LISA14 Co-Located Events

When you think about the LISA14 program, what are the first things that come to your mind? Probably the talks and the training, since those are the meat of most conference programs. But LISA also offers something many other conferences don’t: co-located events. They’re like a surprise bonus conference on top of all the great content that’s part of LISA proper. This year there are four different co-located events that will enhance your LISA experience.

Starting off on November 10th we have the USENIX Release Engineering Summit West (URES ‘14 West if that’s too much of a mouthful). Release engineering may not be as popular as straight-up software engineering - there are not too many people demanding “RE Rockstars” out there - but it’s a key component of software development that shouldn’t be overlooked. Dinah McNutt, the program chair for both this and the first URES held this June in Philadelphia, saw that the world was missing a conference where release engineers could meet and attend technical talks in their field. She envisioned USENIX filling this role the same way it did for system administration, and the first URES was so well-received that it’s now making its way to the west coast. The full-day program will talk about current challenges and best practices from experts in the field. Want to talk about the difficulties of packaging systems (still not a solved problem)? Ryan McKern from Puppet Labs has a talk for you. Christian Legnitto from Facebook will be discussing the mobile side of things, and if you’re wondering what all the fuss about Docker is about, wait until the end of the day to hear it from Google’s Chris Crall. Find registration information here and hurry, because early bird pricing ends on October 20th.

Also on the 10th is the full-day CentOS Dojo Seattle. Run by Jim Perrin of the CentOS Project, this free event is packed full of useful information. CentOS Dojos often feature local speakers and tutors from the community talking about system administration, best practices, and emerging technologies. If you’ve got stories to share about working with CentOS, come by on Monday.

If educating and developing the next generation of system administrators is more your style, November 11th is the Summit for Educators in System Administration (SESA ‘14). This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart - we’ve probably all felt the pain of trying to hire more sysadmins and wishing there were more people interested in the field. And who’s going to keep the systems in line when our neckbeards (real or metaphorical) are too old? I got a chance to chat briefly with Kyrre Begnum and Charles Border, the SESA ‘14 chairs, who are even more excited about the subject than I am. They believe anyone who cares about how the next generation of system administrators is educated should make a point to attend, as this is the only place where industry experts and educators come together to discuss this. Because the field is moving so fast, it’s important for educators, practitioners, and industry discuss  things like emerging topics, skill assessments, what should be taught and expectations for new graduates. SESA will include  all of this and more. The program includes a session on developing sysadmin-related course material from Charles Border,  and another from Charlie Wiseman, on building courses and curriculum at universities and colleges. Later in the afternoon, Eric Sorbo discusses how to create effective technical training; after all, it’s one thing to read technical skills in a book, and another to learn them effectively enough to put really them to use. This information-packed day will also include talks about different lab environments and how to use various technologies such as OpenStack to improve our educational platforms. And this won’t be an event that’s just non-stop with talks - there’s plenty of time deliberately set aside for everyone to discuss what they’ve been hearing. Don’t miss the same Early Bird registration deadline for this either!

For those interested in configuration management, Puppet Camp Seattle is also on November 11th. Anyone with bad memories of navigating mazes of twisty little shell scripts to manage their servers will learn  about the benefits that Puppet can bring. While people with any level of knowledge are welcome to attend, most of the talks are aimed at beginners -- so if you’ve never used Puppet before but always wanted to try (or at least been a little curious), this event is just for you. Even better, Puppet Camp Seattle is free for LISA14 attendees, and if you register for both you can get a discount on your LISA registration. If you aren’t attending LISA, this full day can be yours for only $20. With talks about managing and organizing your Puppet codebase, troubleshooting, an awesome demo, and even combining Puppet with the magic of Docker, this is a day you won’t want to miss.

Rounding out the co-located events is LISA Data Storage Day on November 12th. This event focuses  on current and upcoming trends in data storage. If you’ve felt that other conference talks on storage don’t go into enough detail, or focus too much on the business side of things, this day with be right up your alley. The talks are aimed at people with hands-on technical knowledge such as system administrators, storage admins, or data center managers. The program consists of three sessions throughout the day, covering the recent evolution of storage networking, practical advice for implementing SSD storage, and the principles of object-based storage. You can register for free for this along with your LISA registration (and get a discount if you do), or if you can’t get away from the office that long, a separate registration form for the Data Storage Day and Expo is here.

So if all the talks, tutorials, and training sessions at LISA14 aren’t enough for you, be sure to check out all the great co-located events this year has to offer. With such a wide variety of topics, there’s something valuable for just about everyone. And don’t procrastinate too much - early bird discounts fly away October 20th!