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DevOpsDays DC Denoument

Level 18

DODDC_logo.pngThe SolarWinds booth at DevOpsDays DC represents SolarWinds' third appearance at the event (after Columbus and Austin (https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/solarwinds-community/geek-speak_tht/blog/2016/05/23/devopsda...) ). I could play up the cliche and say that the third time was the charm, but the reality that we who have attended - myself, Connie (https://thwack.solarwinds.com/people/ding), Patrick (https://thwack.solarwinds.com/people/patrick.hubbard), and Andy Wong - were charmed from the moment we set foot in the respective venues.

While Kong (https://thwack.solarwinds.com/people/kong.yang) and Tom (https://thwack.solarwinds.com/people/sqlrockstar) - my Head-Geeks-In-Arms - are used to more intimate gatherings, like VMUGs and SQL Saturdays, I'm used to the big shows: CiscoLive, InterOp, Ignite, VMWorld, and the like. DevOps Days is a completely different animal, and here's what I learned:

Focus

The people coming to DevOpsDays are focused. As much as I love to wax philosophical about all things IT, and especially about all things monitoring, the people who I spoke with wanted to stay on topic. That meant cloud, continuous delivery, containers, and the like. While it might have been a challenge for an attention-deficit Chatty Kathy like me, it was also refreshing.

There was also focus of purpose. DevOpsDays is a place where attendees come to learn, not to be marketed to (or worse, AT). So there are no scanners, no QR codes on the badge, nothing. People who come to DevOpsDays can't be guilted or enticed into giving vendors their info unless they REALLY mean it, and then it's only the info THEY want to give. Again, challenging, but also refreshing.

Conversations

That focus reaps rewards in the form of real conversations. We had very few drive-by visitors. People who approached the table were genuinely interested in hearing what SolarWinds was all about. They might not personally be using our software (although many were), but they were part of teams and organizations that had use for monitoring. More than once, someone backed away from the booth, saying, "Hang on. I gotta see if my coworkers know about this."

The conversations were very much a dialogue, as opposed to a monologue. Gone was the typical trade show 10-second elevator pitch. We got to ask questions and hear real details about people's environments, situations, and challenges. That gave us the opportunity to make suggestions, recommendations, or just commiserate.

Which meant I had a chance to really think about...

The SolarWinds (DevOps) Story

"So how exactly does SolarWinds fit into DevOps?" This was a common question, not to mention a perfectly valid one given the context. My first reaction was to talk about the Orion SDK  and how SolarWinds can be leveraged to do all the things developers don't really want to recreate when it comes to monitoring-type activities. Things like:

  • A job scheduler to perform actions based on date or periodicity.
  • Built-in account db that hands username/password combinations without exposing them to the user.
  • The ability to push code to remote systems, execute it, and pull back the result or return code.
  • Respond with an automatic action when that result or return code is not what was expected.

But as we spoke to people and understood their needs, some other stories emerged:

  • Using the Orion SDK to automatically add a system which was provisioned by chef, jenkins, or similar tools into monitoring.
  • Perform a hardware scan of that system to collect relevant asset and hardware inventory information.
  • Feed that information into a CMDB for ongoing tracking.
  • Scan that system for known software.
  • Automatically apply monitoring templates based on the software scan.

This is part of a continuous delivery model that I hadn't considered until digging into the DevOpsDays scene, and I'm really glad I did.

Attending the conferences and hearing the talks, I also believe strongly that traditional monitoring - fault, capacity, and performance - along with alerting and automation, are still parts of the culture that DevOps advocates and practitioners don't hear about often enough. And I'm submitting CFP after CFP until I have a chance to tell that story.

Is SolarWinds a hardcore DevOps tool? Of course not. If anything, it's a hardcore supporter in the "ops" side of the DevOps arena. Even so, SolarWinds tools have a valid, rightful place in the equation, and we're committed to being there for our customers. "There" in terms of our features, and "there" in terms of our presence at these conferences.

So come find us. Tell us your stories. We can't wait to see you there!

