March 29, 2013
Over the past five years, I've learned that IT conferences come in all shapes and sizes.
On one extreme is VMworld, epic in scale, which takes up a sizable portion of the convention space in whatever city they decide to locate it in.
At the other end of the spectrum are small conferences like Monitorama. Accurately described as a "single track", it's two days of high signal, low noise immersion among the DevOps practitioners and elite, with the entire second day devoted to workshops and a "hackathon", where basically you sit around hacking on whatever cool technologies you want, with whoever you want. It's awesome.
Allspaw's keynote discussed monitoring considerations, including the reminder that we really need to learn from other disciplines. One of his key messages was that other professional domains have a common language or lexicon, and if we're going to interoperate with them and truly learn, we need to adoptt their shared language. We also need to establish a relatively standardized language among ourselves.
I really enjoy hearing John speak, and this message is right on target with what he's been saying, but one thing he mentioned that I hadn't considered before was that we actually have some advantages over other industries.
We might have relatively unsophisticated analytics and practices, but not only can we learn from other industries, we are going through our growing pains in the information age - we literally have the world's accumulated knowledge at our fingertips.
Dr Gunther's keynote was also very interesting, and he attacked monitoring from the perspective that all data is, by definition, incorrect. The very fact that we're rendering reality in the form of discrete numerical representations means that we're dealing with approximations. The real questions are:
- What is the degree of error?
- Is that degree of error acceptable?
Overall, there were 12 sessions and one panel, but in terms of content, it was absolutely packed. I seriously had a great time. It seemed like there was a lot of sitting, since only having one track means staying in one room, but there were several breaks and lunch to break it up and provide the all-important hallway track.
I don't know if Jason Dixon is planning on having it in Boston again next year, but I don't think it matters where it's held. I'm there, because the was the most valuable $100 I've spent in a long time. Even if the talks weren't packed with technical howtos, it was awesome to be exposed to so many new ideas and surrounded by so many people who had their stuff together. I would highly recommend this conference to anyone interested in web or devops or monitoring in general.