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Is running an open-source conference a business risk?

Written by:
Heikki Hämäläinen

All too often in the technology industry we think in terms of competition and competitiveness. You would think that bringing peers (‘competitors’) under one roof is a business risk. I’ve been at the helm of an effort to do just that in the field of DevOps. It’s happening next week with DEVOPS 2018 (13-14 December, Helsinki).

The following article was originally published on Heikki Hämäläinen's LinkedIn page

Setting competition aside when most of the year it sharpens focus is, counterintuitively enough, not a risk. It’s not even an opportunity.

It’s a necessity.

Because you can’t steer the DevOps industry through siloes

Sometimes you need to take a step back from the ship flying your flag (in my case, Eficode) and look at the larger fleet and where that is heading: trends, practices, and battle stories. Only by taking that step back can you steer where the larger fleet is heading, and grow the influence of that fleet. Make DevOps as an industry better.

As an industry, we are one. DevOps is a revolutionary concept that makes 0 day delivery a reality, leading to faster time to market, and ultimately, better products for businesses and consumers. DevOps drives efficiency and leads to more meaningful work for the software section of software-driven organization. Losing sight of the big picture and the mission of DevOps as an industry: that’s the real risk.

In steering the industry, we’re steering the world

But the picture gets even bigger. In steering the industry together, we’re not only steering a fleet of DevOps engineers, team leaders, tool chain creators. We’re also steering the vast majority of businesses around the world whose C-suite utilise software to make better business decisions and to automate repetitive processes. Some businesses haven’t woken up to this yet, and still in many ways we’re writing their future.

As I mentioned, in order to do that noble task more effectively, there are points in time where even the word ‘competitor’ is a no-go. There are times when DevOps/Automation/AI specialists are peers no matter who pays their bills, because it is in sharpening skills and widening the discussion through debate that we take the industry forward together. Biased technology and vendor selections may make you the short-term bucks when running an event, but if you mean what you say that should be avoided at all costs.

Will DEVOPS 2018 achieve that?

What we’ve done with DEVOPS 2018 is take knowledge that is geographically siloed, such as SingularityNET which does not operate in the Nordics, to a European audience and bring other international players to Europe for a richer discussion. Dr Ben Goertzel’s keynote (SingularityNET’s CEO) on decentralized AI will place that philosophy within AI advances as a whole and will feed into the ethos of DevOps. We see that DevOps as a methodology and a framework has matured over the years, but at the same time there is huge pressure to interlink and connect AI-driven development, or Augmented DevOps to the Software Development Life Cycle. There will be 26 Keynotes, 8 Workshops and 6 Themed Tracks in total at the event.

DEVOPS the event was born more than 3 years ago to welcome the ideas and the honing of ideas that will build the best software-driven organizations in the world. “Everything is Code” (our first year’s theme) has now evolved into “Intelligent Leadership” for DEVOPS 2018. This also describes the movement in the DevOps community from mere code-based thinking towards more code & data based approach.

Sharing is one of the core values of the DevOps movement (and sits within CAMS). Without replicating the values of DevOps within the industry of DevOps, values which shrink lead times at the companies we work with, we stamp on the heart of the matter. Events create a one-stop-shop of knowledge which fuels thinking for the rest of the year, but you can’t have that without sharing.

No hype, just results

As an industry we may fly under the general public’s radar, being a little too technical and humble at times. I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. At Eficode, we’ve gotten in the habit of saying “No hype, just results”. I’m not criticising Slush which you may or may not have heard of this week. What I’m saying is that as an industry we may be a bit of a closed box, but the C-suites of industry heavy hitters are tuning in because of the results they get from DevOps. The industry is growing and it will continue to grow, as long as we have the foresight to look at the big picture regularly. The result will be a bigger pie to carve a piece out of.

At DEVOPS 2018 we’re taking the open source nature of the event further by letting the public decide the theme for the next DEVOPS event. Every voice counts equally: I’m stepping down from that decision-making process and ceding to the public.

Your personal invite

Take this as a personal invitation to be there next week and see for yourself how the opportunity of events which bring the industry forwards greatly outweighs the risk. I’d very much like to see you there from 13-14 December at the Clarion Hotel, Helsinki. Whether you’re a developer who wants to stay ahead, a team leader who wants to stop the silo, or a business leader with DevOps as an executive target, come steer the fleet together with us.