Some of the blog readers may know that I (Aaron) have been doing a bit of traveling lately. Some of the conferences I have been attending fall under the DevOpsDays heading. Recently, I was at DevOpsDays Toronto and earlier this year at DevOpsDays Seattle. I've gone to so many (and applied to speak at more) mostly because I love these events. What's awesome, what really makes them stand out, is that they're not just another lineup of Big Names pitching their brand of How To Do DevOps Correctly, but that the organizers push for local and locally relevant content that speaks to their communities directly.
Why are DevOpsDays so special?
For those unfamiliar, while DevOpsDays has a global organizing body (and started in Belgium in 2009) each city's own conference is organized at the grassroots. All organizers must be local and from at least three different companies before the global organizers give their blessing to go ahead with setting up a conference. The attendee attraction tends to be extremely local with nearly half of the attendees in Toronto being from the Greater Toronto Area (even despite this being the only DevOpsDays conference in Ontario).
The format of these conferences is also a bit unique. Instead of spending all day listening to speakers and then going to some over-the-top party for "networking" mixed with plenty of breaks for sponsors trying to sell the latest bleeding edge tech, half the day is community-driven Open Spaces. And more often than not, the sponsors are there looking to recruit the top talent in the local areas. Vendors are encouraged to not just sit on the sidelines, but to participate in the event and engage with the community, drawing even more local flavor into the events. In an ideal world the Sponsors would be from all local companies as well.
What's an Open Space?
Open Spaces are not just a big room where the attendees can gather. Open Spaces (often referred to as the "unconference") are attendee driven sessions where anything can happen and whatever does happen is the only thing that could have happened. Attendees get to suggest topics of what they'd like to discuss. Maybe they have something they want to share, maybe they have something they want to learn about, but they can suggest anything. Andrew Clay Shafer (@littleidea) is fond of suggesting a game of Werewolf as a session when he attends.
Trivia fact: DevOpsDays got started because of an Open Space topic suggested by Shafer at an Agile Conference in 2008.
They follow the "Principle of two feet". If you're in an Open Space and you feel like you are neither contributing to the discussion nor getting anything out of it, you're welcome to use your two feet to move to another one. So it's a great space to discuss anything in a local forum with others who are solving the same problems you are in your local community. That is awesome.
Bringing People Together
One of my favorite things is to bring people together and watching it happen in multiple local communities all over the world fills me with joy. I love that in a world with incredible derision and darkness, in a world where murders, hate crimes and genocide occur, we can all get together and talk about how we solve complex technological problems and how we can be our best selves. We're founding these communities on principles of "Aggressive Inclusiveness" where not only are diverse voices welcome, but encouraged. It's a group of people standing up and saying, "We are better together than we are apart." and then doing something about that and actively coming together.
Maybe I've soapboxed a bit there, but this is what makes these events so special to me and special to Cage Data. We want you to love technology again. We want you to build your technical operations into the best that it can be and help your company become its best self. We can't do that without building strong communities of individual humans to hold up the operation and drive innovation. All of this leads to Cage sending me out to DevOpsDays events and giving me time to build DevOps CT and Organize DevOpsDays Hartford 2017. Won't you join our community?