A Recap of DevOps Day Chicago 2023

By Observe Team ,August 22, 2023

Observe is a regular presence at DevOps Days, most recently we sent a squad of Observers to the ninth annual DevOps Day Chicago. So how’d it stack up to other events? Was it worth the trek from sunny San Mateo to the windy deep-dish capital of the world? Here’s a recap of DevOps Day Chicago 2023, and if you missed it, you can catch much of the content via the recorded live streams for Day 1 and Day 2.

The Content:

Naturally, we weren’t the only observability vendor in the house (there were five in total out of the 34 sponsors), and there were talks from both legacy and newer providers. The prominence of observability, in general, is great to see, and we noticed an uptick in interest from attendees compared to last year. OpenTelemetry and CI/CD were prominent topics along with the essential discussion of what is DevOps today and how it is continuing to evolve. 

DevOps Days Chicago 2023 speaker photo

Jessica Kerr’s talk, “Your Distributed System is Talking to You”, was a great primer on what things OpenTelemetry can teach you about your software, and how instrumentation can make your application a part of the team! Developer advocate Jeremy Tanner’s talk, “Some Assembly Required: Infrastructure Lessons From Lego, K’Nex & Mario Kart,” was a good reminder that not all of your cloud-native infrastructure will come with the instructions you need, and perseverance and troubleshooting will inevitably be required. 

Also, Eddie Knight shared best practices on planning for the development of secure software and shifting security left in his talk, “To the Left, to the Left: All Your Security Shifted to the Left,” something many orgs have not yet attempted or prioritized. Lastly, and perhaps the most memorable talk was from 11-year-old Sophia Stratton’s talk, “DevOps Is STILL Older Than Me And I Still Know More About It Than You” — the future is bright if 11-year-olds can explain DevOps and use observability software.

The Audience:

The turnout was better than expected for a more minor regional event. Our estimate from the field was 300-400 people, which is definitely trending upward from some of the other DevOps Day events that were held in 2022 as things opened up again. Attendance dipped on the second day as is typical of smaller events, but that left room for more extended conversations.

The turnout included a good mix of developers, SREs, and DevOps engineers. Whether it was more seasoned SREs looking to stay sharp, or recent grads looking to learn there was a heartening amount of interest in observability. We also got a great response from those that demoed some of our latest features (more to be revealed on those soon).

The Venue:

Our attendees unanimously agreed that the historic Willis Tower (one-time title holder of the world’s tallest building, formerly the Sears Tower) was an outstanding event space. Plus, our booth and raffle signs looked great with all that natural light. Ride-shares were a bit scarce during the event, but the hotel was within walking distance. The event’s food left something to be desired… However, great food was not far, and the team gives high marks to nearby Sunda Chicago if you’re in the mood for Asian fusion.

A Recap of DevOps Day Chicago 2023 observe booth


The Good: 

A great space with plenty of engineers keen to learn more about observability, and good content in talks covering key cloud-native technologies such as OpenTelemetry.

The not-so-good: 

The food (but hey that’s not why we go to these).

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