10 Tips for Your First DevOpsDays NYC

This year I have the privilege of being part of the organizing committee for DevOpsDays New York City. It’s been an exciting (and busy) journey so far though I’m learning a lot about how to put together a 1 track conference with over 600 attendees, 20+ sponsors, and 20 speakers in NYC. There’s a lot that goes into organizing a conference; sponsors, CFPs, agendas, signage, registrations, volunteers, marketing, payments, vendors, and of course, FOOD!

As this is only my 2nd DevOpsDays conference so I’m not yet an expert though I do know a thing or two about speaking at and attending tech conferences. So, here are my tips for any first-timers that plan on heading to DevOpsDays New York City on March 3 – 4, 2020:

1 – Find the speakers and organizers on Twitter and LinkedIn and connect with them – This will help you grow your network while getting prepped for what you may see at the conference. The cool thing about DevOpsDays is that it is a 1-track conference, meaning you won’t miss a speaker if you hang out in the main hall. Many other conferences have different tracks requiring you to make a decision on what to see and what to miss. Another great thing to keep in mind is that the conference will publish the talks on YouTube after the event allowing you to go back and relook if you miss something. Here are the Speakers, the Program, and the Organizers for DevOpsDays NYC 2020:

If you have time, catch my colleague, Victoria Geronimo, presenting DevSecOps is a Misnomer and get some insight into exactly where Security fits in the “DevSecOps” pipeline and culture and on specific challenges companies face, and the things they do to address those challenges.

2 – Bring your resume, a link to your resume, or a business card if you’re looking for something new. There are tons of sponsors you can talk to that are looking to hire and there are no ‘badge scanners’ at this conference so you’ll have to provide them your contact info in a quick/easy way. Remember if you sign up at a booth with your email address, they’re likely to follow up with a few sales emails. So, I always like to have a specific email address for events so that I can sort through these. Gmail helps with this by allowing you to add filters too. You can easily print personal business cards for cheap using a service like Vistaprint. Include your name, title or role (developer, engineer, ops guru, etc.), email and phone number. Add a link to your resume / Twitter / LinkedIn / GitHub as well so people can get connect with you.

Here is a list of Sponsors that you can check out now. Do some quick research on what they do and which ones you want to stop by and chat with. It’s good to come with a checklist of things you want to do/accomplish so that you don’t get distracted by all the activity and the other 599 people at the conference:

3 – Plan to meet at least 3 people at the event, get connected with them on social media, and follow up for coffee or a quick chat. This is my networking secret that helps me build real contacts instead of just people I said hello to at a conference. We all have something to share and give so don’t feel like asking for 15 minutes of their time is too much. You can easily connect on LinkedIN at the conference and then send them a note that night saying

“It was nice to meet you at DevOpsDays NYC! I’d love to chat about [opportunities, your experience, your company, how you got to where you are] if you have 15 mins next week to catch up. How does [insert day/time] work for you”

4 – Get your elevator pitch down. This includes who you are (name and role), where you’re from/company/school, and what you’re looking to get out of the event (learn, meet industry people, be a future speaker, etc.). You may also want to have a quick sentence on what you can offer others at the event like connections, directions to the nearest good coffee, or just a nice conversation.

5 – Open Spaces are fun but may be a little intimidating for many newcomers and introverts. It’s good to know how they work before being forced into a circle and share your thoughts. DevOpsDays puts out a quick guide here for organizers and below is my 6 step open space guide for attendees:

