A comprehensive list of the top DevOps conferences in 2016
If you're an IT organization looking for DevOps expertise, you just can't buy a DevOps guide and follow a series of common, generic steps for its implementation. That's why attending DevOps conferences can be very valuable for CIOs, CTOs, IT chiefs, and development and ops managers who are trying to figure out the best way to introduce DevOps to their teams or just network with peers and experts.
Below we provide a comprehensive list of the top DevOps conferences and events that have proved useful to attendees in the past. These conferences have most often provided a mix of real-world case study testimonials, sessions by experts, hands-on workshops, and opportunities for ad hoc, informal conversations.
We have ranked them in four categories:
- Events we consider a must
- Others that are worth attending
- Events that, within their broader scope, have strong DevOps/IT ops tracks and content
- A final group of large, quasi-legendary conferences whose size and breadth make them interesting to DevOps and IT ops enthusiasts
DevOps matters more than ever
Interest in DevOps and IT Ops continues on the upswing, as businesses look for ways to automate, streamline, sharpen, and accelerate their software development and delivery processes. Most CxOs by now understand that it’s essential for businesses to be able to create new apps and enhance existing software quickly and continuously in order to satisfy customers’ expectations and compete effectively against rivals.
But DevOps isn’t a detailed, systematic, and codified process. It’s more of a philosophy that frequently requires an IT work culture shift, so the way it’s adopted varies widely. At these conferences, you'll meet some of the "philosophers" as well as the key practitioners, all working to create a unified and collaborative relationship between the developers and the operations teams.
Must attend DevOps conferences
This year's "must attend" list of DevOps conferences is based primarily on the high interest we have observed among attendees, growing year-on-year. A notable category in this grouping are conferences based on technologies that help DevOps teams automate their essential processes.
The interest in containers — and in Docker especially — has gone from 0 to 80 mph in less than two years, and this conference has become one of the hottest gatherings in the IT industry.
It’s a safe bet that Docker Inc. founder and CTO Solomon Hykes and CEO Ben Golub will play key roles at this year’s event, with one or both of them likely to deliver keynote addresses. There will be advanced technical talks, case studies, hands-on tutorials, and plenty of chances to network.
The organizers promised in a blog post to “offer Hands-On Labs on a variety of Docker topics for different technical levels and advanced technical deep dives curated by the Docker core team as part of the Black Belt Track.”
“I remember the first Docker meetup, which consisted of about five of us in the ‘jungle’ of the original dotCloud headquarters, back in February of 2013,” Mike Kavis, vice president and principal cloud architect at Cloud Technology Partners, wrote in the company’s blog. “Fast-forward to June 22–23, 2015, and Docker filled up the Grand Marquis in San Francisco and was streaming live to a rabid user base all over the world.
“DockerCon 2015 was an acknowledgment that containers have reached a critical mass, having quickly evolved from niche technology to industry standard,” Tony Bradley wrote in TechBeacon. John Wetherill also raved about the palpable enthusiasm at the 2015 conference, saying that the event “was one of the most exciting, energizing, invigorating, and exhausting conferences I've attended” and that the combination of attendees, sessions, and technology “created a fantastic atmosphere.”
Because the 2015 conference sold out its 2,000 seats, DockerCon 2016 is expected to draw 3,000 attendees. As the number of attendees grows, will the conference retain its allure?
Who should attend: Developers, DevOps enthusiasts, IT executives
Twitter: @velocityconf / @OReillyMedia / #velocityconf
Date: June 20-23 (Santa Clara, California); New York, New York — September 19-22;
Location: Santa Clara, CA; New York, NY; Beijing; Amsterdam
Cost: From $1095 to $2495 (price based on last year)
Called “a great show to learn about Web operations, performance, DevOps, and more,” O’Reilly’s Velocity conference showcases smart minds who are putting DevOps to work in a business-driven IT setting. Damon Edwards, founder and managing partner of DTO Solutions, described it in an interview as a “high quality web operations and web performance conference” that is “very operations centric.”
