Marc, Andy, and Pinja look back on the highlights of The DEVOPS Conference 2023, covering transformations, AI, Developer Experience (DX), and platform engineering, as well as notable speakers from Saxo Bank, Adobe, HSBC, Spotify, and Syntasso. Be sure to catch the event in March 2024.
Pinja (00:06): Just seeing how people light up in these kind of events does what really is 'the whole thing' for me in these kinds of things.
Marc (00:21): This season, Andy and Marc are back with a fantastic group of guests.
Andy (00:26): I've been to depths that remain classified. And Marc keeps his head in the clouds. With our combined experience in the industry, we can go from the bare metal to the boardroom. Enjoy your time in the DevOps Sauna.
Marc (00:45): Hello-hello, we are back in the sauna. This is The DEVOPS Conference Scandinavia Postgame Podcast. I have my usual cohort and in this case, stage speaker, Mr. Andy Allred.
Andy (01:01): Hello-hello. Great to be back.
Marc (01:03): All right. And I also have my co-host extraordinaire, the lovely and talented Pinja Kujala.
Pinja (01:10): Hey there.
Marc (01:11): All right, guys, we just got off the road from a fantastic week in Scandinavia. We went to Stockholm and to Copenhagen with The DEVOPS Conference live in front of hundreds and hundreds of people. And we had some really fantastic guests. One of the things that makes these conferences really special for me is we have some hundreds of people in the room who are all excited about similar things, and who all are basically trying to make their lives and the lives of the people that they work with, developers, people in operations, infrastructure, trying to make people's lives better. How do you guys see the feeling of this kind of conference?
Pinja (01:51): To me, it's very inspiring to have this overall, the feeling of, as I said, hundreds and hundreds of people with us and have that excitement in the room and in the hallway discussions. It's just amazing.
Andy (02:04): I remember when I went to KubeCon and there were 11,000 nerds in the same building, all talking about cloud native stuff. And it was just incredible. But the topics that were being discussed, and the open-source projects and the themes, and everything was just so vast, it was really overwhelming. At the same time, it was cool. The DEVOPS Conference in Copenhagen and in Stockholm, it was a little bit of the same feeling, but a lot more focus. So the geographies where people were coming from were more focused. And the topics we were talking about was less because it was a one-day event. So we had fewer topics, which meant that there was so much more in common that even though it felt smaller, it was really, really more focused in that way, really good.
Marc (02:53): We've got this megatrend going on right now, AI, which also kind of overshadowed a lot of the things that we saw. But another thing I really like about this kind of style of conference is it's a little bit unique because there's not a Q&A after every speaker. So instead, what we did is we had this hallway track where we could go out and we could, you know, pursue the speaker or take our group of friends and talk about what we had just seen. It was really, really kind of unique. So the whole focus of the speakers' time is on the stage. And then they're just another conference participant being available to everyone afterwards. It was really cool.
Pinja (03:31): Yeah, that agenda was on purpose, so that we had a break after every single talk so that we would allow these kinds of interactions between everybody in the audience and the speaker. But as well, people in the audience being able to mingle amongst themselves and have that special moment to actually start those conversations and get that connection with one another.
Marc (03:53): It feels a lot like a family reunion. The circles are small. But let's talk about a couple of the themes. One of the themes that we had was transformations. And this was really well represented this year. We had three very, very different, but very interesting and large-scale transformation topics. The first one Jinhong Brejnholt from Saxo Bank. I got to see this one twice, her keynote, and it was a beautiful focus on how do you culturally drive a transformation and how do you continuously follow up so that you have not only continuous change process, but a continuous improvement process that takes you closer and closer to connecting the developers and the customers to create value. It left you speechless.
Andy (04:45): Indeed.
Pinja (04:46): I would have really loved to say something about Jinhong’s speech. Unfortunately, I did not get to see this as I was on the other track myself.
Andy (04:55): I did get to see Jinhong’s speech and it was a good one. And it was just an interesting story from the point of here's a bank. And banks are something that we don't normally think of as nimble and agile and reacting fast. But we have a few banks actually in the audience there and represented. And here is a bank that which has basically dedicated themselves to let's not be legacy. They have a dinosaur in the cafeteria to remind themselves that, hey, we don't want to be running the old stuff. And everything they do is around, how can we do this more modern, better, more efficient, and it's not doing modern things for the sake of doing modern and cool stuff. But let’s do modern things because that's the most effective and efficient way. And how they're always looking at that. It was really, really inspirational.
