I'm happy to announce the first DevOps conference in Israel that will take place on the 28th of January.
In this post I wanted to share with you a bit of the stories behind the scene on how it all started.
How it all started - The story behind the scenes
For those who are not familiar with the topic of DevOps, it can basically be categorized as a movement more than a technology per se.
As with any movement, it comes with a disruptive message that aims to change many of the existing dogmas for how to run Development and IT, in order to improve agility and shorten time to market for launching new features and products. Cloud is not directly related to DevOps, but was a major accelerator, since with Cloud we’re no longer dependent on our IT to do the basic stuff such as setting up machines and networks. Which presented the opportunity to think about doing things differently, and finally break the wall between Development and Operations.
Netflix has been one of the main advocates behind this philosophy, and has served as a great inspiration for many of us who felt that the current setup between devs and ops just isn’t working, but didn't necessarily know how to deal with this. (A good reference on Netflix can be found in Adrian Cockcroft's post - NoOps)
We got involved in DevOps through our work with the Cloudify project which was highly inspired by that same Netflix experience. Through this work we took part in many DevOps related meetups and came to learn and appreciate the people behind the movement both here in Israel and abroad. There was something common that we could all identify with at all of those DevOps meetups - everyone that got involved felt very passionate about it. While this was the case, we still felt that most of the industry events just don’t cover the topic well enough, and we throughout that the community, would be better served if we’d set up a conference that would be dedicated solely to DevOps.
The Team Behind the Vision
Uri Cohen - Uri was the first to come with the idea for setting up a DevOps event in Israel and was and still is, the leading force behind it.
Ran Tavory - Not sure that I have enough words to express how much has Ran contributed to the event. I'm sure that everyone that knows Ran, and how completely he dedicates himself to a cause he believes in, would know what I mean. I simply can't imagine a DevOps event without Ran.
Sharone Revah Zitzman - Sharone took on the challenge of setting up the event, and has been extremely passionate about it. Everything that you see starting from the website, through the t-shirts are her making.
I also had the honor to be a part of this great team as Uri's and Sharone right arm.
As this was the first DevOps event in Israel we didn't really know how big the community actually is in Israel. During all the initial phases we had lots of doubts even amongst ourselves on whether we can justify a full day event dedicated only to this topic. That has been probably the biggest challenge we faced in setting this all up.
It's all about the content:
We knew early on that if we really want to get the DevOps community involved we must and cannot compromise on the content, and that we needed to get the best presenters on the topics. With Ran’s help we got a quick list of the top speakers in Israel. To give the event more of a global perspective it was also important for us to bring internationally renowned speakers. This is an area where we faced lots of difficulties, and still thinks that we have lots of lessons to learn in this regard, for the next event. It was only until I met Ben Kepes during HP Discover event in Frankfurt that I felt that we found the right speaker in this category. Luckily enough, Ben has some Jewish and Israeli roots, so convincing him to come wasn't as difficult as I thought.
Free or paid?
We were also debating whether the event should be kept free or paid - a paid event would have helped us to funds lots of the costs involved in bringing speakers, setting up venues, lunch and more, and would have contributed immensely to doing so without the pressure on the content that you often comes with sponsorship. On the other hand, we knew that many of the people involved in DevOps are individuals who wouldn't be able to come if this would have been a paid event. This led us to keep the event free for everyone but we knew that we’d have to maintain a tight budget in order not to be too dependent on sponsorships. This is where the IGT has been very helpful with getting Microsoft onboard. Microsoft, and specifically Noga Tal, were extremely generous and offered their venue, as well as covering all of the food & refreshment costs for the event. In this way, we were able to move most of the budgetary pressure out of the way and focus on the content. This helped us focus first on setting up the right content for the event, and only once the majority of this bulk was completed, we brought the other sponsors onboard. We also kept a tight editorial review led by Uri an Ran who made sure that the content was aligned with the purpose and vision.
Luckily today we face quite the opposite challenge than when we started.
Our challenge today is not whether or not there would be enough people interested in DevOps went but whether we will actually have enough space for everyone, and the waiting list keeps growing.
How can you help?
We only just set up the platform, and it is now up to you to take advantage of it by participating, speaking and spreading the word.
There are few other who deserve special thanks for their help in setting up the event.
JFrog, Baruch and Shlomi - who shared their experience and lessons in setting similar events, and for being active participants in both speaking and sponsoring the event.
Ben Kepes who is making his way all the way from New Zealand to Israel to share his international perspective with our local crowd.
Microsoft – Who have been extremely supportive in offering the venue and large bulk of the sponsorship.
Speakers - A big thanks to all the speakers who agreed to present and take part in the event - without you there would be no event!
Sponsors – And of course a big thanks to all the sponsors, without you none of this would have been made possible: Battery Ventures, GigaSpaces Technologies, IGTCloud, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Wix (check out their job openings here), Wonga.com, and last but not least, Yahoo!.