saltconf 2014



I went to SaltCont2014 last week, and not only did I have a blast, it was one of the best and well organized conferences I’ve attended.

I also was fortunate enough to be a speaker there, and I took the pre-conference training as well. All in all, it was very productive.

Not because of my talk, or because of the training. It was the people I met and talked it that was the most important.

Let’s not jump ahead though, here are my intentions.

First, to give an overview of the conference and my take away.

Secondly, I’ll write up a completely separate post that will be complementary to the talk I gave at Salt Conf (Unified Infrastructure Management). I felt that I was a little too nervous during my talk. I may have rambled a bit and did not serve Bay Photo or even SaltStack well enough.

Back to the conference…

SaltCont 2014 was SaltStack’s first conference, and while I was in the class that Thomas Hatch taught, he had made a comment about how anxious he was about his very first conference.

The entire crew of SaltStack should be very proud, and here are a few reasons why:

Vendor Presense

Most conferences I’ve been too had vendors, and you knew the where there. You couldn’t go 10 feet without some sales rep shoving swag in your face. I’ve even see Oracle sales reps attent a talk about how someone switched away from Oracle to PostgreSQL, and they actually confronted the speaker about it.

SaltConf was not like that at all. The kick off meetings had companies like VMWare, but it wasn’t a total sales job. I wasn’t even offered a pamphlet throughout the entire 4 days (which is great, I think I still have copies from the last conferene I went too)

Attendee Participation

The entire conference had a feel of being community driven, and in no way did the SaltStack folks try and steer it in any other way. They let things happen.

For instance, I was encouraged by one of the community members (Forrest Alvarez), to join the Sprint session. To be honest, I didn’t feel part of that team. I’m not a developer, and I don’t write python code (all that well at least).

Still, I went there, plopped myself in the corner and did my own thing.

After a few minutes, I heard Forrest talking with someone else about Apache versions in FreeBSD. That other person was the FreeBSD port maintainer for salt, Christer Edwards. So, I pipped up, and provided some more information on where the config files are installed. Around that time, Thomas Hatch came up to me and chatted with me. He was incredibly nice, and he actually pointed out Christer to me and suggested I go talk with him.

So I did, and then I got into a few things that I was looking for in Salt.

Next thing you know, I’m forking formula’s and contributing to the project. How cool is that?

Fantastic Presentations

I’ll be honest, my presentation was probably the worst out of the bunch. I’m hyper-critical of myself, and I’m fully aware of it.

That still does not change the fact that I was terrible. I was nervous, more nervous than I had ever been which was strange as I used to be comfortable speaking in front of people.

Everyone else that I saw, man, they were good. I picked up so many ideas and took enough notes that I could keep myself busy with our Salt environment for years to come.

Fun Stuff

The break out sessions, the food, after parties, were incredible. The game night was put together very well, having a PS3 and an Atari emulator in the hallway was a lot of fun.

Everything was very tasteful and thoughtful.

SaltStack Certified Engineer Exam (SSCE)

I had no idea it would be offered to everyone, I thought it was just offered to those who have already completed the week training course. So, I took a stab at it just to see where I fall.

I got a 71, and passing is 80. That is okay, I learned a lot about the internals of Salt this week, more than I had been exposed to in the past.

As much as it pains my ego, I try to fail more and often. Normally, I would have skipped the exam to be honest. I hate feeling of rejection, so sometimes I’d rather not try at all than fail.

That is a terrible way to approach life :) You never really learn until you fail at something.

They did annouce the first round of people that did pass, and that was really motivating to see. It was a tough and fair test, so I applaud those that passed.

Final thoughts

I would love to go again. I’m not sure my work would pay for me to go without being a speaker, so I’ll do a better job next time if they’ll have me back.

Some of the questions I got from the audience had little to do with Windows, but FreeBSD. Perhaps next time, I’ll focus more on Salt and FreeBSD, package management.

Something else I’m considering is speaking more at the local BSD User Group. Perhaps I was just rusty after not speaking publicly for a few years, so I’ll work on that.