Pinja (05:45): Speaking of banks, there is not only that legacy, but there is also the fact that they are operating in a very regulated industry. Somehow there is always that feeling that we cannot do this, we cannot go into more modern practices because we're so highly regulated, and because of everything else surrounding us, but a good example here with Saxo Bank.
Marc (06:07): It's one of the things that we see so many times. Somebody in one industry says, well, we're to regulated, we have too many security, we must be on-prem, all of this kind of stuff. And then someone like Jinhong comes along and say, well, we're in the same industry in the same area and look at what we can do. It's really inspirational. One of the most interesting ones for me from the whole conference was Adobe, Alexander Riß. We talked about golden paths, or golden highways, and if you want a golden highway, please ask the Germans to build it for you because then you can go absolutely as fast as you want. And Adobe is a huge company, they have three divisions. And the way that they were able to structure and basically hit state of the art in almost every single category. And the way that Alexander was also able to present it was fascinating. And just really, really fantastic.
Andy (07:02): I was a really big fan of this one, I really enjoyed this talk for a couple of reasons. One is he talked about some of the tech stack that they chose, and it matches my choices. So it was really validating and nice. But then also, I've had a few discussions that, hey, we could do this and make this kind of golden pathway and paved road and set things up. And yeah, but that'll never work at a company of our size. Well, if Adobe can do it, what's your excuse now?
Pinja (07:30): And especially thinking of the scale here, we're talking about how many developers they have just for their platform. We're thinking about the ratio of Platform Developers versus the number of let's say, regular developers, other developers who are building their products, etc. So the scale is huge here. But then we have a big one. This was a big, really a big one. I think what I said when I introduce the speaker, I think I said, buckle up people, David Keane who used to work for HSBC, they have done the largest transformation on scale on record. So they stayed, I think it involves over 50,000 engineers, over 70 plus countries. And again, HSBC is one of the biggest banks in the world. So again, regulated industry, a huge scale. So this was something that combined many of these elements here, and I could just see that the audience was at the edge of their seats. But hey, we have another big topic that we had, which is AI, and we were talking about this already before the conference. But who else would have been a better opener for a DevOps conference than Patrick Dubois. He's called the father of DevOps, some people even call him the godfather of DevOps, but he was talking about how to make Gen AI into more of an operationalized thing, and how to work from that first idea thing into production using Gen AI.
Andy (08:55): This was a really good one. Well, all of these were really good, otherwise, we wouldn't be talking about them. But this one I really enjoyed. Because Patrick went through the here's a little bit about how Gen AI models work, not in any level of detail, but just the basics of hey, you can do training this way, you could do training that way. This is where the industry is going. This is where things are working. And it was just really cool that okay, we all know about ChatGPT. Fine, how do we use it in our company? And he kind of laid out how you can actually use Gen AI inside your own company at a few of the different models and ways to look at it. So it was really, really insightful.
Marc (09:39): Real nuts and bolts stuff here. And it was also beautifully constructed. But as hosts sometimes you practice the names and one of my favorites, Joseph Katsioloudes, ladies and gentlemen, from GitHub. Sponsor talks, some people think, okay, this is sponsored by such and such company and then they're giving a talk, and it's probably going to be sales pitchy or something. But we've had really consistently amazing speakers from GitHub. And Joseph was really fantastic in showing the features that GitHub has with AI, co-pilot and whatnot.
Pinja (10:15): Yeah, I guess this was a really interesting one since we've heard about co-pilot. And we've heard about how many of our customers are currently using this, or how many of our customers are considering starting to use this. But how does security tie into this? So his angle was that security module in co-pilot. How is that weaved in? How does it work? So this was a really good real life example of what can we do with an existing tool that we have right now?
Andy (10:43): Yeah, Marc and I actually did a webinar about co-pilot some months ago. And this is kind of how it works. This is how you could use the chat, etc. And Joseph just expanded on that, and then took it all from the angle of security. So when you think of co-pilot, you think of I get my boilerplate text in there faster. It kind of suggests me ideas for functions, but his whole angle was this is how you can use it to make your code more secure. And this is how you can add more security testing, a more security layer. So it was really, really cool from the this is how co-pilot can help you code angle as well as this is how you can use co-pilot to make your code more secure angle.
