Eat, Pray, DevOps


When I wrote about what I hoped to learn and see at DevOpsDays Tel Aviv, I listed three important goals:

  1. Meet some of our amazing customers
  2. Eat my body weight in schwarma
  3. Speak at the conference.

Let's be totally clear: My main goal was #2. Everything else was icing on the (kosher) cake. So sit back, grab a napkin, and maybe don't read this on an empty stomach. This wrap-up is going to have A LOT of food in it.

Because my travel schedule has to work around the no-fly (or work, or drive, or... well, lots of things)-zone of Shabbat, my wife and I traveled on Thursday, arriving Friday at noon. The first thing we did was drop our bags at the hotel and make a beeline for Machanei Yehudah, a multi-block open air market that has everything you can imagine, including fruit, fruit gummies, spices, chocolate souffle, and so much more.


After that, our bags (and stomachs) full, we settled in for 25 hours of Sabbath in a way that is only possible in Jerusalem.

Saturday night, refreshed but eager to get on with our adventure, we traveled nearly the entire width of Israel, from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. A trip that took all of about 30 minutes. Sunday is a regular workday over there, so I was able to meet up with some SolarWinds customers who had a few short questions for me.

Six hours later, I was back at the hotel practicing my talk. Soon after, we were invited to meet with the other DevOpsDays speakers and sponsors at Pasha, a Turkish restaurant that had food like THIS:


But it was the dessert that really did it for me: a baklavah-like dish served with a giant heap of ice cream covered in halavah!


The next morning, while my wife explored the shuk haCarmel, I was in full-on DevOps mode.

The first thing that struck me, compared to other DevOpsDays I've attended, was the sheer diversity of attendees. Part of this was the location. Tel Aviv is going to pull from a far more international crowd than, say, Columbus, Ohio. But even so, the number of women, people of color, and level of diversity (as well as nonchalant acceptance), was a joy to behold and be part of.

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The talks themselves were as diverse as the participants, from a deep dive, three-hour Statistical Analysis For Engineers session, to an expletive-filled five-minute Ignite talk done entirely in limerick form. To do them justice, even in summary, would take about two days, the same length of time over which the talks were spread. Instead, here are a few highlights that caught my fancy:

  • Chef founders Nathen Harvey and Adam Jacob cut to the heart of a lot of people's fear of content, especially content that is repeated in some way. They said, "We don't have a problem with repeated content when it's good (Star Wars). We have a problem when it's bad (Man of Steel)."
  • They also gave a fantastic analogy about the differences (and benefits/deficits) of simplicity and complexity. A model-T car is very simple, Adam explained. So simple that a typical group of people trapped in a locked room could assemble a working model T from their component parts before they died of starvation. But starting it without knowing precisely how would result in a broken arm. It was just that peculiar, and had that poor of a user interface. On the other hand, today's cars have a "start" button. It's not even labeled "ignition" anymore. But even a group of highly skilled engineers would be hard-pressed to assemble it from parts.
  • Continuing on that thread, speaker Avishai Ish-Shalom noted that things are complex even when we think they're simple. By way of example, he wrote a five-line "hello world" script in python, which took seven minutes of stage time and several mishaps (including missing modules). And that doesn't even take into account the complexity of the underlying operating system, hardware, etc. Complexity, he pointed out, is all around us.
  • Crystal Huff gave a talk on Interviewing Candidates (Badly), which contained the single greatest slide of all time:
    "Would you eat a kitten to get this job?"
  • She also shared a slide of this three-year old whose parents gave her the ultimate Wonder Woman photoshoot of all time (the video:
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  • Charity Majors gave us, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer to Technical Decision-Making (title based on her book), in which she regaled us with a harrowing tale of Tel Aviv taxi conveyance, along with the wisdom that:
    • The best code is no code
    • The second best code is code someone else wrote and maintains
    • The worst code is everything else.
  • As well as this helpful decision-making gate:
    "If a technical change has no (or little) value added (Redhat vs Ubuntu, for example), the answer is f#&^ you."
  • And finally:
    "Celebrate engineers who remove code, deprecate, and refactor AS MUCH AS those who add features."
  • Corey Quinn bravely shared his failures and how they've shaped his decisions in his talk, The Stories We Tell and the Failures We've Lived.

Along with those (and many more) incredible talks, there were the usual slew of OpenSpace discussions that were informative, passionate, and nearly impossible to choose from.

On Wednesday, while the rest of the speakers were enjoying a tour of Jerusalem, I was back at work with ProLogic, one of our key partners in the region. Meeting with integrators, partners, and consultants gave me a chance to talk about new solutions, answer questions, and eat donuts. After all that, we went to a local Yemenite restaurant for some truly incredible soup, pita, and dips.

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Believe it or not, Wednesday marked the end of my work responsibilities for the week, leaving my wife and I free to make the return trip to Jerusalem for sightseeing, shopping, and, of course, more FOOD!

I am deeply grateful to both DevOpsDays Tel Aviv for inviting me to speak, and for SolarWinds for giving me the chance to experience such incredible events.

And now, more pictures of food.

Which I ate.

With impunity.

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Thwack - Symbolize TM, R, and C