  • Topic Submission – People submit topics they want to talk about or a discussion they want to lead. You can submit a topic too! Just put it on the board when the organizers ask.
  • Everyone Votes for Topics – This is usually facilitated via an online app that you can download. Sometimes stickers are handed out and you will place a sticker next to the topic you’re interested in talking about. Some conferences give 3 votes, others give 1. Choose what open discussion you want to be included in or listen to.
  • Topic Organization – The event staff will organize open space topics by vote into break out rooms. This is done usually during the lunch time so after lunch you can check out where the open spaces you voted for are taking place. At DevOpsDays NYC 2020, we’ll likely have 3 open spaces per day so you will have 6 opportunities across 2 days to participate in an open talk.
  • Find Your Room – The open spaces will be held on all different floors too so keep an eye out for the room number and signs or ask for help getting to your open space. I like to take a picture of the board so I don’t forget the room numbers.
  • Attend the Open Space – When you enter the room there may be someone in the center introducing what they wanted to talk about. Introduce yourself, get involved, help circle up the chairs, sit down in the circle or near the organizer to get a good view and try to say at least 1 thing during the open space, even if it’s a question to others. This is your opportunity to share what you know but also a great opportunity to learn. It is okay to leave an open space if it’s not interesting to you. Just walk out of the room. No one will be offended they’re too busy talking anyway. ;0)
  • Rinse and Repeat – Attend as many open spaces as you’d like and try to take advantage of the time to learn something new. Don’t forget to find a way to continue the conversation if you found it interesting. A great way is to connect with the topic submitter via Twitter or LinkedIN and follow up.

6 – Make time to attend the evening social. This event is in the same venue so you don’t have to go far and food/drink will be served (so you won’t want to miss it). DevOpsDays NYC Evening Social is on March 3rd at 5 pm right after the last session on day 1. It’s a great way to meet the speakers, sponsors, attendees, and organizers and grow your network quickly while in a relaxed environment.

7 – Wear something that makes you comfortable but looks semi professional in case you’re looking for a job. You could be meeting with recruiters, hiring managers, etc. Also remember this is a DevOps conference so most of us aren’t wearing suits and ties and dresses. I’ll be wearing jeans, sneakers, and an organizer t-shirt, and bringing a sweater You do you. Be authentic but neat.

8 – Use Social Media. A great way to gain new Twitter followers is to live tweet your thoughts during a talk and tag the speaker and the event, @DevOpsDaysNYC. Share what you’ve learned, what they said that really impressed you, and your followers will start flowing in. It’s also great to post on LinkedIN to share your experience through pictures and thoughts. Posting on LinkedIN helps you come up in search results more often for potential employers. Use the hashtags #devops #devopsdays #devopsdaysnyc to make sure your messages get noticed. Don’t forget to follow these hashtags and retweet/like other peoples posts too.

9 – Read and Abide by the Code of Conduct. DevOpsDays has a clear code of conduct providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone. Remember to read it prior to the event and also report any harassment to an organizer immediately. We will support you.

10 – Take a Break. This is my most important tip for all conferences. You do not have to see every speaker, participate in every activity, or even stay the whole time if your mind/body isn’t into it. It’s not easy being around 600 people in close quarters for 2 days so remember, taking a break in one of the Open Space rooms, taking a quick walk around Central Park, or grabbing a coffee outside of the venue is perfectly fine.

2nd Watch is also sponsoring the event, so make sure to look for us and stop by for a chat!

-Stefana Muller, Sr Product Manager – DevOps & Migration


AWS re:Invent 2019: Daily Recap – Tuesday

Day 2 of AWS re:Invent 2019 kicked off with the Las Vegas strip turning into a parking lot as many attendees spent upwards of an hour getting from their hotels to the Sands Expo Convention Center at the Venetian. The increase in attendance this year to almost 65,000 attendees is obvious!

Once you navigated the traffic and arrived at the convention, the highlight of the day was AWS CEO, Andy Jassy’s, Keynote address.

Jassy began with emphasizing that many companies are still trying to make the cloud transformation and struggle or get stuck in the process.  According to Jassy, in order for a company to make a successful transformation to the cloud, it must have four things:

  1. Senior leadership conviction and alignment
  2. Top-down aggressive goals
  3. Training for its builders
  4. Refusal to let paralysis stop you before you start

As is typical of his keynote, today’s was filled with announcements of new features on AWS, largely geared for the Enterprise.  We captured 22 new features in all:

The first announcement was of AWS’ new in-house developed Graviton 2 chip EC2 instances capable of delivering 40% better price for performance.

