2 Posts authored by: KMSigma Administrator

DevOps as Plumbing

Posted by KMSigma Administrator Feb 25, 2019

Plumbing is about fundamentals


Let me tell you a story about plumbing.


As a young homeowner, I was house-rich and cash-poor, and because of that I needed to handle breakdowns myself as much as possible. I learned to do electrical work, cabling, drywall, basic carpentry, and plumbing. Of them all, I found the greatest satisfaction with plumbing work. Sweating copper pipes together was elegant, utilitarian, and beautiful. Not all joints were the same, so there were challenges to overcome each time, but a clean weld and a solid seal was a mark of satisfaction. There were a handful of tools that took care of most of my problems; a few pipe wrenches, a hacksaw, a pipe cutter, flux, a blowtorch, a bucket, and a mess of couplers were enough to tackle a majority of my issues. The bucket was multi-use. It could be used for when there was a leak, or as a receptacle for my tears when things went badly.


Then things changed. I’m not a tradesman, so I can’t say exactly why this change happened, but the next time I needed to do work, there was a new infrastructure that was taking over. The aisles that were outfitted with row upon row of shiny copper pipe were being replaced with bland white tubes and flexible colored bundles. My jobs didn’t change; I still needed to get water from one place to another without a bucket, but my materials were different.


Like all skills I’ve picked up, I needed to start learning new approaches. Since the objective didn’t change, but the approach and the materials have, there was a learning curve but with the same goal in mind.  A  new infrastructure and implementation philosophy had its own nuances. Flux was out, to be replaced with inline couplers or chemical cements. Cutting was relegated to special slicing tools. Supporting new plumbing codes, using new techniques that shortened the time it took to accomplish a task. Everything about it changed, except the goal—getting water from one place to another, getting it there quickly and at the right temperature (a temperature requirement that is always changing). Thankfully, the bucket stayed the same.


You may ask yourself, how is moving from copper to CPVC or PEX anything at all like working in IT? Well, although the infrastructure may have changed, your job has remained the same: to provide services to your end user regardless of where their services reside. You could be working with a team that is containerizing everything or a team that’s shifted everything to a cloud platform, but none of that matters. Making sure that the end users can do their job is your job.


Where and how the user does their work is immaterial. Realistically, it doesn’t matter where the work is done, be that on a bunch of physical servers, within a plethora of virtual servers, in a private cloud, hybrid cloud, public cloud, or within a SaaS solution. In that light we’ve added the Cloud Management forums to THWACK. It’s the work that’s valuable to your organization and why you have a job. The tool and the approach that was right last year may not be the same for the next year. This is why SolarWinds® AppOptics, Loggly®, Papertrail, and Pingdom® share the spotlight with products like Network Performance Monitor and Server & Application Manager. You can easily take what you know, combine it with your years of experience, and apply them to this new emerging IT environment, armed with tools that are purpose-built for the new plumbing.


New approaches, tools, and skills never, ever replace your existing skillset; they just supplement it. That’s what makes for great IT professionals.  There are times when I’ve had to go back and sweat copper while helping a friend or replacing an old water softener. Your legacy skills and tools are just as viable, but you need to know when and how to use them.


So, don’t be afraid to think about picking up some new tools and taking a different approach to solve problems that are ultimately the same as before—helping your users do their jobs—on some new infrastructure. The skills you picked up in your past are valuable, useful, and reduce the learning curve when challenged with something totally new.  Your skills, those which help you work through problems from a multitude of angles, are the ones needed with any new infrastructure.


But if there’s one thing I can recommend, it would be to not forget the bucket.

Let’s begin with a personal invitation to each and everyone one of you to join us in 2019 for one of our SolarWinds User Groups (SWUG). This year, we’re traveling to Atlanta, Seattle, New York, and Chicago. For 2019, like years past, it’s all about building bridges, tearing down walls, expanding communications, and fostering the best community in IT. The 2019 SWUGs will feature two days of sessions, including keynotes from SolarWinds executives, Head Geeks, and others, open spaces for attendee-led meetings, community-requested sessions, multiple topic-centric tracks, interactive sessions, and much, much more.


