DevOpsDays Austin Wrapped Up: Talks About DevOps [of course], Docker & the Cloud

By Flux7 Labs
May 9, 2014

DevOpsDays Austin 2014 came to an end earlier this week, on Tuesday. It was a great event; one of the best I have been to during the past year. The event was well organized by Ernest Mueller and other volunteers.

I think the highlight of the event for me was a comment by Liatrio’s Chris Blackburn who flew in from California. According to Chris, DevOpsDays Austin was comparable in size to last year’s DevOpsDays in the Silicon Valley (Go Austin!). And, he says, the event was actually better in terms of the quality of content and the conversations he had.

In fact, Chris was not alone here in his experience. There were several visitors from outside of Austin. I met Kiran Gollu from; Matt Chung from Fox; Ken Mugrage from ThoughtWorks; and several others.

I had a unique experience at DevOpsDays Austin. For me, it was my first time at an event with Open Spaces. For those unfamiliar, the concept of Open Spaces is that approximately 50% of the conference time is spent allowing people to gather in small focus groups and discuss particular topics that interest them. I found this to be a very valuable way to share knowledge.

I participated in the two-day event in a few other ways.

First, I held my talk entitled “Using Docker to Improve Web Developer Productivity.

Then, I also co-hosted the #Docker Open Space with Chris Blackburn. The talk was very well-received. The room was overflowing with attendees, and the Q&A was very intriguing and lasted several hours (counting the time in the hallway!).

The same spirit buzzing around #Docker continued on Day 2 through Open Spaces. At the Open Spaces, we discussed the basics of #Docker, the advantages it has over traditional VMs, the use cases for #Docker, and best practices. Some interesting points came out.

Here are a couple of the very important points that were brought up about #Docker during these conversations:

  1. Monitoring the resource usage of #Docker containers.
  2. The assertion that most containers in development or production will be running multiple services, e.g., a logstash-agent. Therefore, the model of one process per container may not be viable in several scenarios.

We were even able to talk through how once an infrastructure matures, one process per container becomes more doable than in the early stages of a greenfield project. But, I don’t want to spill all the beans on this; more on this topic in a future blog post.

I must have spoken with possibly 70 people at the conference about #Docker and other #DevOps related topics. If I were to summarize my two days there, I found the following four things I learned to be the most interesting:

  1. Interest in #Docker is immense. Our Open Space was possibly one of the largest at the conference.
  2. The number of mid-size and large enterprises moving toward the #DevOps culture is bigger than you may think. The public cloud has even penetrated into Fortune 100 companies that many have believed to be the laggards.
  3. Auto-scaling and elasticity, although believed to be a key feature of the cloud, is used rarely. I was (and also have been in the past) surprised at how few people actually use auto-scaling. Servers continue to be pets for a large majority, and in fact, I heard very few plans to change it.
  4. I saw a very strong correlation between people happy with server-based configuration management (Chef/Puppet) and how static their infrastructure was. For more dynamic infrastructures, the majority seems to be deploying solutions where AMIs (or the equivalent) need to baked and used. However, for static infrastructures, which are more prevalent, configuration management seems to be the answer. The one key take away is that config management does not play well with auto-scaling and elasticity. CM, after all, is a way to take good care of your pets, not cattle.

To sum it all up, the event was a great learning experience. I just wish it had not ended so quickly. The Flux7 team and I are looking forward to participating in the next DevOpsDays Austin.
If you want to continue the conversation about DevOpsDays Austin, #Docker or even #DevOps, send me an email at Or, for just more information on these topics and others, visit