Marc (11:24): Yeah, there was one of the themes that we were talking about a lot in the hallway track at The DEVOPS Conference Scandinavia this year was how DevOps has progressed to the level where we're actually really starting to focus on the security part of DEV SEC ops, we're able to actually start making really, really strong improvements. We all want a more secure world. The DEVOPS Conference in Copenhagen was bookended with Patrick Dubois talking about Gen AI at the front end, and Michael Vormittag from Daimler Truck giving us not a blueprint for AI governance in an enterprise, but pretty close in my opinion. He said, this is not a blueprint, but my gosh, what a blueprint it could be.
Pinja (12:05): I fully agree with him, though. Of course, every company is different. But it's very interesting to hear their take. We're talking about, again, a huge enterprise such as Daimler Truck, what is their take on AI? How are they looking at the governance model and everything? There's so many good ideas, and let's say corners and point of view is to consider it for many of us, for example, but also many of the people in the audience, how could we even look at the AI stuff in our own work life?
Andy (12:33): He came and said, every company is different, this probably won't apply to anybody else. And this is not a blueprint. And he gave us okay, let's not call it a blueprint, but it was a scaffold or a template, which basically applies to any company. So you do a little tweaking here and there, and you've pretty much good to go.
Marc (12:52): Yep. And like DevOps, having a clear understanding of governance applies to small, medium, and enterprises alike, so I thought it was really, really well done for Michael.
Pinja (13:06): And once again, the whole discussion, can a large enterprise, a large corporate, do this kind of thing? Yes, they can.
Marc (13:13): Yeah, believe in some of the talks we had shows of hands and there were still people that were either holding out on using the AI tools that are freely available to most of us, or for a small cost available to all of us. And there were still many where their company had not allowed them to use any AI tools. And man, I feel sorry for this situation, they're going to get left behind.
Pinja (13:35): That is one thing that there are also companies who are not allowing their people to use AI tools, but they're not even looking at what would be the policy to use it. Where can we leverage this? But how do we use it in a good in the diligent way so that we actually benefit from it?
Marc (13:52): Cool. The third major theme I'd like to highlight from The DEVOPS Conference, Scandinavia is Developer Experience. And would you like to take the first one, Pinja?
Pinja (14:03): Yes, this was one of my absolute favourites from the conference. We had Adrienne Tacke from Cisco, she's not only has been training people on the importance of code reviews, but she's also an author of a piece book for how to code in Java. But she had this really nice take on how do we go from the bare minimum in code reviews? How do we go from well, it looks good to me to something beyond that, so that we all take responsibility, but she also had this really nice psychological safety aspects to what she was talking about. How do we make sure that everybody is able to raise their hands and ask for help? How do we leave our ego on the door when we go into the code reviews?
Andy (14:46): I was really disappointed. I didn't get to make this talk due to scheduling issues. But when we did the pre-game with her it was just really nice talking about what's really the value of a code review and how can you maximize that value and get out of what it's meant to be. It's not just a yeah, that doesn't look stupid, but you can actually gain a lot from doing a code review.
Marc (15:11): And fortunately, I'm glad you brought it up, Andy, the recordings from both Stockholm and Copenhagen are now available. So if you like, you have three opportunities to listen to Adrianne speak, not only the DevOps Sauna Podcast, but also the recordings from Stockholm and Copenhagen. So a friend of the family, practically our old friend Henrik Høegh from Velux gave an astonishingly good presentation. And anybody if you think that your kind of too quiet for the stage, or you can't make an impact, Henrik really showed the power of speaking kind of quietly, and with a dry wit and being able to really, really tell a story.
Andy (15:53): Yeah, he has this way of presenting that just comes across as very, very humble and really humble, humble, I guess that is the word I'm looking for.
Marc (16:05): It's kind of humble and authoritative at the same time, which I think is really magical.
Andy (16:10): Yeah, he tells a really good story and says this is how we did it. And here's the things we ran into and things you should look for. But it doesn't come across as this is the way. It's like this worked for us.
Pinja (16:24): Yeah, it worked for them. And he brought up the topic of platforms, which is something that so many people and so many companies are talking about right now. In his own way, he made it so practical.
Marc (16:37): Platform Engineering being one of the big trends that we've identified for 2023. And Henrik really delivers on building a platform is not just 'let's get a group of tools,' but let's make sure that we do things that developers love and care about and are actually going to be able to use to create more value. And developers want to code. We want them to code to create customer value and create a clear link there. So a good platform or internal developer platform helps an awful lot. Henrik describes this beautifully in his work with Velux. Then we've got a couple of really interesting keynotes. The first one was we had Spotify in the house.
Pinja (17:21): We had Pia Nilsson and Vincenzo Scamporlino. They were on stage at Stockholm, talking about how they have built a developer experience at Spotify. And how do they use empathy in this? How do they make their developers actually care for the work that they do? And how do they make that work for developers because that's the biggest assets that these companies have.
Marc (17:43): Also, having Backstage in the house was really interesting. We get a lot of customer inquiries about Backstage, everything from what is this developer portal thing? Or what is an internal developer platform? Or what do we need in order to help declutter our development environment. Agile for a long time meant everybody has their own Jenkins, and does things differently. And one of the analogies for Backstage that we found here as a developer portal was it's kind of like a star ground. It's like you can ground your API's, your infrastructure, templates, repositories, documentation across the enterprise. You can ground all of these within Backstage and then use that in order to understand what you've got, and how to improve it.
Marc (18:54): And a reminder from our code of conduct that we do not discriminate against, among other things, technology choices.
Marc (19:06): All right. And then in developer experience, as well, what a storyteller we had in Abby Bangser from Syntasso.
Pinja (19:15): And, again, speaking of platforms, like she mentioned that platform is a platform engineering is the word of the day, as we had also identified in the trends for this year as Marc already mentioned, but what does it actually mean? What do they do? And how can we use them in a good way so that we don't go into agility being just a buzzword, or DevOps being a buzzword or platform engineering being a buzzword? So she went into what is platform engineering and platforms? What are they really in this work?
Andy (19:48): She had a great narrative for the whole thing of this is what we tried to get from agile and this is what we try to get from DevOps. And this is what we're trying to get from platform engineering. And this is how the whole narrative fits together. And really what we're trying to do is this. So call it whatever you want, this is what we need to be looking at, and was really, really well crafted.
Marc (20:10): Yeah, it was absolutely fantastic to be able to see these speakers and to hear their stories. And one of the things that I feel a little bit spoiled as the host that I got to hear many of these fantastic talks more than once. And it's a little different kind of every time, but then being able to go back and hear it a second time. So another reminder that we've got all of the talks from The DEVOPS Conference Stockholm and The DEVOPS Conference Copenhagen, up on eficode.com's website. We'll leave a link for you in the show notes. Any other takeaways, Andy and Pinja?
Pinja (20:50): It was a great week. And once again, we saw the value of these events. It's one thing to look at a video from YouTube or somewhere somebody speaking, but being there present, of course, as I said, privilege of the host is to be there and have that kind of backstage pass for everything. But just seeing how people light up in these kinds of events does what really is the whole thing for me in these kinds of things.
Andy (21:18): Watching the videos is good. And if that's the experience you're able to have, then by all means watch them. It's great. There were some good talks. But the big takeaway for me it was the hallway track. Just talking with other people who are on the same journey and struggling with similar and sometimes different things from different angles. And talk about, yeah, I really liked this talk. This tool is great. We can't use it because of x, y, z. How do you handle this? And things like that. And then just seeing the community of people who are in the same situation was just so rewarding and uplifting.
Marc (21:59): All right. Thank you all so much for listening. I hope that you found some value here and that you go and listen to some of these talks, really, really fantastic set of speakers, all brought to you by The DEVOPS Conference. This is Marc and Andy.
Andy (22:16): Thank you all.
Marc (22:17): And Pinja.
Pinja (22:18): Thank you.
Marc (22:19): Signing off from The DEVOPS Conference Postgame Podcast.
Andy (22:23): Bye-bye.
Pinja (22:25): Bye.
Marc (22:26): Bye. Before we go, let's give our guest an opportunity to introduce themselves and tell you a little bit about who we are.
Pinja (22:36): Hi, I'm Pinja Kujala. I'm an agile and product management coach at Eficode and I had the privilege of co-hosting The DEVOPS Conference Scandinavia with Marc Dillon.
Marc (22:47): My name is Marc Dillon. I'm a lead consultant in the transformation business at Eficode.
Andy (22:52): My name is Andy Allred, and I'm doing platform engineering at Eficode.
Marc (22:56): Thank you for listening. If you enjoyed what you heard, please like and subscribe, it means the world to us. Also check out our other interesting talks and tune in for our next episode. Take care of yourself and remember what really matters is everything we do with machines is to help humans.