Blog Post

Monitorama 2017: Fighting Fires and Enriching the Mind

Despite fighting actual fires and power outages Monitorama 2017 was a huge success. Here's my summary of the performance monitoring event.

This was my first time at Monitorama, which took place in Portland last week, and what an experience it was. I began my career in the monitoring space many years ago and after some time away, I have recently found myself back in the industry. Monitorama solidified precisely why I decided to return, and that is the foundation of storytelling in monitoring. I’ve always loved telling stories in any format from writing to photography to reciting original tales for my son at night. It’s not easy to get on stage in front of hundreds of people and share your stories, but many people did just that at the conference. Some were more seasoned speakers, while others were first-timers; regardless of experience, putting yourself out there in front of a group of strangers is not easy.

Below is a brief summary of the stories that were shared as they relate to the practice of performance monitoring.

Being on call

There’s no way around it—it sucks. It may be worse for some people than others, but nobody likes being on call and this is an issue that still plagues many companies. Some organizations have been able to successfully include developers in the on-call rotation, while others are still battling this.

Improving the observability of our systems

As expected at a monitoring-focused conference, there were many discussions about anomaly detection, root cause analysis, alerting, and whether monitoring even still made sense as a practice. There seems to be a shift away from the concept of simply monitoring towards the idea of observability (I’ll be covering more on what observability means in a future post).

Lessons learned from startups like Lyft and Slack, and enterprise organizations like Twitter and Capital One

While some companies have seemingly unlimited budgets and can buy all the tools and solutions they want, others are looking for ways to build their own and are forced by various limitations to make hard choices about what can and can’t be monitored.

Experiences of junior engineers and those with over a decade of experience

I loved the talks that shared information about the learning process. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you have been doing your job, you should always be learning. The information we absorb when just starting out can often help down the road when a similar incident is uncovered.

Without people willing to share their stories, these conferences wouldn’t exist and we wouldn’t be able to learn and grow as individuals and organizations. Despite having to literally fight power outage-causing fires in Portland, Monitorama 2017 was a huge success and offered invaluable lessons that will propel me further in this second phase of my performance monitoring career.

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