Mark Zeman, founder of SpeedCurve, a visualization and web performance company in New Zealand, blogged that Velocity was an early venue for DevOps, bringing developer and operations staffers together, and that at the Santa Clara conference in 2015 that confluence evolved further. “We witnessed an additional convergence of developers, ops, and designers. It’s exciting that Velocity is helping these siloed groups find ways to share with and learn from each other.”
If you go, you can expect to experience a technical, performance-minded, operations-centric conference on which developers, ops, and designers converge.
Who should attend: Developers, operations specialists, IT ops staff
DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES)
Sam Fell, whose company, Electric Cloud, co-produces the DevOps Enterprise Summit, called the conference in an interview the conference “for bringing lean, Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery practices into large organizations.”
In his review of the 2015 conference, Mirco Hering, APAC lead for DevOps and agile at Accenture, liked that the event focused more on the work culture challenges of adopting DevOps than on the technical issues. Most talks explored “what good looks like and what it takes to transform the organizational culture,” he wrote in his blog. “Looking forward to make the next steps together and share our stories again next year.”
Damon Edwards, founder and managing partner of DTO Solutions, who is on the conference’s content committee, described it in an interview as a “really a technical and organizational management conference for enterprises looking to transform how they deliver software and services.”
Attendees can expect to see speakers from many large companies — IT pros from Target, Bose, HP, and Disney have spoken at DOES in the past — as well as engage in ad hoc discussions and enjoy what some have described as a great community and learning environment.
Who should attend: Developers, operations specialists, CxOs, software architects, systems and network admins
The LISA conference positions itself as a vendor-neutral meeting place for the system administration community, strongly focused on training.
In 2013, David Nalley, a Citrix software manager and self-described “recovering sys admin,” highlighted the training component of LISA as being particularly strong in a conference that hits all the right notes for systems administrators.
“If you are a sysadmin the benefits for attending LISA are far larger than just the training program. The hallway track, tech sessions, and the rest of the conference are the best value you can get in sysadmin training in my opinion,” he wrote.
Organized by Usenix, the Advanced Computing Systems Association, LISA (Large Installation Systems Administration) is focused on the design, building, and maintenance of critical systems.
Who should attend: IT ops, systems admins, systems engineers, network engineers, software architects
Twitter: @devopsdays / #devopsdays
Date: Held throughout the year
Location: Multiple cities, mostly in the U.S. and Europe, sometimes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America
This conference series, run by volunteers, has a target audience of front-line engineers and their managers. A global core team includes such DevOps luminaries as Patrick Debois and Damon Edwards, who assist local organizers with their events worldwide.
“The format is really unique, in that it's 50 percent scheduled talks and 50 percent attendee-facilitated group discussion where the topics are voted on the day of,” Edwards said in an interview. “It's a great event for individual practitioners to learn from each other and a lot of new ideas bubble up from DevOps Days events.”
Nathan Sowatskey, a full-stack developer and consultant, blogged that “this is all about sharing: sharing your questions, concerns, and experience. It works well. People come to a discussion, potentially worried and confused, and walk away with more knowledge and ideas than they started with, and less worry and confusion.”
For example, a DevOps Days event in Austin in 2014 kicked off in a colorful way before moving on to meaty subjects and discussions, according to attendee Barton George, a Dell senior technologist. “Given that it was Cinco de Mayo, and given that it was Austin, as we walked in on the first day we were greeted by a mariachi band,” George wrote in his blog. “Also on the first day we were treated to an opening keynote by Andrew Clay Shafer. Shafer, a.k.a. Littleidea, is, among other things, a DevOps bon vivant and all around muser on concepts and systems big and small.”
