DevOps Days Chicago Recap

DevOps Days Chicago returned to action this September 21st and 22nd, and Mondoo was there to celebrate as a sponsor.

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The conference took a hiatus in 2021 due to the pandemic and was entirely virtual in 2020, making this the first time in 2 years that the Chicago DevOps community had the opportunity to come together.

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Thankfully things were back in full force! The UIC Forum was packed with attendees ready for a deep dive into the latest DevOps practices. While it’s only been two years since the last in-person conference, a lot has changed in our industry, and that meant a very different focus this year.

This year's conference had a particular focus on security and cloud-native practices such as microservices, containers, and serverless. Ricardo Green kicked off day one with a talk on how officiating football games prepared him for DevSecOps. You may be thinking those are entirely unrelated topics (I certainly did) but he managed to link the different roles of officials on the field to roles in DevSecOps teams.

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Source @devopsdaysChi on Twitter

From this very first talk onwards, security came up in nearly every presentation. Regardless of how folks feel about the term DevSecOps, it’s clear that development and operations teams are taking an increasingly large interest in the security of their businesses.

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Aakash Shah kicked security into high gear the first day with a presentation about integrating security into the development process. I particularly enjoyed hearing him mention moving from gates to guardrails in security. This is an approach we build into everything we do at Mondoo, so that Security and Ops teams can help developers do the right things without the friction of old-school check sheets.

Monitor your infrastructure for security misconfigurations and maps those checks automatically to top compliance frameworks.

On day two, Daniel Kim from New Relic showed how his team had introduced security into their development pipelines so their 1500+ engineers could take on the responsibility of security. Not only did this allow them to find issues faster, but it also reduced blockers for production deployments. He showed how they reduced friction by making security part of the processes that developers already take part in.

If a single track of great security and operations talks wasn’t quite your style, there was also perhaps one of the best parts of every DevOpsDays conference: open spaces. The process is as chaotic as ever: Attendees propose talks, frantically organize, and vote for talks using stickies.

The shouting attempts from the crowd to rearrange the schedule for perfect attendance has always been my favorite experience. Beyond the initial proposal process, the open spaces often are a great way for teams to share their experiences and newcomers to learn techniques from the more experienced.

This year I attended great talks on AWS, Kubernetes, and overall security/compliance. The security talk really showed off the beauty of open spaces at DevOpsDays with operations teams from two mortal enemy companies sharing techniques for improving the security of their infrastructure. The friend-DA (think NDA) really shines in open spaces and everyone shares the highs and lows of their teams and experiences.

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Overall DevOpsDays Chicago was a fantastic experience. Having been to several different DevOpsDays, I can say this was one of the best from the selection of talks, to the hallways/vendor booth chats, to the deep-dish pizza and hot dogs. Thanks for everything Chicago. We look forward to seeing you next year.

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is a Product Manager at Mondoo. He’s been working in web operations and software development roles since 2007 and port scanning class As since 1994. He downloaded his first Linux distro on a 14.4 modem. Tim most recently held positions at Limelight Networks, Cozy Co, and Chef Software.

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