What We Saw and Heard at Velocity — Librato Blog

What We Saw and Heard at Velocity


Velocity was, as always, a whirlwind: catching up with friends, the excitement of running a booth together with Pingdom and Papertrail for the first time, and facing the daunting task of deciding which sessions to attend.

There was so much going on that we decided to divide and conquer the schedule in order to cover the most ground - with the result of everyone, as usual, attending what they wanted to attend, and having regrets of not attending more. It could be argued, however, that this methodology brought on the result of an organically awesome curation, and that is what we share with you today.

Data and Monitoring

"Building a System for Machine and Event-Oriented Data” by Rocana’s Eric Sammer was fast-paced and opinionated (two things we like very much in a highly technical talk).  The system described is becoming more typical in large-to-medium sized IT shops that are looking for a means to apply ad hoc data modeling techniques to their metrics and monitoring efforts. The general strategy is to reduce all inbound monitoring and metric data to an event stream (in this case, an event stream composed of strongly-typed predefined events), then create a fan-out style infrastructure to process it, then act on the result. We especially appreciated Eric's perspective on the trade offs between the various stream processing frameworks: samza, storm, solr, and spark, but found ourselves wishing he'd included an architecture diagram or two in his slides.



Kelsey Hightower (CoreOS) did a fantastic job describing some of the recent deployment patterns being explored by the kubernetes team. The future of container orchestration looks bright, and we think it's pretty obvious that our world will continue to track the progress of mesos, kubernetes, and docker for some time to come. After his talk, our Dave Josephsen followed Kelsey to lunch and took the opportunity to interrogate him for the better part of 30 minutes about building smaller docker containers. Conference video is great, but nothing beats ambushing a speaker and demanding they help you do your homework.

Burnout, and Diversity in Dimensions

The focus on cultural aspects of work permeated many a technical talk, in addition to those in the very popular Org Dynamics track. Buddy Brewer talked relationships between people and data: “Performance analytics” means something entirely different for dev and ops engineers, marketing and finance people. Finding relationships between such siloed metrics can mean creating relationships between people - and vice versa.

At “Burnout in Tech”, Christina Maslach from UC Berkeley, a pioneering researcher on the topic, taught us that burnout doesn’t cause just exhaustion, but also cynicism which spirals into professional inefficacy, self doubt, and, down the road (but not such a long road) depression. A panel of Ops professionals moderated by John Allspaw told of their experiences, including some positive ones: Etsy’s folks apparently threatened to cut Katherine Daniel’s VPN access when she tried to work from home sick.


On a different topic, did you know that until the 1970s, orchestras were 95% male, but once screens were put in place to eliminate bias, the percentage of women in went up 25% - 46%? Laine Campbell showed a very practical path to diversity in tech recruiting - and in case anyone is still wondering why - reminded us that employees at companies with 2D diversity (inherent and acquired) are 75% more likely to have a marketable idea implemented.

As for women in tech...Bridget Kromhout already said it all.  

Velocity on Velocity

Jason Yee, O’Reilly’s Community Manager for Web Ops and Performance, told us a bit about how things went from the organizers’ perspective.

“As much as you like to think that tech is progressing fast, we see talks and trends continued year over year,” Jason told us. “A few years ago virtualization was all the hype, now it’s all about containerization”. Velocity grows with its audience, however: while one year the conference introduces people to a technology, the following year or two we see more in-depth talks on practical implementation. Case in point: this is the first Velocity with talks on much anticipated http/2.

Another interesting trend from Jason’s standpoint: attendance of highly technical people at business sessions - a nice bonus of including a business track for the first time at this year’s conference.

In Conclusion

We had a great time and look forward to Velocity New York. And just in case you missed the “Hiring” sign in our booth, we are looking for more smart people to join us next time around.