Who should attend: Developers, IT ops
Gartner IT Operations Strategies & Solutions Summit 2016
Twitter: @Gartner_Events / #GartnerITOM
Date: May 10-12
Location: Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Maryland
Cost: Ranges from $2,850 to $2,225. Group discounts are available
The conference starts from the premise that the digital workplace has put many demands and pressures on IT operations staffers in areas such as support and innovation. The program, which isn’t yet ready for the 2016 conference, aims to provide “strategic guidance and tactical recommendations” for IT ops teams to handle this new reality. The focus will be on strategy, anchored by presentations from Gartner analysts, and the content won’t be highly technical.
Chris Boorman, Automic’s CMO, attended this conference for the first time in Berlin in mid-2015 and found it to be “an eye-opener.” Gartner analysts delivered an urgent message to IT ops leaders, telling them they had 24 months to turn their teams into digital enterprises, or else risk becoming mainframe dinosaurs, according to Boorman.
“I came away with a massive feeling of the need for change, agility, and speed,” he wrote in his company’s blog.
Who should attend: IT ops management, IT infrastructure, QA, network services, etc.
Some of our readers might describe many of the conferences in our second category as “must attend,” especially those that appear to be growing in size each year. Generally, these are conferences that are smaller in attendance or targeted at specific industries. All conferences in this section are either directly aimed at DevOps practitioners or focus on technologies and concepts that are related to DevOps.
Billed as “three lively days” that “present an invigorating blend of technology and local Austin experiences to engage and energize both technical practitioners and corporate leaders.”
The PuppetConf website offers the keynote from 2015, plus webinars, a list of sponsors, and a link to “Registor now” for a 40% discount on PuppetConf 2016.
According to their website, “SaltConf16 will include three full days of pure SaltStack data flow including pre-conference training on Tuesday, April 19, plus talks and keynotes by SaltStack customers and users, core engineers, developers, and partners.”
Jenkins User Conference
There are no details for 2016 yet, but this conference was held four times in 2015: in Alexandria, Virginia; Santa Clara, California; London, U.K.; and Tel Aviv, Israel. The conference focuses on the use of Jenkins for continuous integration and continuous delivery. Participants include Jenkins developers, build managers, QA, DevOps practitioners, IT managers/executives, architects, and IT ops.
Microsoft created Ignite in 2014 to consolidate several smaller conferences into a big one: Microsoft Management Summit, Microsoft Exchange Conference, SharePoint Conference, Lync Conference, Project Conference, and TechEd. It covers architecture, deployment, implementation and migration, development, operations and management, security, access management and compliance, and usage and adoption. Although it’s organized by Microsoft and focuses on the company and its products, it also draws more than 100 vendors that participate in the expo and as sessions speakers.
This conference, aimed at developers and IT professionals of all stripes, focuses on topics like big data and business intelligence, virtualization, DevOps, enterprise management and mobility, cloud and data center, development platforms and tools, and enterprise collaboration, with an emphasis on Microsoft products like Azure, Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint, although other vendors are also discussed.
DevOps Docker Camp
Date: February 23-24
Location: Munich, Germany
Cost: Price ranges from €1,199 to €1,349
The conference, held in German and designed for DevOps practitioners, systems administrators, and software and system architects, focuses on the basics of Docker and touches on infrastructures for micro services, app dev, container security, and best practices.
Organizer: S & S Media Group, www.sandsmedia.com
Twitter: @devops_con #DevOpsCon
Date: June 13-15
Location: Berlin, Germany
Cost: Depending on the scope of access and when tickets are bought, prices range from €499 to €1,199
This conference, held in German and English, includes an expo floor and addresses topics such as continuous delivery, microservices, Docker, cloud computing, container technology, lean business concepts, and shorter delivery cycles.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Container Summit, sponsored by Joyent, emphasizes the sharing of best practices from enterprise users of containers in production, which this year will include speakers from Walmart.com, Jet.com, and Hudson's Bay Co.’s HBC Digital
Described by its organizers as a “conference for Continuous Delivery, microservices, Docker & clouds” that focuses on accelerated delivery cycles and increased delivery quality. It will feature more than 60 speakers and 100 workshops.
