch time, we were offered tasty options for both carnivores and vegetarians, and there were baskets of cookies for tea time. I think the level of catering was just about right for such a low-price event. I don’t like sitting through talks hungry but I also hate falling into a post-lunch digestion coma, and they hit the sweet spot in between.

Social event

After a packed conference day, I’m usually quite exhausted; a tribute I have to pay to my introvert nature. That and my burning interest in learning more about object storage systems led to my decision to forego the social event on Friday evening and instead have a pizza alone before spending the evening in front of my laptop. What I heard, though, is that many people enjoyed having drinks at “The Last”.


Although I missed the Sunday OpenSpace sessions, I found DevOps Days London highly inspiring and the results well worth the trip. The “unconference” character of the event which lets everyone address their own issues, and the very active “hallway track” are what from my perspective make DevOps Days essential community events.

If you’d like to go to one of the next european DevOps Days events, you should consider joining our team! We regularly send team members to community events, all expenses paid. Interested? Get in touch!

I look forward to the upcoming DevOps Days in Berlin! See you there?