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OpsCamp RoundUp – What’s Next for Cloud Computing and IT Operations

OpsCamp - Cloud Computing Operations and Systems Management

So what do you do on a cold winter’s Saturday in Austin? Well if you are interested in Cloud Computing and IT operations you go to OpsCamp. This past Saturday was the first of what we hope to be many OpsCamps, held in an unconference format, to discuss ideas around next generation technologies and strategies for IT Operations.

The OpsCamp crowd was an eclectic crew of systems administrators, open source software developers, traditional software people, and service providers who came together to figure out how to address the needs of IT operations and the tools they use to administer virtual/cloud systems.

One Theme – Everything Old is New Again

I sat in on quite a few conversations most centered around two old themes: Monitoring and Configuration Management. While the problems are similar the landscape is changing. The use of the term devops was very prevalent noting that systems administrators are often required to have some degree of scripting and software development skills to adequately do their job. Effective systems administration goes beyond keeping servers running but the automation of tedious process to increase productivity. In the monitoring arena concerns centered around the amount of data we collect and how to make that actionable to assure consistent service levels.

Lightning Talks

The event started out with a word from the sponsors who had five minutes to talk about their products and services or otherwise woo the crowd. The main sponsors each took their shot at defining their interests in the cloud and how they could help during five minuted lightning talks. Presenters included Erik Dahl (CTO of Zenoss), Brett Piatt (Technical Alliance Manager at Rackspace Hosting) and Luke Kanies (Founder of Puppet and Reductive Labs).

Thanks to the other sponsors Bitnami, Opscode, Spiceworks and Redmonk who also helped make the event happen.

The Unpanel

Rather than having a meticulously planned agenda OpsCamp is interactive. During the Unpanel members of the audience got on stage and talked about what they thought would be interesting topics to discuss this included OpsCode CTO  Adam Jacob, Zenoss CTO Erik Dahl, Puppet founder, Luke Kanies, Travis Campbell from the University of Texas, Systems Administrator Matt Lawrence, Damon Edwards — President of DTO Solutions, Andrew Schafer and moderator extraordinaire — John M. Willis. This led to an interactive session with the rest of the OpsCamp attendees to address the following questions:

  • What is DevOps?
  • What is monitoring?
  • How do you monitor/manage/apps/systems that use multiple environments
  • Should I be listening to events or actively monitoring systems?
  • Have you thought about monitoring from the cloud into your data center?
  • What are the new things that need to be monitored?

The panel discussion was very interesting as well as the audience inputs. The session runs about 30 minutes but is pretty interesting to get the takes on cloud computing challenges from some exceptionally bright people.

OpsCamp Unsessions

The OpsCamp Session Board


After quite a bit of discussion the sessions were decided on the following sessions:

  • Agent Evolution – Do we need agents for management and if so are they going to be heavy, tedious and burdensome as the agents we have come to know and love.
  • The Evolving Role of the Sysadmin
  • Monitoring for the Cloud or Service Level Assurance
  • Toolchains for Clouds
  • Vendor “schmoozing” to talk about the products the vendors had to offer for cloud computing

The Organizers

Even though the conference was an unconference I think a big nod needs to go to my fellow organizers (or my co-conspirators) who worked together virtually from all over the country to pull of the event. Many thanks go to Damon Edwards (DTO Solutions and part of the Control Tier project),  John M. Willis (cloud guru from OpsCode) and Dave Nielsen (Founder of CloudCamp),

Videos and Pics

Damon has some videos from the day with Luke Kanies of Puppet and Reductive Labs and Bill Karpovich, CEO of Zenoss on the Dev2ops blog. We also have a bunch of pictures from the event in the OpsCamp Flickr group.I created an OpsCamp Twitter list for those of you looking for some folks who are smart on cloud computing and devops.

Keep your eye on for future events. I believe this one was one of many to be held around the world.

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More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at