You may ask yourself why SolarWinds has made these changes. Well, it’s largely in result to our previous attendees’ feedback. You asked for more technical deep-dive sessions, more interactive sessions, more how-to sessions, and more interaction with the attendees in the room – and we heard you. If you’re taking time out of your busy schedule to be a part of an event, then it’s our job to make this event as informative and educational as possible.


If you’ve attended a SWUG in the past, you know that we have always packed the day with content, but it just wasn’t enough. Therefore, we’ve gone to two days. We also realize that not every session resonates with every person. With that in mind, we’re relying on you, the community, to tell us more about the sessions you want. You get to direct our track-based content. Our concentration is to make the sessions and content more diverse and community-driven.


Why Attend a SWUG?

The short answer is that it’s over 16 hours of educational content provided by SolarWinds professionals for free. That’s what you see on paper, but what you get by attending this in-person event is so much more. What we’re offering in a SWUG is opportunity: opportunity to speak with SolarWinds staff about the software, opportunity to interact with other IT professionals in your area of expertise, opportunity to influence the future direction of solutions in your environment, and opportunity to customize your experience and the content to your needs.


The thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about being part of the SWUG journey over the last few years is meeting the community. Although I’ve been with SolarWinds for a few years now, I haven’t forgotten my roots—as part of the community of users who utilized SolarWinds solutions to do my job better. My favorite interaction was always someone who brought up their manager or their co-worker and, together, we helped show them how we could help fix that one problem that’s been a pain point for some time. The power of SWUG is in a room full of other professionals to answer your questions. Although each environment is different, many of the problems we encounter have some level of commonality. At a SWUG, you are surrounded by hundreds of people whose role is like yours—in essence, a community.


The Evolution of SWUG

The super power of the THWACK® community is – and always has been – the diversity of its members. That diversity, coupled with everyone’s different IT specialties, makes for an engaging and, frequently, entertaining place to spend your time. In 2015, we began with an experiment: what would happen if we brought some THWACK members and some SolarWinds staff into a room and got them to interact with each other in real life? It seemed like a success. Like all scientists, we expanded on our hypothesis and tested it again.


This little experiment became the SolarWinds User Group, or SWUG. In 2016, we traveled to nine locations around these United States doing the same experiment. For a period of a half a day, we got everyone together and spoke with them about monitoring things better with SolarWinds. And what’s the purpose of having excellent monitoring? Finding the root cause quickly, helping you diagnose issues rapidly, which is key to giving you your weekends back.


Dallas, TX - 2016


Taking our cue from the scientific method, we took our results, analyzed what we found, and determined the next steps for our experimentation. In 2017, we moved from half-days to full days and extended the reach—both in scope and in locations. We traveled all over the world, meeting people who ranged in title from monitoring professionals, to network engineers, to systems administrators, to security professionals, and more. Building relationships among the community has been my favorite part of being with SolarWinds. Meeting more people and hearing your stories has been a highlight of my career.


In 2018, we scaled up once again and visited eleven cities around the world, hosting SWUGs to get to know the community better. One thing that we realized in our whirlwind tour over the last four years was that high technology people actually like talking to other high technology people. The THWACK community is more than just an online community, it is a community in the truest sense—made up of individuals, each with their own experiences, skills, and knowledge.


London, England - 2018London, England - 2018


In previous years, we’ve heard that we weren’t talking enough about this or we skipped that other thing entirely. Much of that was because we didn’t have the time. The next logical step was to get more of the community together and tailor the content to your requests.


It’s now 2019, and it’s time to take the results of the last four years, refine our hypothesis, and test it again. This year, we will be moving to two days of content with more people, more sessions, more interaction, and more—basically—everything.


SWUG 2019 by the numbers:

  • 0 conference badges required
  • 4 cities
  • 2 days
  • 3 tracks per day
  • 16+ hours of community-driven, educational content
  • 100+ IT professionals
  • and you

Register now to join me and other SolarWinds professionals in a city near you for a great 2019.

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