Signals from the 2015 O’Reilly Velocity Conference in Santa Clara

Key insights from DevOps, Web operations, and performance.

People from across the Web operations and performance worlds are coming together this week for the 2015 O’Reilly Velocity Conference in Santa Clara. Below, we’ve assembled notable keynotes, interviews, and insights from the event.

Think like a villain

Laura Bell outlines a three-step approach to securing organizations — by putting yourself in the bad guy’s shoes (without committing actual crime, she stresses):

  1. Think like a villain and be objective: identify why and how someone would attack your company; what is the core value they’d come to steal?
  2. Create a safe place to create a little chaos: don’t do it live, but find a safe place without restriction and without fear to break things, to practice creative chaos.
  3. Play like you’ve never read the the rule book: Not everyone plays by the same rules as you, so to protect yourself and your company, you have to think more like the person willing to break the rules.

Cultivating insight

“Ideas pop up when you are not actively trying to solve the problem,” notes Indi Young, “and a broader range of of ideas pop up when you solicit input from other people.” Why is this? Empathy, she says, is the mechanism

She describes four main types of empathy — mirrored empathy, personal distress, affective empathy, and cognitive empathy. Cognitive empathy, she says, is the mechanism by which a broader range of ideas are cultivated and manifested. “Cognitive empathy is the one that’s viable in your work because you can make it repeat. It’s the mechanism by which you can increase the number of ideas.”

Managing distributed systems

Astrid Atkinson talks about what it means to manage distributed systems over long periods of time. She says she starts by thinking about the team, not the system. “Good teams and people are precious…building a good team is really difficult, a huge investment,” she notes. “Your job as an engineer is to make sure that adding scale doesn’t mean adding people.”

A DevOps manifesto?

Some have suggested that DevOps needs a manifesto to help guide the community and foster communication. Etsy’s operations engineer Katherine Daniels sees why that might be helpful, but thinks we need something a bit less structured:

One of the things that gives DevOps its strength is that there’s no one really strict definition. It allows the movement to grow and to change and evolve as we learn things, as we learn more about how people best work together or as new technologies develop. If we can give DevOps kind of a loose set of principles that we can talk about without getting too far into nailing down the specifics, that’s a good compromise.

You can see more keynotes and interviews in the 2015 O’Reilly Velocity Conference in Santa Clara playlist.

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