DevOps Summit Brussels
Twitter: @UNICOMSeminars #unicomdevops #DevOpsSummit
Date: February 4
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Cost: Tickets: €395
Organized by UNICOM Seminars, this one-day event centers on the business value of DevOps and as such is aimed at a broad variety of staffers, including business managers, CxOs, developers, operations admins, and software architects.
Config Management Camp
Twitter: @cfgmgmtcamp #cfgmgmtcamp
Date: February 1-2
Location: Ghent, Belgium
Cost: Free. It’s currently full, but there is a waiting list: http://cfgmgmtcamp.eu/#registration
Aimed at people interested in open-source configuration management, primarily open-source developers, but also consultants, integrators, and industry analysts.
PowerShell and DevOps Global Summit
This conference is all about Microsoft’s PowerShell automation and configuration tool and features PowerShell product team members, Microsoft MVPs, engineers, developers, sys admins, PowerShell community members, and other experts doing a deep dive on this topic and on DevOps principles and practices. Organized by PowerShell.org, which is part of the DevOps Collective nonprofit corporation.
This event covers IT service management topics, and specifically the benefits and challenges associated with using ITSM when implementing virtualization, cloud computing, mobility, security, SaaS, and other technologies in the enterprise. There is a key track devoted to DevOps and Agile topics.
Continuous Lifecycle London
The conference organizers pledge a “holistic approach” to exploring continuous delivery and DevOps topics, saying they’ll not only address concepts, processes, and tools, but also feature real-world experts sharing their practical experience.
Conferences in this category are targeted at specific industries or technologies—for example, security, cloud computing, and open source. Although you won’t see “DevOps” in the conference titles here, we believe these gatherings will hold interest for many DevOps enthusiasts.
Twitter: @rsaconference #RSAC
Date: February 28 - March 4
Location: Moscone Center, San Francisco, California
Cost: Ticket prices vary widely, starting at $75 for an early-bird expo pass to $2,600 for a full-conference pass bought on site.
One of the world’s largest security conferences, RSA is a must for IT security pros, but it also has an entire track called “Application Security & DevOps.” Topics addressed in this track include secure application design and development methodologies, agile techniques in application security, and the intersection of secure development and security operations, according to the organizers.
Cloud Computing Expo
Dates and Locations:
Javits Center, New York, New York
Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, California
Cost: Depending on when it’s bought, a Gold Pass, which gives attendees full access to the proceedings, costs anywhere from $1,600 to $2,500.
This conference explores “the entire world” of enterprise cloud computing — private, public, and hybrid scenarios — and also devotes an entire track to DevOps.
Agile Dev West and East
Twitter: @TechWell #BetterSoftwareCon
Cost: Ticket prices (for both East and West) range from $795 for one day of tutorials to $3,095 for five full days at the conference.Pre-conference training and certification courses can be combined with the conference at prices that run up to $4,045.
The Agile Dev conferences focus on the latest agile methods, tools, and principles of interest to both new and experienced agile practitioners. These conferences are held in conjunction with Better Software Conferences and DevOps Conferences, giving attendees three programs to choose from.
Agile Dev West
Agile Dev East
Twitter: @gluecon / #gluecon
Date: May 25-26
Location: Omni Interlocken, Broomfield, Colorado
Cost: $795, early-bird registration (before March 25)
The conference focuses on what its organizers consider the most important trends in technology, including cloud computing, DevOps, mobile, APIs, and big data, all from the perspective of developers, which organizers view as being at the core and at the vanguard of all these areas.
Who should attend: Developers
OSCON (O'Reilly Open Source Convention)
Twitter: @oscon @OReillyMedia #Oscon
Date: May 16-19, 2016
Location: Austin, Texas
Cost: Ranges from under $1,400 to $3,495.
