Server login considered harmful – the next iteration

Patrick Debois and Jeffrey Fredrick asked if I could blog about improvements I was making to our presentation “Server Login Considered Harmful” for tomorrows GOTO Amsterdam conference. So here is a quick CHANGELOG.TXT for this presentation :) . What is on the menu for tomorrow is all the way on the bottom of this post.

Feedback on where to take it is welcome, you have until tomorrow morning 10:20 ;) . I was (also) preparing today for tomorrow, because this is an ongoing experience report and I want to incorporate what I’m doing right now in to it. This makes providing a session description in advance a bit hard – the overall theme stays the same, the emphasis shifts depending on the audience and what I’m up to.

This is the fifth iteration of this talk, in which Stephan Eggermont and I try to explain what DevOps in general, and configuration management (for instance with Puppet or Chef) can mean for Developers in particular.

The first iteration at last years’ FOSDEM found us in a room full of seasoned systems administrators. We had a few slides and a Puppet demo. We found doing a demo with a tool like this in such a short timespan a bit too challenging, and not too clear for the audience.

We did do a demo at SPA2011, where we did a half-day hands-on tutorial. Went well. We did find that the same virtualbox VM runs differently on different windows pc’s…. Prepping VMs for a workshop like this is meta-devops ;)

The next two installments were for XP Days benelux last year, and mini xp days this year. We expanded the slide deck to explain more of what we find are principles and values for DevOps, and put a Chef demo purely in slides, so we could focus the explanation. We also decided to go with a Lego theme (we liked Patricks’ BBQ themed slides from last year).

The XP Days and SPA audiences consisted mostly of people who rarely do systems administration.
Feedback from the first xp days was that we could have explained what devops and configuration management meant in general more clearly. Rob Westgeest said we took too much time to explain our case studies, and we should pick one or two. People did like the Lego theme, and were inspired to try out chef or puppet at home, much like at SPA.

For mini XP Days we expanded the slide deck, including a case study for me, and one for Stephan, to focus the case study presentation. We also added some more explanation around the Chef example plus syntax highlighting to show where we increased abstraction from one step to the next. Critical feedback was there were too many lego slides, and on some slides the contrast with the text was not good on the projector. We still have some work to do to clarify the overall theme. Surprising positive feedback was that participants had gained a better understanding of what systems administrators do, and there were quite a few questions on how to get started in a specific situation. Rob said trying chef or puppet was mentioned several time as a takeaway in the conference feedback.

So for this iteration we tested the presentation on a projector to fix contrast, removed some lego (not too much, we still like the theme) and changed the order of the presentation. The chef example now comes first, and if there is time I’ll discuss one case study and values and principles – there is a bit less time and I found discussion and questions the most interesting aspects of this talk, because the audiences and experiences are so diverse. This is also where I get to learn stuff to take home and try out. So I’ll probably let the audience vote on Chef first or case study plus values first to make sure we have time for discussion.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

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