Other features announced were:

AWS Compute Optimizer, a new machine learning-based recommendation service that makes it easy for you to ensure that you are using optimal AWS Compute resources

The ability to run Kubernetes pods on AWS Fargate using Amazon EKS. There’s no need to provision or manage infrastructure, and you pay for resources at pod-level with secure pod-level isolation by design

Amazon S3 Access Points, a new S3 feature that simplifies managing data access at scale for shared data sets on Amazon S3.

AQUA (the Advanced Query Accelerator) for Amazon Redshift, a hardware-accelerated cache that promises up to 10x better query performance than competing cloud-based data warehouses

Amazon Redshift Federated Query that allows you to query and analyze data across operational databases, data warehouses, and data lakes.

Amazon Redshift RA3 Instances with Managed Storage that allows you to size your cluster based only on your compute needs.

UltraWarm, which lets you store and interactively analyze your data using Elasticsearch and Kibana

Amazon Managed Cassandra Service, thate nables you to run your Cassandra workloads in the AWS Cloud using the same Cassandra application code

Amazon Sagemaker received a ton of love during the keynote with several significant announcements:

Amazon Sagemaker Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for machine learning (ML) that lets you easily build, train, debug, deploy and monitor your machine learning models.

Amazon Sagemaker Experiments lets you organize, track, and compare your machine learning training experiments on Amazon Sagemaker.

Amazon Sagemaker Notebooks allows developers to spin up machine learning notebooks in seconds.

Amazon Sagemaker Debugger is a new capability that provides complete insights into the training process of machine learning models.

Amazon Sagemaker Model Maker detects concept drift by monitoring models deployed to production, automatically.

With Amazon Sagemaker Autopilot, Amazon SageMaker can use your tabular data and the target column you specify to automatically train and tune your model, while providing full visibility into the process.

Still more announcements included:

Amazon CodeGuru performs automated code reviews for development teams.

Amazon Kendra is a new enterprise search powered by machine learning and natural language.

AWS Local Zones place compute, storage and database services close to large cities, beginning with Los Angeles.

Amazon Fraud Detector is a fully managed service to easily identify potentially fraudulent online activities such as online payment fraud and the creation of fake accounts.

Amazon Detective makes it easy to analyze, investigate, and quickly identify the root cause of potential security issues or suspicious activities.

AWS Wavelength provides seamless access to the breadth of AWS services by embedding AWS compute and storage services at the edge of telecommunications providers’ 5G networks.

And the announcement I a most excited about – the GA launch of AWS Outposts.  Outposts brings AWS public cloud functionality to your on-premises data center. For clients that have struggled with full cloud adoption for various reasons, such as regulatory concerns, data sovereignty, physical security concerns, latency issues, migration issues, etc., Outposts addresses all of these concerns.  The other reason I am extremely excited about Outposts is because 2nd Watch is one of AWS’ Outpost launch partners able to help you explore this option today!

That wrapped the Keynote highlights for Tuesday and leaves us looking forward to CTO, Dr. Werner Vogels’, Keynote on Wednesday along with the 2nd Watch After Party.  See you there!

-Dusty Simoni, Sr. Product Manager


2nd Watch AWS re:Invent 2019 Breakout Sessions

2nd Watch is presenting two breakout sessions at AWS re:Invent 2019. Add these to your session agenda to attend!

Simple Path to AWS Managed Services (AMS): Wednesday, December 4 – 1:45PM – The Venetian

With AWS Managed Services (AMS) you can eliminate the complexity of managing IT Ops and re-focus on enhancing and delivering your applications. In this session, learn how to accelerate your journey to the cloud by using AMS. We’ll cover the process for assessing, migrating and operationalizing your infrastructure from your on-premise datacenter or existing cloud environment to AMS. Attend this session to learn key steps to streamline this process using automation and infrastructure as code to set up network connectivity, access management, logging, monitoring, backups and configuration. You’ll also discover integration points for an existing managed service provider to seamlessly work with AMS.