OSCON focuses on open-source software, which has evolved from disruptive to mainstream since the conference was first held in 1999. “In the early days, this trailblazing O'Reilly event was focused on changing mainstream business thinking and practices; today OSCON is about real-world practices and how to successfully implement open source in your workflow or projects,” reads the conference’s website.
Aimed not just at developers but also at entrepreneurs, business executives, and investors, OSCON touches on open source across the board. “Rather than focus on a single language or aspect, such as cloud computing, OSCON allows you to learn about and practice the entire range of open source technologies.”
As with the 2015 event, more than 4,000 attendees are expected in 2016. The conference will feature hundreds of sessions, tutorials, keynotes, a “hallway track” for ad hoc discussions, after-hours events and parties, and an expo hall. The conference has been called “an immersive exploration and celebration of the ever-expanding world of open source software.”
Writing about the 2015 conference, Michael Dexter, a senior analyst at iXsystems, warned future first-time attendees to “be prepared for a massive, sincere effort to achieve the impossible: to be all things to all people in the wildly diverse open source community. … For over 15 years the organizers have done their best to strike a balance between open source projects and open source enterprises, and to track the shifting trends up and down the computing stack,” he wrote.
Who should attend: Developers, programmers, software architects, designers, sys admins, entrepreneurs, CxOs
Twitter: @QCon @QConNewYork #qconnewyork
Location: U.S. venues in New York City and San Francisco
Cost: Ranges between $1,500 and $3,600, depending on when the reservation is made and what it includes. Options include three conference days, three conference days and one tutorial day, three conference days and two tutorial days, and just one or two days of tutorials
QCon New York
Date: June 13-17, 2016 in New York, NY
QCon San Francisco
Date: November 7-11 in San Francisco, California
If you or your team are struggling to implement agile practices, you’re certainly not alone. According to one attendee at the 2015 QCon event, the focus was not only on ideas, but also “the business benefits behind these improvements in working practices.” QConferences are held in numerous venues around the world, starting with the March event in London.
As described on its website, QCon is a practitioner-driven conference, “designed for technical team leads, architects, engineering directors, and project managers who influence innovation in their teams.”
Past events have drawn from all the “big web companies,” such as Netflix, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, and Amazon, as well as startups. Organizers foster interactions among attendees with simple, thoughtful tactics, such as printing people’s first names in really big type on their badge and assigning topics to lunch tables. They describe the conference as empowering “software development by facilitating the spread of knowledge and innovation in the developer community.”
The atmosphere is technical, but fun and collegial at the same time, offering easy opportunities to network.
QCon will also be held in 2016 in London, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, and Shaghai.
Who should attend: Technical team leads, architects, engineering directors, project managers
Date: May 23-26, 2016
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Cost: Ranges from $995 to $2,745, depending on when the reservation is made and what options are chosen. The least expensive option is a pass to attend the two-day conference, while the most expensive includes two conference days and two training days.
Also held in several European cities, this year’s Chicago-based GoTo Conference touts its vendor-neutral approach and its focus on current enterprise software development topics covered “broadly” across technologies, trends, methods, and best practices.
Organizers describe the GoTo Conference as “created by developers, for developers," with emphasis on what has recently become relevant and interesting for the software development community. “We are working on another great year. Sign up for our newsletter to receive new speaker and schedule announcements, free goto night events, and special offers.”
Speakers at the 2016 conference will include Boaz Avital, tech lead for Core Storage at Twitter; Caitie McCaffrey, who works in distributed systems at Twitter; and Jez Humble, a lecturer at UC Berkeley and co-author of the book Continuous Delivery.
This highly technical conference offers informal and easy contact with experts in attendance, as well as with fellow software and technology professionals
Who should attend: Developers, IT architects, project managers
Twitter: @fluentconf / @OReillyMedia #FluentConf
Date: March 7-10
Location: Marriott Marquis, 780 Mission St., San Francisco, California
IBM developer advocate Raymond Camden, a speaker at Fluent 2015, writes, “Content has always been a strong point of Fluent and this year was no different. This is one of the few conferences where if I wasn’t elected to speak, I’d beg my employer to send me as an attendee.”
