Configuration management and waffles in Ghent

Configuration Management Camp takes place right after FOSDEM conference in beautiful city of Ghent, Belgium. It brings together technologists interested in Open Source Infrastructure automation and related topics. This was sixth year for conference and took place from February 4th to 6th with the two day main event and Fringe day where different communities have their own dedicated schedule. The most popular technologies discussed were Ansible, Docker and Kubernetes, with main lecture hall devoted for process and culture related topics. This year from Accenture Latvia it was Liene Jansone, Kaspars Bulindzs and Aleksandrs Enins attending this event.

It started with breakfast next to sponsor stands in the halls of University College of Ghent. A lot of coffee, bakery goods and stickers. The conference started with a bang with the very first talk by Charity Majors (co-founder and engineer at immediately taking our full attention by relevance and relatability. It spoke about growing complexity of infrastructures and processes that can`t be fully comprehended anymore. Distributed systems, microservices, containers and so much more. Modern infrastructure is becoming even more dynamic and chaotic, teams have to constantly change tools and processes to keep up with modern requirements. The lifecycle of product is becoming more and more chaotic and it’s not possible to test and foresee everything, so the significance of observability, debugging methods and instinctive knowledge of production systems only grows. Maybe next time when time is spent analyzing some freak outage and making product bulletproof against it, it would be more efficient to learn and experiment in production environments.


Charity Majors about road to production


Day continued with a lot of presentations about various topics, with main tracks being Ansible, mgmt, Foreman, Puppet and Rudder. One of the first talks was about mgmtconfig tool which at the moment is in early stages of development, but looks to be a powerful configuration management tool. Definitively will have to try it out myself some time. Another great lecture was “DevOps vs SRE – competing standards or friends” where Seth Vargo talked about history of Site Reliability Engineering in Google, and the differences and similarities between SRE and DevOps. The final though being that SRE implements DevOps, but it’s not DevOps and not trying to be. After few more lectures day ended with social event at The Zone where all the attendees got the change to get to know each other outside of IT related topics.


Seth Vargo about key differences between DevOps and SRE


Second day started with a historic moment in history of configuration management. Steve Traugott, owner at at TerraLuna Ventures and CD International Technology Inc., author of “Bootstrapping an Infrastructure” and several other significant papers, gave first talk since 2003. In “100 years of infrastructure: A future history” he compared the history of configuration management and development of his own career since 1980ies. It ended with few predictions regarding configuration management community, like distributed clouds and javascript still being deployed by the end of century. Now I have few papers to read and a talk to rewatch.


Steve Traugott about how important is to understand history


Day continued with talks about topics like infrastructure as code, observability, stateful infrastructures and a lot more. The main were Ansible, Puppet, Salt, Katello and DevOps. As well as tools like Salt, Packer, InSpec and others. Just before lunch there were Ignites talks. Couple of interesting ideas were shared in these 5-minute presentations. Emil Stenqvist talked about a tool which helps to find causes of issues more efficiently – by searching differences in the-last-time-it-worked logs vs now-that-we-have-this-issue logs. Also, Bram Vogelaar did an entertaining Ignite talk on how to over-engineer a simple static html page.

Ignite Talks –

Another interesting talk was “The Unexpected (Infrastructure Management) Journey” by Mihaela Drumeva. With software development background she started her first job as operations engineer only 18 months ago. In talk she shares her transition experience into more ops role and being part of DevOps team. Some of the lessons about project planning: using the right tools for the job, involving the right people, collaborate, and few others. Having just recently started work in DevOps and IT in general, it felt very relatable. I expect it might be relatable to everyone, regardless of speciality or experience level.


Mihaela Drumeva about being part of DevOps team


Third day was great opportunity to get your hands dirty in hackathons, learn-and-do-atons and workshops for every taste. During conference the biggest topics discussed besides infrastructure itself were observability, DevOps and logging. The most discussed tools and technologies were Ansible, YAML, Puppet and Salt. Overall the conference was great experience with fantastic opportunity to feel as part of configuration management community. If there is one thing I will take away from this fantastic event, is quet from talk by Charity Majors:

“What got you here won`t get you there”.


Liene Jansone, Kaspars Bulindzs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *