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September 27, 2018

DevOps Enterprise Summit: Las Vegas 2018 — A Sneak Peek Of How We Put It Together

By Gene Kim
gene sneak peek does18 las vegas

Wow! It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago, we were wrapping up two days of immersive learning at the DevOps Enterprise Summit London event — and now we are getting ready for our biggest DevOps Enterprise event ever — Las Vegas 2018!

In this post, I describe:

  • The programming objectives for the 2018 DevOps Enterprise Las Vegas event
  • What our most important focus areas are
  • How it differs from previous years
  • Why certain elements remain the same

I shared this with our programming committee early in our planning process, so that we could scrutinize and critique it — as someone once famously noted, “to be able to think clearly, one usually needs to first write it clearly.”

Our first objective is to have the 2018 Las Vegas event be even better than our 2018 London event, which in turn, I believe, was even better than our 2017 San Francisco event, which was the better than all of our previous events. Aiming to have the next conference to be better than the last is challenging, especially when you think that your last event was the best yet — but without a doubt, stating this as an explicit objectives makes it impossible just to coast.

But, the good news is, there are plenty of challenges this community faces, and I have confidence that by helping the community overcome those challenges, the result is a better conference. And I think you’re going to love what we have in store for you!

(And with that in mind, I hope that when you see this year’s conference speaker lineup, you’ll agree that this will be the best DevOps Enterprise Summit yet — if you haven’t registered yet, please use the special code below to save $300 off your registration price!)

Here are the other programming objectives for 2018, created with the fantastic Programming Committee.

Our Programming Objectives:

  1. Get great experience reports, and repeat experience reports
  2. Elevate focus on Spanning Business/Technology Divide
  3. Elevate focus on Next Generation Ops and Infrastructure
  4. Ensure conference structure helps attendees achieve their goals
  5. Get best subject matter experts from the domains we need

1. Great Experience Reports (And Repeat Experience Reports)

For the past four years, one of the hallmarks of DevOps Enterprise Summit is that we have many repeat speakers presenting their ongoing DevOps transformation experience reports.

This has been an awesome way to document their journeys and progress over time – it is especially gratifying to see how their areas of responsibility keep growing.

Repeat experience reports make up 15% of our programming.

American Express

Chad Avery, Program Manager, DevOps
Aimee Cardwell, VP, Consumer Product Development


Ross Clanton, Executive Director, Technology Modernization

Hearst Business Media

Pauly Comtois, VP DevOps


Jim Grafmeyer, Director, IT Infrastructure
Jared Speno, Senior Technical Consultant

Jaguar Land Rover

Chris Hill, Head of Systems Engineering

DXC Technology

Olivier Jacques, Principal, DevOps Transformation
Joan Watson, Dir. DevSecOps


Bryan Finster, Staff Software Engineer
Dana Finster, Sr. Software Engineer

One potential danger of having repeat speakers is the self-reinforcing loop and creating an self-contained echo chamber, merely repeating what we like hearing. That’s why we continue to seek out new experience reports — new experience reports are 25% of our programming.

In these new experience reports, we actively seek the largest and most recognized firms across every industry vertical, to give DevOps Enterprise champions more case studies and empirical evidence to make their case internally, and overcome objections.

Over the years, we’ve had some of the world’s largest banks present, as well as large not-for-profits, government agencies, and military branches — organizations that are often viewed as risk-averse and conservative.

For these stories, we are interested in organizations at all stages of the journey. And these stories are a source of fantastic and serendipitous discoveries, as well.

I’m delighted that this year, we have new speakers from:

National Association of Insurance Commissioners

Dan Barker, Chief Architect


Ann Corrao, Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor and Walmart Labs

Scott Havens, Director of Software Engineering

US Patent & Trademark

Simmons Lough, IT Specialist

Delta Airlines

Keanen Wold, Manager, DevOps Transformation


?? Las Vegas: October 22-24, 2018

2. Spanning the Business and Technology Divide

Another goal is to help the community get business leadership onboard — and by that, I don’t mean business leadership silently tolerating DevOps. Instead, what we are looking for are enthusiastic and grateful business partners, who want to tell the world how all their goals, dreams and aspirations were finally achieved by working together with their technology counterpart.

In London 2018, we had some fantastic talks along these likes (from Nike, Capital One, and Verizon Enterprise).

In Las Vegas, we’ll be featuring even more talks like this, showing how technology leaders are partnering with not just business leaders, but also other areas of the business, such as product leadership, security/privacy, legal, project management, and so forth.

These unique types of experience reports will represent about 15% of our overall talks, and I’m super-excited about their stories — these are the most difficult talks to find, because they require a technology leader with a great working relationship their business counterpart, and that they’ve created visible successes.


Courtney Kissler, Vice President, Nike Digital Platform Engineering
Ann Bradley, Chief Privacy Officer and Global Counsel

Capital One

Aimee Bechtle, Senior Manager Advanced Engineering
Abbie Gray, Product Manager in Credit Card Channels Product & Platform


Levi Geinert, Director of Engineering
Lucas Rettig, Principal Product Owner
Dan Cundiff, Principal Engineer

Capital One

Topo Pal, Senior Director & Sr. Engineering Fellow
Jamie Specter, Counsel, IP & Technology Legal Group

The Walt Disney Company

Jason Cox, Director, Systems Engineering
Deepti Mutnuru, Senior Project Manager

Kaiser Permanente

Alice Raia, Vice President, Digital Presence Technologies
Le Quach, Director, Strategic Design & Implementation

3. Next Generation Ops and Infrastructure

I’ve written before about how this programming objective came from Jason Cox at Disney (one of our programming committee members), who said to me every year, “Great conference for Dev, but it wasn’t as great for Ops.”

In 2018, we finally did something about it — starting in London 2018, we reserved 25% of talks for next generation Ops and Infrastructure concerns, and created a separate subcommittee to focus on this area.

And wow, we were all very, very happy with the results — in fact, I think the elevation of this topic has fundamentally changed the feel of the conference (you can watch a full discussion about this track here>>>).

In this track, we really make an effort to help define and clarify what exactly the role of Ops leader is, all the technology and organizational changes there have been in how infrastructure is designed, delivered and operated.

This year we are dedicating about 25% of the programming to this topic, and we are preserving that proportion for the mainstage presentations, as well.

I love that these presentations are also a bit more technical, but there’s no doubt that it is extremely relevant for the technology leadership community. (After all, as Mark Schwartz famously observed, “last I heard, this is still a technical field.” Haha!)

Examples of talks in this track include:


Jeffrey Snover, Technical Fellow and Chief Architect for Azure Storage & Cloud Edge


John Rzeszotarski, SVP, Director of Continuous Delivery and Feedback


Cornelia Davis, Senior Director of Technology


Damon Edwards, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer

Stack Overflow

Tom Limoncelli, Renowned Author and Speaker, Former Sys Admin for Google, currently SRE Manager

Standard Chartered Bank

Shaun Norris, Global Head, Cloud Infrastructure Services

Charity Majors, former Production Engineering Manager for Facebook, currently CEO, Engineer and Co-founder

BONUS – if you haven’t seen the Next Gen Ops panel discussion from the June conference in London, it’s worth a watch here>>>.


?? Las Vegas: October 22-24, 2018

4. Subject Experts from Areas We Draw Upon

In our San Francisco 2017 conference, one of the most notable (and for me, memorable) moments was the Safety Culture and Lean Panel we had, featuring three luminaries in the field. Dr. Sidney Dekker and Dr. Richard Cook (Safety Culture) and Dr. Steven Spear (Lean) and I discussed the areas of mutual reinforcing principles from those two fields, and discussed how lessons learned from those domains could be applied to the DevOps Enterprise community.

This year, we are honored to have Dr. Christina Maslach speak on her lifetime of research on burnout. She is professor emerita of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and her area of research focus includes: burnout and job stress; and individuation and social influence, as well as the positive antithesis of burnout, work engagement, as a better framework for developing interventions.

My mentor, Dr. Steven Spear will be presenting, as well. He presented at DevOps Enterprise Summit in 2015, and was part of the panel I mentioned above. He is currently Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Dr. Spear is a Senior Fellow for the Institute of Healthcare Improvement, and was a four-time recipient of the Shingo Prize for Research Excellence. He is the author of “The High Velocity Edge”, and has extended his research beyond manufacturing to R&D, workplace safety, healthcare, etc.

(Stay tuned for some exciting news that we’ll be able to share about something else special we have planned!)

20% of our programming is dedicated to these types of talks —

Dr. Nicole Forsgren (Founder and CEO of DevOps Research and Assessment) will be presenting the 2018 Accelerate State of DevOps Findings, which was done with the help of Google Cloud.

Rosalind Radcliffe (Distinguished Engineer, Chief Architect for DevOps for z Systems IBM) will be presenting on her work elevating the state of the practice for the mainframe ecosystem.

And many more!

5. Networking and Community Activities

When I look at the DevOps Enterprise community, it is a community of networkers. I see lasting collaborations and friendships that have lasted for years and the mark of a phenomenal community is one that is actively helping one another.

With that desired outcome in mind, we have made some changes to our programming.

  • New – DevOps Confessions! This came about some advice from Dr. Richard Cook who made the observation that the stories presented on stage are the heroic triumph stories, but stories that come out over evening drinks are those about the struggles and failures and near-misses. To bridge that gap, we’re going to set aside 15 minutes every morning where I will read two anonymized stories of confessions from leaders in the DevOps community. Hear more about this project here>>>.

Furthermore, there will be an hour per day in the programming where there are no talks — instead, this is a time for networking and collaboration and information sharing, with various levels of structure.

(Our observation was that formats such as Lean Coffee were extremely popular, but because they were scheduled at the same time as talks, people went to the talks instead because of the “Fear of Missing Out.” Now there are no talks to compete with!)

  • Ask the Speakers! If you have questions for our speakers, we’re creating dedicated times for you to meet with them and ask the questions that will dig deeper into what your interests are. We’ll also open up a Slack channel for every attendee to use and submit questions directly to speakers and to other attendees.
  • Lean Coffee Sessions! We want to help attendees connect with and learn from their peers at the conference in another semi-structured format as well. We’re going to produce Lean Coffee sessions, led by Dominica DeGrandis, both days of the conference. This will be comprised of 10 tables big enough for 10 people to talk about similar interests that are relevant to the theme at the table. Hopefully, this provides another opportunity to learn a lot and make some valuable new connections.
  • Birds Of Feather Sessions! These are more like the DevOpsDays unconference sessions, with less structure than a Lean Coffee format, driven by specific topics that attendees want to discuss and learn about.

We also will have…

  • Slack Workspace! We will have our very own Slack workspace for the DevOps Enterprise Summit! You’ll be able to join the channel to take part in the conversation, as well as a “Who’s Hiring?” channel to learn about potential opportunities in the space. These channels will stay open after the conference ends to keep the dialogue rolling!
  • Lunch time! There will be a few different lunch options that attendees can take advantage of as well:
    • Eat lunch with a speaker will be a first come, first serve basis. During these sessions, you will have opportunities to sit down face-to-face with a speaker and again, dive deeper into the subject matter of their presentation and experiences in a more personal setting.
    • Have lunch with fellow attendees at high top tables around the buffet stations where there are pre-written note cards to serve as seed questions for discussion.
  • Industry party! Every good conference comes with a good party, and DOES18 Las Vegas will be no different! Thanks to our friends at Delphix, the industry party is happening on Monday evening following Day 1. We’ll have sponsor giveaways, food, drinks, and another great opportunity to continue conversations with fellow attendees and speakers. I’ve found this time proves to nurture some of the best networking and listening to some amazing stories from in the trenches!

This year at DOES18 Las Vegas, we’ll also be having Lightning Talks and the IT Revolution Author Book Signing! These will be on Day 2, following closing remarks. There will be refreshments and happy hour snacks as well!

  • Lightning Talks! Presented by our friends at Sonatype, these talks happen from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM in Chelsea. These are rapid fire, must-see presentations – just watch the Lightning Talks from 2017 to see what I mean. More information forthcoming about these talks soon and if you’re attending, be on the lookout for the call for presentations as well!
  • IT Revolution Author Book Signing! From 7:15 PM – 8:00 PM in the Chelsea Balcony. We are excited to debut the latest title from IT Revolution Press and author Dr. Mik Kersten, Project to Product at the IT Revolution book signing on Tuesday night! I believe this will be a very important book for our generation of technology leaders — the majority of economic value will be created when the largest brands across every industry vertical adopts the better ways of working pioneered by the FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google), of which the DevOps Enterprise community is leading the charge. Mik’s book describes how project management and other orthodoxies need to be replaced with product-oriented cultures and management paradigms.

As you can see, there’s a lot that is getting me excited for the conference this year! We hope we will see you at what is sure to be the best DevOps Enterprise Summit yet!

Register now (and book your room at the Cosmopolitan) to ensure your spot at DOES18 Las Vegas!


?? Las Vegas: October 22-24, 2018

- About The Authors
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Gene Kim

Award winning CTO, researcher, and author.

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