With 80-plus speakers and dozens of lectures, the conference covers a lot of ground. At the 2016 event, organizers promise to offer more professional training and “deep content” for advanced engineers. There will be one-day tutorials and two-day training sessions about topics such as Node.js, Redux and React, ES6, and Async.
Attendees will experience a midsized conference that is highly technical conference that offers practical training on the full web technology stack
First held in 1996 by Sun Microsystems, JavaOne is billed as the largest conference for Java developers. At the 2015 conference in San Francisco, Oracle, which now sponsors this event, marked the 20th anniversary of Java’s creation, saying its popularity continues to grow. After all, it’s in use by about 10 million developers worldwide. The company pledged to continue developing Java, promising major improvements and innovations in Java 9 and beyond.
The conference consistently features important speakers from the Java world. Among the keynote speakers in the 2015 conference were Georges Saab, vice president of the Java Platform Group at Oracle, and Mark Reinhold, chief architectof the Java Platform Group.
Markus Eisele, developer advocate at Red Hat, notes that “everybody knows JavaOne,” which “feels like it’s been there forever.” While the conference has had its “ups and downs” over the years and it’s held in ultra-expensive San Francisco, it’s still “the number one premium conference about all kinds of Java.”
JavaOne is held at the same time and place as Oracle’s big Open World conference, and attendees can get a pass for both conferences, if they wish. Java One is a larger conference, but attendees are friendly, enthusiastic, and collegial, usually willing to share experiences.
Who should attend: Java developers
Our final category includes conferences that are just too cool to overlook. So if you’re planning your conference travel and budget around DevOps shows, you might want to save a little room on your plate for one or more of the following important events.
CES (Consumer Electronics Show)
The legendary and massive consumer electronics conference and expo covers a wide range of topics, some of which might be of direct or tangential interest to those involved with DevOps and IT ops, such as security, digital entertainment, e-commerce, gaming, robotics, storage, education technology, mobile apps, and networking.
SXSW (South By Southwest)
While music and film are key elements of SXSW, the event also has a strong technology component, with topics this year including startups, wearables, healthcare IT, virtual reality, IoT, smart cities, digital media, online marketing, software design and development, open source, mobile design, and user experience.
September 12-14 in San Francisco, California
Cost: Extra early-bird ticket for full, three-day access is $1,795. Other packages for exhibitors and individuals available.
Disrupt is the conference for anyone involved with or interested in startups, entrepreneurs, venture capital, and emerging technologies. It features hackathons, provocative panel discussions and A-list speakers. Many leading companies have used Disrupt as a springboard.
Twitter: @Gartner_Events #ITxpo #GartnerSYM
Date: October 16-20
Location: Orlando, Florida
Cost: Standard conference price is $5,600. Public-sector price is $4,000. Group discounts are available.
This is the mother of all Gartner conferences, aimed specifically at CIOs and technology executives in general, addressing from an enterprise IT perspective topics such as mobility, cybersecurity, cloud computing, application architecture, application development, IoT, and digital business.
A massive gaming show that covers mobile, video and computer games and related products, it covers topics of interest to software developers, buyers and retailers, distributors, entertainment industry executives, venture capitalists, manufacturers, and resellers.
Interop Las Vegas
A venerable tech conference, Interop delves into topics like applications, cloud computing, collaboration, networking, IT leadership, security, software-defined networking, storage, virtualization and data center architecture, and mobility.
Did we miss any conferences and events?
We've done our best to compile this comprehensive list of the top DevOps conferences to attend in 2016, but nobody's perfect. This is a "list in progress."
Please let us know in the comments below if there are any other events or conferences you think we should add to our list.
We've also put together several other lists of conferences:
Image credit: Flickr