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Velocity 2014 was nice -- I really enjoyed it. But DevOps Enterprise Summit? It was the bomb! It could have been the “new-ness.” It could have been the smaller crowd. It could have been the tighter focus on enterprise concerns. It could have been the friendly and welcoming atmosphere created by our hosts. I don't know what it was but rather than analyze the differences, I'd rather celebrate my favorite moments from DOES 2014.

Money, War, Robots and ... Love

I came to San Francisco, 3000 miles from the town I’ve called home for more than 20 years and I found I was not alone. I was not alone in my physical journey as people from all over the world came out to DevOps Enterprise Summit. I was not alone in my professional journey as everyone was drawn to this one of a kind conference to talk about money, war, robots, the big corporate machines that are just now waking up and to my big surprise ... Love. What kind of of subject brings such passion for robots and love? DevOps DOES!

The five memorable moments below only begin to scratch the surface of what really went on at DevOps enterprise, but they do give you a taste of what Gene Kim and the folks at IT Revolution have been doing in the kitchen while they work on their anxiously awaited DevOps Cookbook.

5. Gandhi & Patton -- Starting off the list is the incredibly warm, engaged and positive reaction I got from the audience of my talk on how to speed up adoption of DevOps or other changes in consensus organizations. I took the audience on a deep dive into “the jerk paradox” -- which limits the contributions of the smartest but somehow most foolish workers in the enterprise.

Served with a side helping of history, this presentation on conversation and trust dynamics, was designed to help the gifted but frustrated individuals and leaders overcome the constraints they unintentionally place on themselves when engaging others.

4. "We want to build skynet!" and "We welcome our robot overlords!" -- Glenn O’Donnell, vice president and research director at Forrester, stared into the technophobic eyes of people lined up against automation and dropped these bombs in his speech to a packed house.

O'Donnell talked about the skills and jobs of the waning past and ruthlessly called for people to “be the automator” rather than the “automated.” The “dying jobs” list included administrators of all flavors: systems administrator, network administrator, storage administrator and database administrator. In his unyielding quest for technology professionals to be on top of the wave of the future, rather than under it, O’Donnell called out the jobs of the future including: automation architect, business relationship manager, service engineer, workflow/process experts and customer advocates.

3. “You can't invest too much in QA automation" -- Gary Gruver, fresh out of an agile transformation at Macy’s, gave this advice to those who are treading the “enterprise transformation" path he has now twice walked: first with HP and then Macy’s. The agile transformation path for medium and large enterprises is not an easy one, and getting sufficient funds and attention to solve the lowest level and unsexiest problem of them all, i.e. quality assurance (QA) automation, is harder than almost every other type of automation.

QA automation is so difficult because opposition comes from two sides. Executive leaders think “configuration management” and “continuous deployment” ten times over before they think about QA and testing. When they do buy off, the understanding of the commitment required for a sustainable automated QA infrastructure still takes years to develop. On the other side of the coin, an entire generation of QA resources with manual testing and exploratory testing skills are up in arms as the industry continues its slow march into the fully automated, cloud hosted, always running, QA infrastructure future.

Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

2. Gene Kim is the Ferris Bueller of the DevOps movement - Kim is beloved by all those associated with DevOps. No matter if they came to DevOps from performance, automation, monitoring and measurement, cultural change or executive leadership, they all feel the same: Kim is a righteous dude.

It’s hard to say what it is that he brings, but when you watch him enter the hotel you'll see everyone scramble to get just a little bit of his time. To say hello, to shake his hand, to ask when the DevOps cookbook is going to be released or just to say “Thanks for making me feel like I belong to something bigger than my job. Thanks for taking on the mission of improving the lives of 1,000,000 technology workers around the globe."

DevOps Storytellers are Creating a New Reality

1. The Lefties are rising as the leaders who spoke in parables and empathy ruled the day - Huzzah! The humanists and creative thinkers are winning in the halls of enterprise IT and product technology shops across America. Around this time last year I predicted that right-brained transformational leadership would emerge in technology leadership. This phenomenon was visible at Velocity NY where “Empathy” was the word of the week. This love-fest was evidenced not only with my talk on the overlap between UX and DevOps, but by the wealth of great presentations by Jeff Sussna, of Ingineering.IT, Nikolas Katsimpras, from Columbia University and all the way up to Tim O’Reilly himself.

Leadership and articulation with a creative flair went to a new level at DevOps Enterprise Summit with Justin Arbuckle, VP and Chief Enterprise Architect of Chef, going into full-throttle parable mode. He was not alone.

The sessions with an “edutainment” center both included and were beautifully complemented by others that featured great business results for those who led with a creative, growth mindset. The most compelling of these metric centered talks was given Nicole Forsgren, assistant professor, Utah State University when she spoke about “DevOps and the Bottom Line.” This featured the research project she led with Gene Kim and several other leaders in the DevOps space.

DevOps has truly crossed over and is gaining importance for enterprises of all sizes. With this in mind, I posit that the enterprises of the world fall into two camps: they have either taken notice of the DevOps movement or they are on notice and unknowingly waiting for some enterprise to come and eat their lunch with an “every business is a software business” mindset.

Title image by Cle0patra (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license