Add to your agenda

CCPA – State Privacy Laws’ Effect On Cloud Development: Wednesday, December 4 – 2:10PM – The Venetian

Several states followed the European Union’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by enacting their own consumer privacy laws.  California’s Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), effective January 2020, goes even further in defining what constitutes private data. What does that mean for your cloud journey and the development of cloud native applications? How will you secure private data, adhering to each state’s regulations, while building a foundation for future law changes without straining cloud infrastructure and digital application teams? This session highlights obligations to be aware of, policies and procedures to pursue, cloud architectural considerations, and KPI’s to determine successful implementation.

Add to your agenda

See you in Vegas!


Top 5 takeaways from AWS re:Invent 2018

While AWS re:Invent 2018 is still fresh in our minds, let’s take a look at some of the most significant and exciting AWS announcements made. Here are our top five takeaways from AWS re:Invent 2018.

Number 5: AWS DeepRacer

To be honest, when I first saw DeepRacer I wasn’t paying full attention to the keynote.  After previous years’ announcements of Amazon Snowball and Snowmobile, I thought this might be the next version of how AWS is going to be moving data around. Instead we have an awesome little car that will give people exposure to programming and machine learning in a fun and interesting way. I know people at 2nd Watch are hoping to form a team so that we can compete at the AWS races. Anything that can get people to learn more about machine learning is a good thing as so many problems could be solved elegantly with machine learning solutions.

Number 4: Amazon Managed Blockchain and Amazon Quantum Ledger Database

Amazon has finally plunged directly into the Blockchain world that seems to get so much media attention these days.  Built upon the Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB), Amazon Managed Blockchain will give you the ability to integrate with the Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric. QLDB will allow you to store information in a way so that transactions can never be lost or modified.  For instance, rather than storing security access in a log file or a database you can store transactions in the QLDB.  This will make it easy to guarantee integrity of the security access for audit purposes.

Number 3: RDS on VMWare

Having worked with many companies that are concerned about moving into the cloud, RDS on VMWare could be a great first step on their journey to the cloud. Rather than taking the full plunge into the cloud, companies will be able to utilize RDS instances in their existing VMWare environments.  Since databases are such a critical piece of infrastructure, much of the initial testing can be done on-premises.  You can set up RDS on VMWare in your dev environment alongside your current dev databases and begin testing without ever needing to touch things in AWS.  Then, once you’re ready to move the rest of your infrastructure to the cloud, you’ll have one less critical change you’ll have to make.

Number 2: AWS Outposts

EC2 instances in your datacenter – and not just EC2 instances, but pretty much anything that uses EC2 under the hood (RDS, EMR, Sagemaker, etc.) – will be able to run out of your datacenter.  The details are a little scant, but it sounds as though AWS is going to send you rack mount servers with some amount of storage built into them.  You’ll rack them, power them, plug them into your network and be good to go.  From a network perspective, it sounds like these instances will be able to show up as a VPC but also be able to connect directly into your private network. For users that aren’t ready to migrate to the cloud for whatever reason, Outposts could be the perfect way to start extending into AWS.

Number 1: AWS Transit Gateway

AWS Transit Gateway is a game changer for companies with many VPCs, VPNs, and eventually Direct Connect connections.  At 2nd Watch we help companies design their cloud infrastructure as simply and elegantly as possible. When it comes to interconnecting VPC’s, the old ways were always very painful and manually intensive.  With Transit Gateways you’ll have one place to go to manage all of your VPC interconnectivity.  The Transit Gateway will act as a hub and ensure that your data can be routed safely and securely. This will make managing all of your AWS interconnectivity much easier!

-Philip Seibel, Managing Cloud Consultant


AWS re:Invent 2018: Product Reviews & Takeaways

Interesting Takeaways

AWS re:Invent always has new product launches. The “new toys” are usually the ones that catch the most coverage, but there are a few things we feel are quite interesting coming out of re:Invent 2018 and decided they’d fit in their own section. Some are new products or additions to old products and some are based on the conversations or sessions heard around the event. Read on for our take on things!