14 Comments

I'm sad because I already have SW products and I can no longer look forward to the wonderful discoveries and satisfaction I'll have when I start using SW for the first time!

Also would love to be able to attend these events, and I'm so glad Leon's reporting (and soliciting) ideas and experiences!

"Chef?"  "Jenkins?"  Say more about these, please?

MVP
MVP

Very good adatole​ !

  • Using the Orion SDK to automatically add a system which was provisioned by chef, jenkins, or similar tools into monitoring.
  • Perform a hardware scan of that system to collect relevant asset and hardware inventory information.
  • Feed that information into a CMDB for ongoing tracking.
  • Scan that system for known software.
  • Automatically apply monitoring templates based on the software scan.

This is good, but I feel there are a few caveats:

There needs to be a way to correlate the resulting CI's from the CMDB to the objects in Orion for future reference for ticketing (ServiceNow for example).

Regarding the known software, I know in our shop that can be challenging.  There can be several instances of a product such as Java.exe that run.  That by itself

does not imply templates F-S get automatically applied.  This is because it is a multi-tenant environment where several applications run the same executable  but with different net names and log to different directory paths.  This is more the norm here and it is a case by case basis because the responsible groups vary. 

Something to tie into this is the validation of DNS for forward and reverse lookup to the new object and to ensure there is not something already in Orion with that same ip that may not have been decommissioned or had it's ip changed.

I see these as becoming more the norm as provisioning becomes more automated.

Leon, I am kicking myself that I was not able to attend. I talked to others who went and they said it was a good event. I tried to convince them to walk up and say hi for me but none would abide. Hopefully I'll squeeze in the next time.

I'd feel irrationally proud to be someone's "Head-Geek-In-Arms."  I think that should be an official H.R. job title.

Put an i-Paq running Air Magnet on one side of this guy's belt, and on the other side have a smart phone in a holster, and he might be the embodiment of the title:

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Or we could just turn to Sheldon, and put a phaser or a disruptor in his left hand . . .  ;^)

pastedImage_0.png

Awesome alliteration, adatole​!

PS - good post, too.

Level 20

You're right Jfrazier​ if DNS doesn't work both directions... it's a recipe for some really bad bad sometimes very difficult things happening that are not always easy to recognize right away either... sometimes it seems almost too simple but is VERY easy to overlook from my experience!

adatole​ get's to live out of his thwackpack a lot it sounds like... at least he's got all the great suggestions for what to carry now!

Level 18

I agree, but I'm not sure that ties into DevOps as much as it does CMDB in general (which is still worthwhile, mind you. Just not part of this thread).

Level 18

I'll make sure to get the ticket contest out early enough that registrations can be timely as well!

As with all things IT, lessons were learned.

Level 18

Literally, "Leon Likes (a)literation." Lots.

Level 17

Awesome, thanks for the After Affect Assessment!

Level 12

I tried reading that "Leon Likes (a)literation. Lots." in my head, and now my tong is tied in a knot.

Level 12

Perhaps professional pontification proceeds post-mortem!

Level 8

Any word on whether Solarwinds will be at the DC Devops Days 2017?  It's July 17-18.

About the Author
In my sordid career, I have been an actor, bug exterminator and wild-animal remover (nothing crazy like pumas or wildebeasts. Just skunks and raccoons.), electrician, carpenter, stage-combat instructor, American Sign Language interpreter, and Sunday school teacher. Oh, and I work with computers. Since 1989 (when you got a free copy of Windows 286 on twelve 5¼” floppies when you bought a copy of Excel 1.0) I have worked as a classroom instructor, courseware designer, desktop support tech, server support engineer, and software distribution expert. Then about 14 years ago I got involved with systems monitoring. I've worked with a wide range of tools: Tivoli, Nagios, Patrol, ZenOss, OpenView, SiteScope, and of course SolarWinds. I've designed solutions for companies that were extremely modest (~10 systems) to those that were mind-bogglingly large (250,000 systems in 5,000 locations). During that time, I've had to chance to learn about monitoring all types of systems – routers, switches, load-balancers, and SAN fabric as well as windows, linux, and unix servers running on physical and virtual platforms.