2015 DevOpsDays Silicon Valley Welcome

On November 6, 2015, I opened DevOpsDays Silicon Valley 2015. My goal in sharing this is to provide help in organizing conferences for future and current organizers. I also hope that it encourages others to share their processes.

Opening a conference requires a careful balance of a few things including the purpose of the conference, thank yous to the sponsors who make the event possible, setting the values and expectations of the event to align behaviors, and conveying important information like wireless connectivity and agenda.

Thanks to the captioning provided by White Coat Captioning, I have (an edited) version of the speech I gave.


What is DevOps? Well, it started out a few years ago in 2009 where John and Paul Hammond gave a talk at Velocity Conf talking about developers and operations. Meanwhile Andrew Clay Shafer and Patrick Debois were trying to come up with a way for people to do agile system administration. As Andrew sat in the audience he realized of course DevOps. Developers and operations staff working together. Now, DevOps has become so much more. We know every part of the business matters not just in our organization but across organizations in the industry. We are changing how we work, why we work, what we’re working on together.

DevOps is about the we, not the me. I can solve a problem very fast, and it’s good enough for me. But my organization has a single point of failure or a single point of knowledge. Later on, we will have talks from people talking about the challenges of being that single point of failure.

What are DevOpsDays? Well, they’re held all around the world, every year there’s been more. This is the Silicon Valley one. This is your and my DevOpsDays. We all come together as participants in this movement to create a space where everyone can share what they’re working on, how they’re working on it, and the problems they face. It has been shown through many studies that the diversity of voices and experience help us to make stronger products, make stronger, stable solutions.

That’s why we want to talk about bridging DevOps cultures because each one of us works at a company that has a slightly different culture, the values that we talk about, what we care about, we are bridging here at DevOpsDays, connecting our islands together so that we can have strong, stable foundations to build the products that are going to get us on those spaceships out to Mars; right? I don’t want to be in a spaceship where people are arguing who’s the person responsible for the oxygen supply? Everyone’s dead if we don’t actually figure that out.

So the amazing thing about the Bay Area is we talk about the Bay Area, and we talk about Silicon Valley, but we’re all separate little cultures. We’ve got great, rich culture in Oakland. We’ve got little coffee shops, all kinds of music, great innovation labs. We’ve got culture in San Francisco. We’ve got culture here in South Bay. One of the challenges of creating a DevOpsDay for this area is the commute is pretty bad; right? There’s a lot of people here.

We have people talking, we’re going to try to figure out a way so we can have more voices coming in.

Why are we here? Well, I think of this is balance. We want to create that strong, stable structure at the bottom, have that flexibility in the middle, and have the agility at the top. From the individual down to the organizational and industry levels, this is what we need to do in order to be successful.

It’s a journey, it’s not just a destination. We want to make sure that people are able to get where they need to get to and not just think “Oh, there’s where we’re at. We got there, we’re done” DevOps is a constant journey.

There’s going to be a lot of friendly faces, you’ll see people saying hello, if this is your first time, raise your hand. Welcome to DevOpsDays. The rule of three is you see people, you have permission to talk to them. I tell you go up, say hello, tell us your name.

Now, if you’re an introvert, it’s cool. Just walk up and stand there. It’s cool. We’re cool with that. Except in the chillax zone, it’s a special place for us to recharge, no talking on your cell phone, no talking to each other. If you see someone in the chillax zone, leave them alone, you can smile but that’s the recharge zone.

The goals for the next two days is to listen to the stories we all have to tell. Share those stories you have from your experiences because you have different points of view and learn from each other.

Respect the different perspectives. We’re all coming from different places. Some of us might see this as an old woman, some might see it as a young lady; right? We all have value to bring. It doesn’t matter if you’re a developer, a operations, data scientist, a product manager, a marketer, salesperson, we all have value to bring to improve our businesses.

Towards that, we also want to make this as much of as inclusive space as we can. We have an anti-harassment policy. We are dedicated to providing harassment-free space to come together. Everyone by attending this is agreeing to our code of conduct, which you can find here.

Can all my speakers stand up or wave? We’ve got some awesome speakers. They come from all walks. We’ve got a very diverse line up. This is not just a developers and operations staff conference.

We’ll have games crafting here in the grand hall as well as in the rooms. So what is this gaming at a conference about? Isn’t that for the nerds? No. Well, yes, but it’s okay.

It’s also for all of us. It is a great way to build teams. To create the collaboration and corporation we want to see. It teaches the separation of our personal identity from the role we play.

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