Highlights from Configuration Management Camp & AnsibleFest London

As a Developer Advocate for Elasticsearch, I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to travel the world and speak with members of the Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana communities. And whether I'm on the road or talking to folks in my hometown, the versatility of the ELK stack means that I get to see and hear about the myriad ways people are putting it to work.

One of the synergies I consistently see lies with the ELK stack and DevOps-practicing organizations. While I'm a firm believer in the notion that DevOps is not “achieved" simply by adopting a particular set of tools, and instead is rooted deeply in organizational culture — I do think that the ELK stack, in part or in whole, enables IT departments to deliver increasing value to their organizations. Enabling the ability to explore and correlate data, whether you're in marketing or keeping the website up and running, drives the continuous improvement that is embraced by innovative organizations.

More importantly, I often hear that the adoption of the ELK stack is occurring on both the Dev and the Ops sides of organizations — often with Elasticsearch and Kibana for developers, and Logstash for operations teams — and that the shared love is a common ground that brings people together. Our stack helps initiate a crucial part of the DevOps journey: having conversations.

My latest journey was one that had me off to Europe for a handful of events, including Configuration Management Camp and AnsibleFest London, both events that are largely targeted at folks on the Ops side of the house, but cater to the developer audience as well.

Config Management Camp

This was my second year attending this event, which is held right after FOSDEM in Ghent, a lovely city 30 minutes train ride from Brussels. Despite the name, the audience and speakers for this event are definitely interested in the bigger picture of the tech world, and this theme came out often as speakers presented on several topics “beyond" configuration management.

The event was divided between a main track, which included keynote speakers each day, and separate tracks dedicated to various project communities, including Ansible, Chef, Puppet, and SaltStack. I was delighted to see Jez Humble keynote, as a talk he gave several years ago became my “a-ha!" moment in understanding DevOps. Closing out the event was James Turnbull, the VP of Engineering at Kickstarter, who gave a talk about the opportunity for configuration management to improve monitoring. Best of all, when asked about his recommendations for a monitoring tool, James said – you guessed it – the ELK stack was one of his key recommended pieces to the puzzle.


Two days and one pleasant train ride later, I was in London for AnsibleFest, where Elasticsearch was a sponsor. AnsibleFest is largely focused on users of Ansible sharing their advice, stories, and successes, with just the right blend of technical content and inspirational “big picture" coming through.Having attended an Ansible meetup in the past, where I met numerous folks who also used the ELK stack, I suspected that there would be a similar alignment at this event in London. The steady stream of people coming to our table confirmed that I was correct. The discussions often touched on the “bringing people together" theme; both Ansible and the ELK stack were useful to both developers and operators — and more pertinently, both were simple enough to learn and use, enabling users to start getting results quickly. Not surprisingly, people like to just get things done, and I'm glad to see that we're helping to make that happen.

And if that wasn't enough to put a smile on my face (though it was!) — I was delighted to see Elasticsearch and the ELK stack mentioned in a number of presentations at the event. Seeing presenters from companies like Rackspace mentioning the ELK stack as part of their toolchain, and BigStep talking about how Ansible automates the deployment of their Elasticsearch application, certainly validated for me that the ELK stack communities are continuing to make software that people love. And that, my friends, makes me love my job a bit more every day.

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