Okay so I guess a better title for this post is “PuppetConf 2013: Day 0 and the first half of day 1″ but we’re going for concise here. Yesterday we finished up the Advanced Puppet class. See my post PuppetConf 2013: Advanced Puppet Training for more info on that. My feelings didn’t change much, although we managed to get through all the topics (with varying degrees of coverage) but skipped the capstone project scheduled for the last day.

Last night I checked in for the conference and attended the kickoff party. Arriving at the party I started to get a better idea of where the conference fees were going. Open bars. EVERYWHERE. It was fantastic. Also, the conference food got significantly better, with the exception of breakfast which had a noticeable dearth of protein. Muffins, croissants, and danishes, oh carbs!

I had a fantastic time at the kickoff and met some really awesome people. I had a great chat with a guy from Visa. We talked about the difference between star performers and those who just float. We seemed to agree that it was about passion and drive. Star performers are motivated by an internal passion and drive for excellence. We work constantly on passion projects and geek out both at work and on our own time. Our spouses constantly yell at us for working too much, but they just don’t get it! We like this shit! It doesn’t just pay the mortgage, it keeps us going! It was really a great conversation.

The first two keynotes were really great. Of particular note was Gordon Rowell’s presentation “Why Did We Think Large Scale Distributed Systems Would be Easy?” Gordon is a Site Reliability Manager at Google. He talked a lot about the challenges of managing large scale distributed systems and how he and his team have addressed some of them. He was pushing Anycast as an HA/LB solution pretty heavily.

A lot of what Gordon said resonated with myself and my coworker. Specifically, his recommendation that operations do a post-mortem for every outage. We’re struggling with trying to hammer this behavior into our team at SNL. Also, with monitoring. Gordon stressed monitoring everything in every possible way. Again, something we’re having a very hard time convincing our SysAdmins the value of. We both came from environments with incredibly robust monitoring, where everything is monitored by default. Our department doesn’t monitor anything. When I say that, I really mean it. There is no monitoring system. Nothing. Except on our systems, of course. We’re a bit of a silo; I’ll have to write a post about the environment to give some context. It’s pretty bad though.

After the keynotes, my coworker and I split up and I attended Gene Kim’s presentation “How Do We Better Sell DevOps?” Gene is just a fantastic presenter. If you don’t know who he is, you need to learn. Gene is the coauthor of The Phoenix Project and a veritable DevOps god. Also, if you haven’t read The Phoenix Project you need to drop everything and get to a bookstore or pick up that iPad/Kindle/whatever and read it. Seriously, I’ll wait…

…all set? Okay, Gene’s presentation was fantastic and I’m not even going to try and parse it; wait for the video to be posted and watch it. He talks about how to sell DevOps to the right people in their language. Now, it’s time for Will Farrington’s presentation “Puppet at GitHub.” I’ll post more later!