What We Learned At The ScaleConf 2017 Scalability Summit

We had a great time in Medellin, sponsoring ScaleConf 2017. The pioneering tech conference on Scalability, DevOps and Modern Software tools finished on Saturday. We’ve put together our highlights from the events including the slides and quotes from some of our favorite talks.

We’re big fans of this event for a few reasons. Firstly, a large percentage of our tech talent are from Latin America so it’s a perfect opportunity for us to support the local development community. We also happen to share many of the same goals as ScaleConf: supporting an inclusive and diverse tech community and encouraging the sharing of knowledge. They certainly walk the talk: with 40% of the talks given by women and 30% given by local Colombians!

ScaleConf is fairly new to the conference scene, but they definitely delivered. Bringing in some known brand names such as Hashicorp (Vagrant), Etsy, Twilio, Datadog, Travis CI and Auth0.

Our man on the ground was Colombia native and Scalable Path Tech Lead, Carlos Mafla, who manned the booth, and attended many of the talks. You can check his thoughts on the day over at @scalablepath.

DEVOPS FOR STARTUPS

Armon Dadgar (Hashincorp)

This talk was a clear conference favorite. It focused on what DevOps is and how it applies to startups.

Scale Conf Tweet

Takeways

  • We need to learn from failure and embrace it
  • Avoid building yourself at all costs to scale more effectively
  • Outsource Logging (Cloud)
  • Outsource Metrics (Newrelic, DataDog)
  • Outsource Exception tracking (Sentry)
  • Outsource Alerting (PagerDuty)
  • Choose metrics that everybody understands
  • Choose metrics that are granular, tagged and filterable
  • Keep performance information to see long term patterns

Scale Conf Tweet

Get the full picture by viewing the presentation.

DATA-DRIVEN POSTMORTEMS

Jason Yee (Datadog)

DevOps has allowed us to scale larger and faster. But along with scale comes increased complexity and risk of failure. Jason Yee tackled the question of how to detect failure, respond to it, resolve it and ultimately learn from it.

Takeways

  • Always perform a postmortem on your failure to discover what happened.
  • Treat it like a police investigation, who was involved? what did they see? Who were the witnesses (customers) how did they notice the outage?
  • Pictures are worth a thousand words so capture images, metrics, graphs from dashboards.
  • Use images (graphs for example) to help everyone involved to see what was happening (for example: spikes)
  • Gather information quickly after the incident. Human memory decreases sharply after the first 20 minutes of an event. Be careful of false memories, people remember things that actually didn’t happen
  • Use slack with hashtags for later review
  • Automated alerts are important no one will be staring at a monitoring dashboard
  • Write a Recap

Get the full picture by viewing the presentation or find out more about conducting (digital) postmortems:

ScaleConf Colombia 2017 Sponsored by Scalable Path

ScaleConf Colombia 2017 Sponsored by Scalable Path

SCHEDULERS

By Carlos Leon (Container Solutions)

During this informative talk, Carlos Leon put into practice the basic theory of Terraform and how to create multiple environments in Google Cloud.

Takeways

  • Developing software using the Waterfall methodology is obsolete
  • The market forces us to use other methodologies like Agile
  • The deployment process in large infrastructures can be complex
  • Instead of having a static resources we should have a cluster of “servers” with dynamic resources ready to be assigned any role
  • Schedulers are the future

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ScaleConf Colombia 2017 Sponsored by Scalable Path

Get the full picture by viewing the presentation.

MASTERY AT SCALE

By Carmen Andoh (Travis CI)

Carmen approached the hot topic of how we can master a profession within a rapidly-changing and ever-moving industry. It was broken down into the fundamental truths of mastery, mastery of self, mastery within organizations and mastery within the software and engineering space.

ScaleConf Colombia 2017 Sponsored by Scalable Path

Takeways

  • Mastering a skill requires a lot of practice
  • Mistakes are OK. In practice mode.
  • Failure is a must, there is no mastery without failure

ScaleConf Colombia 2017 Sponsored by Scalable Path

Get the full picture by viewing the presentation.

CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT

By Sally Lehman (AUTH0)

ScaleConf Colombia 2017 Sponsored by Scalable Path

It is often a luxury to be able to start configuration management from scratch. Much more common is the need to turn existing production environments, as Sally names them, from ‘pets to ‘cattle’.

  • Pets: Servers or server pairs that are treated as indispensable or unique systems that can never be down. Typically they are manually built, managed, and “hand fed”.
  • Cattle: Arrays of more than two servers, that are built using automated tools, and are designed for failure, where no one, two, or even three servers are irreplaceable.

ScaleConf Colombia 2017 Sponsored by Scalable Path

Learn more about this topic by checking out these additional resources:

By Toria Gibbs (ETSY)

If you have every used Etsy, you probably noticed how spot on their search engine feature is. This talk by Toria gave us an some great lessons on why and how to build a powerful search feature.

Takeways

  • Search engines should improve performance
  • Search engines should improve quality of results (relevance, diversity, quality)
  • Customize the solution (your users, your data, your algorithms)

ScaleConf Colombia 2017 Sponsored by Scalable Path

Get the full picture by viewing the presentation.

EFFECTIVE DEVOPS

By Katherine Daniels (ETSY)

Katherine discussed the principles of DevOps and how the four pillars of effective DevOps can be used throughout an organization.

ScaleConf Colombia 2017 Sponsored by Scalable Path

Takeways

The four pillars of effective DevOps are:

  • Collaboration
  • Affinity
  • Tools
  • Scaling

Get the full picture by viewing the presentation or find out more about effective DevOps collaboration here.

See you next year at ScaleConf Colombia 2018!