AWS Marketplace for Containers

Announced at the Global Partner Summit keynote, the AWS Marketplace for Containers is the next logical step in the Marketplace ecosystem. Vendors will now be able to offer container solutions for their products, just as they do with AWS EC2 AMIs. The big takeaway here is just how important containerization is and how much of a growth we see in the implementation of containerized products and serverless architectures in general. Along with the big announcements around AWS Lambda, this just solidifies the push in the industry to adopt serverless models for their applications.

AWS Marketplace – Private Marketplace

The AWS Marketplace has added the Private Marketplace to its feature set. You can now have your own marketplace that’s shared across your AWS Organizations. This is neat and all, but I think what’s even more interesting is what it hints at in the background. It seems to me that in order to have a well established marketplace at all, your organization is going to need to be journeying on that DevOps trail: smaller teams who own and deploy focused applications (in this case, internally). I think it shows that a good deployment pipeline is really the best way to handle a project, regardless if it’s for external customers or internal customers.


This looks really cool. Firecracker is a virtualization tool that is built specifically for microVMs and function-based services (like Lambda or Fargate). It runs on bare metal… wait, what? I thought we’re trying to move AWAY from our own hosted servers?! That’s true, and I’ll be honest, I don’t think many of our customers will be utilizing it. However, consider all the new IoT products and features that were announced at the conference and you’ll see there’s still a lot of bare metal, both in use AND in development! I don’t think Firecracker is meant solely for large server farm type setups, but quite possibly for items in the IoT space. The serverless / microservice architecture is a strong one, and this allows that to happen in the IoT space. I’m currently working on installing it onto my kids’ minecraft micro computer. Do I smell another blog post?

Andy Jassy Says What?

In the fireside chat with Andy Jassy in the partner keynote, there were several things I found interesting, albeit not surprising (moving away from Oracle DB), but there was one that stood out above the rest:

I hear enterprises, all the time, wanting help thinking about how they can innovate at a faster clip. And, you know, it’s funny, a lot of the enterprise EBC’s I get to be involved in… I’d say roughly half the content of those are enterprises asking me about our offering and how we think about our business and what we have planned in the future, but a good chunk of every one of those conversations are enterprises trying to learn how we move quickly and how we invent quickly, and I think that enterprises realize that in this day and age if you are not reinventing fast and iterating quickly on behalf of your customers, it’s really difficult to be competitive. And so I think they want help from you in how to invent faster. Now, part of that is being able to operate on top of the cloud and operate on top of a platform like AWS that has so many services that you can stitch together however you see fit. Some of it also is, how do people think about DevOps? How do people think about organizing their teams? You know… what are the right constraints that you have but that still allow people to move quickly.

He said DevOps! So larger companies that are looking to change don’t just want fancy tools and fancy technology, but they also need help getting better at affecting change. That’s absolutely outside the wheelhouse of AWS, but I think it’s very interesting that he specifically called that out, and called it out during the partner keynote. If you’re interested in learning more about any of these announcements, contact us.

-Lars Cromley, Director of Engineering


AWS re:Invent Breakout Session – Proven Methodologies for Accelerating Cloud Journey

With a week full of sessions, bootcamps and extra-curriculars at AWS re:Invent 2018, you might not have had time to make it to our breakout session. Watch “Proven Methodologies for Accelerating Your Cloud Journey” on-demand now to see what you missed.

Learn how to accelerate your journey to the cloud while implementing a cloud-first strategy without sacrificing the controls and standards required in a large, publicly-traded enterprise.  Benefit from insights developed from working with some of the most recognized brands in the world. Discover how these household names leverage automation, CI / CD, and a modular approach to workload design to ensure consistent application of their security and governance requirements. Learn which approaches to use when transforming workloads to cloud native technologies, including serverless and containers.  With this approach, business users can finally receive properly governed resources without delaying or disrupting their need for agility, flexibility and cloud scale.

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