I submitted a proposal last night (a few hours under the wire) for the USENIX Release Engineering Summit 2015, coming up November 13 in DC as part of the LISA conference. This prompted me to finally write up my experience from last summer at USENIX Federated Conferences Week (“Cloud, Storage, Sysadmin, and More”). This was held in June 2014 in Philadelphia. I went to three events at two days of it:
- USENIX Configuration Management Summit ‘ 14: This summit had about 30 people attending. From what I could tell, all other presenters and attendees were private industry (I’m a federal contractor), male, and not from my part of the country. Apart from feeling a little weird about that, I encountered no issues. Lunch was a lot of fun, chatting at my table with other practicioners. Several of the talks were on containers, and in fact for 2015 they’ve dropped the Configuration Management summit and changed over to a Container Management summit. We deploy to JBoss and Tomcat containers, but that’s not the same. I think you have to be pretty deeply into a technical topic already to soak up much from a presentation on it that can be applied directly to work, but I found the other talks interesting enough to ask a question or two. I was also interested just to see what their focus was, and what other folks wanted to ask about. My talk went pretty well. I’d stayed up a bit the night fine-tuning the material (again!), and I was a bit nervous, despite having given professional presentations at Penguicon — my peers there were mostly at Detroit-area car/GPS manufacturers, and this conference had more and higher-up folks in my profession. Software Configuration Management at National Cancer Institute was well-received, though, and I got a number of questions afterward, which encourages me to think it kept folks’ interest. That was the last talk of the day, so I went on to …
- Poster Session and Reception: USENIX has an academic angle, though our summits weren’t so much in that direction, and I was interested to wander around and look and talk with presenters on topics ranging along the lines of performance, security, analytics, etc. The presenters mostly represented impressive places. Having been a poster presenter myself at a conference when I was with Applied Biosystems, though, I wasn’t intimidated because most presenters don’t expect the folks coming up to know as much about their topic as they do, and don’t mind simple introductory questions, though I prefer to read the posters first. There were also some folks attending for the good reception food and wine, and I chatted with some of them as well. It was a nice ending to the day.
- USENIX Release Engineering Summit ’14: This summit had about 30 – 35 attending, with a few women, but still no other federally-oriented folks I recall. I wonder if 18F or USDS will show up this year? Anyway, the topics were more varied this day, though one was mostly a repeat of something of the speaker’s up on Youtube already. One tweet of mine from back then: “I love Daniel Cordes’ RelEng presentation that shows relevant artwork of Plato’s Cave Allegory, Socrates’ death scene, and Moses. #fcw14” Lunch was also fun this day, and at the end of the day I co-paneled on The Future of Release Engineering with Dinah McNutt (Google), Chuck Rossi (Facebook), and John O’Duinn (Hortonworks). I misremembered who had said what on a previous presentation that day, a bit unfortunate, but it mostly went well, my co-panelists and I each talked some, and the audience had some good questions.
- to Chris St. Pierre, the chair of UCMS ’14 and its reviewers who accepted my proposal and welcomed my participation
- to Dinah McNutt, the chair of URES ’14 who invited me onto their panel
- to Google and VMWare, who sponsored funds I applied for and was awarded, which encouraged me to stay at the conference hotel to see more of the conference and folks attending, instead of driving from a further cheaper location