Talk Descriptions

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Technical Track 1

President Room


  • Lee Damon & Atom Powers
  • University of Washington

  • Æleen Frisch
  • Exponential Consulting

  • In the Ballroom

  • Brian K. Haney
  • Google Inc.

What does your team do? How does it benefit the rest of the organization? IT team leaders, have you ever been grilled with these questions? Come and learn how modeling your IT team as an independent small business helps prepare you for your next budget cycle.

  • Shawn Sterling
  • Consultant

In this talk I will be going over what FlameGraph is, and how to use it. I will be going over how FlameGraph can be used to help troubleshoot a wide variety of problems with specific examples of syntax for people who have never used the tool before.

  • On your own

  • Mandi Walls
  • Opscode

A walk through for improving overall operational effectiveness by building skills like software development lifecycle practices, testing, and repeatability. This talk will focus on skill development and building better products.

This session is designed to help junior and mid-level operations practitioners to develop their skills and become more effective in their jobs. Topics will focus on using open source tools to build more robust processes for building, deploying, and maintaining web infrastructures. We know that the day-to-day jobs of Operations folks is very busy, and it can be very time consuming to sift through all the awesome open source projects available that can help make our jobs easier. Many junior operations folks know there is probably a better way to do a given task, and we’d like to help give them some suggestions.

  • Paul Graydon
  • Consultant

Sysadmins are developers. Sysadmins are developers who have root access on servers. Part of the changes in the profession over the last decade involve managing more and more systems per sysadmin and often with increasing complexity in the interoperation between the systems. Tools like Chef and Puppet make lives easier by being enabling people to programatically describe the environments and increase automation, but gaps remain that get filled with fully customised scripts and in-house tools. Those scripts and tools are very frequently critical to the operation of the business.

Sysadmins expect developers to work to high standards. They expect that when a developer provides a new version of a program that it will do exactly what it’s supposed to do, and not break anything or introduce surprising behaviour. Those high standards we hold developers to, and get quite vocal about when they miss, apply to us and our scripts as well. As our scripts interact with more systems, the tolerance for mistakes decreases. Where before a small mistake might impact one server or service that you could log in to directly and fix, today’s scripts could knock out servers or services on a scale that makes that effectively impossible. A simple mistake in a script might see you accidentally spawning several thousand virtual servers instead of a hundred, or possibly worse wiping out entire clusters of virtual servers where you meant to affect only a couple. Almost every Sysadmin has at least one horror story involving “rm -rf” in a script. Imagine that occurring on numerous servers instead of one or two.

As we face the reality of being developers it’s important to also ask what we can learn from their best practices, and how we can apply it to ours. One of the key forms of quality control come from test suites which, provide ways to automatically verify the behaviour of various functions, classes and methods in a program. This also introduces a programming practice called Test Driven Development, where developers write test suites first, then write code targeted to make the tests pass. This requires thinking about not just the overall goal but stages along the way, before a single line of the code has even been written.

  • In the Ballroom

  • Adele Shakal
  • Metacloud, Inc

Some IT organizations have well-established project management cultures; other organizations are on the frontier, either without a project management culture or experiencing rapid change. The application of appropriate IT project management principles in such organizations can be challenging, but you will benefit from the experiences of a frontier project-herder, covering basic techniques to allow IT teams to be more efficient and effective, and tips for establishing and fostering project management culture within rapidly changing and growing organizations.

  • Chris “Ski” Kacoroski
  • Northshore School District

Server virtualization, a mature technology used in many companies, is just the tip of the virtualization iceberg. Over the next few years, storage, network, and client virtualization technologies will become common in companies. This talk will briefly discuss why server virtualization has taken over server rooms and discuss why you need to plan for the the next areas that will be virtualized such as storage, networks, and clients.

  • In the Ballroom

Technical Track 2

Regent Room

  • Tom Limoncelli
  • Stack Exchange

At Stack Exchange, we run lean and mean serving up Stack Overflow, Server Fault, and other great Q&A sites. In this session, I’ll describe the architecture of the Stack Exchange network and how we serve six million people a day and serve up over 22 million page views daily. I’ll point out how we make our infrastructure as resilient and efficient as possible despite running on a limited amount of physical hardware. I’ll also describe why Windows Server, .NET, and SQL Server make sense for us.

  • Jess Males
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Herein we delve into the many ways to use the openssh client to achieve remote access, whether that’s one-off commands, x-forwarding, port forwarding, or even unix input redirection. SSH is an everyday tool for sysadmins, but rarely is it presented or learned exhaustively. This presentation seeks to demonstrate the wide utility and many features of the tool, opening up new options for day-to-day activities.

  • On your own

  • Owen DeLong
  • HEnet

Everyday uses of IPv6 are, in fact starting to become more common (as well as some robot examples).

  • Brian K. Haney
  • Google Inc.

Google SREs (system reliability engineers) spend almost 90% of their time handling or anticipating failure1. Managing failure is at the core of keeping Google services as reliable as they are. In this talk, we will explore some of the principles Google employs to make services reliable and how you might use them in your work. Everything fails. With a little planning, you can fail well.

  • In the Ballroom

  • William Van Hevelingen – Portland State University
  • Spencer Krum – UTI Worldwide

System administrators and devops engineers today are writing, sharing, and contributing back to more code than ever before. This has given rise to a new class of Open Source project: the open source microproject. Microprojects are small, specialized pieces of code (often a single script or collection of scripts) that solve a specific problem. Puppet modules, small ruby gems or python programs, anything written in perl, and plugins for just about anything are also in this class of software.

In the past, these tools were available by trawling through mailing lists for either the script itself or a link to the public ftp of the author. Today, these projects are receiving much better stewardship through freely available open source tools. This talk will describe how to publish your small internal tool or plugin as an opensource microproject, how to set up the free tooling around it to make it easy to use and contribute back to for others, and how to ensure good stewardship of your project in the future after you have given up the reins.

  • John McGlinn
  • Everett Public Schools

Tips for building a datacenter that can keep up with the next 10 years of your operation and stands a chance of surviving 10 more. Topics covered will include structured cable within the server room, power distribution, power protection, and cooling. Information is based on real world experience working in shared datacenter space and enterprise server rooms from 150 sq. ft. to 1200 sq. ft. with 5kw-100kw of capacity. Target audience is responsible for maintaining spaces in the 500~5000 sq. ft. size.

  • Chris ‘Mac’ McEniry
  • Sony Network Entertainment

Over the last 50 years, manufacturing delivery has seen a movement providing gains in productivity and value analysis with the development of management techniques now known as Lean Manufacturing. Recently, there has been a rise in comparisons of IT service delivery with manufacturing delivery, with the hope to bring the practical known management techniques from Lean Manufacturing to the IT service delivery realm.

This talk focuses on one particular Lean concept: Value Stream Mapping. It provides the motivation, goals, and some unexpected surprises of using mapping, and provides practical examples of how to perform mapping with the aid of the software tool Kuihao.

  • In the Ballroom

Conference Venue

Hotel Deca
4507 Brooklyn Avenue NE
Seattle, WA, 98105
Phone: 1(800) 899-0251

Dates and Deadlines

9 Dec 2013 ­ - Proposals Due
20 Dec 2013 ­- Notifications
1 Jan 2014 - Advertising Deadline
17 Feb 2014 - Early Bird Deadline
7-­8 Mar 2014 - Cascadia IT14