Recently in LISA11 Category

USENIX Association LISA '10: 24th Large Installation System Administration Conference

(This "welcome" letter appeared on the USB stick given to all attendees. Since most people probably missed it I thought I'd repost it here.)

Message from the Program Co-Chairs

Dear LISA '11 Attendee,

There are two kinds of LISA attendees: those who read this letter at the conference and those who read it after they've returned home. To the first group, get ready for six days of brain-filling, technology-packed, geek-centric tutorials, speakers, papers, and more! To those that are reading this after the conference, we ask, "What's it like living in the future? How was the conference? What cool tips and tools did you take home with you to make your job easier?"

Being a sysadmin is kind of like living in the future. You work with technology every day that would make Buck Rogers jealous. Most of our friends are jealous, too. When LISA started 25 years ago, a "large site" had 10 computers, each the size of a dishwasher, with a few gigabytes of combined storage. Today our cell phones have 32GB of "compact flash," which is often more than the NFS quota we give our users.

Attending LISA is kind of like spending a week living in the future. We learn technologies that are cutting-edge-- little known now, but next year everyone will be talking about them. When we return from LISA we sound like time travelers visiting from the future talking about new and futuristic stuff. LISA makes us look good.

LISA rarely has a cohesive conference theme, but this year we thought it was important to highlight DevOps, as it is a significant cultural change. Although DevOps is often thought of as "something big Web sites do," the lessons learned transfer well to enterprise computing.

LISA has always been assembled using the sweat of many dedicated volunteers. It takes a lot of effort to put a conference like this together, and this year is no different. Most prominent are the Invited Talks committee (Æleen Frisch and Kent Skaar) and the Program Committee (Narayan Desai, Andrew Hume, Duncan Hutty, Dinah McNutt, Tim Nelson, Mario Obejas, Mark Roth, Carolyn Rowland, Federico D. Sacerdoti, Marc Stavely, Nicole Forsgren Velasquez, Avleen Vig, and David Williamson), but also important are the Workshops Coordinator (Cory Lueninghoener), the Guru Is In Coordinator (Chris St. Pierre), the Poster Session Coordinator (Matt Disney), and the Work-in-Progress Reports Coordinator (William Bilancio). We couldn't have done it without every one of them. Of course, nothing would happen without the leadership of the USENIX staff. We are indebted to you all!

Of the 63 papers submitted, we accepted 28. These papers represent the best "deep thought" research, as well as Practice and Experience Reports that tell the stories from people "in the trenches." We encourage you to read them all. However, the power of LISA is the personal interaction: introduce yourself to the attendees standing in line near you, strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. And remember to have fun!

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Limoncelli, Google, Inc.
Doug Hughes, D. E. Shaw Research, LLC
Program Co-Chairs

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

I've booked a BoF room at 9pm to give my talk "SRE@Google: Thousands of DevOps Since 2004".

Tuesday, December 6, 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., Fairfax B

"Tom will describe technologies and policies that Google uses to do what is (now) called DevOps. Google doesn't just empower developers and operations to work together, we have a system that empowers all groups to be their own devops team. (This is based on my opening keynote at the Pittsburgh Perl Workshop.)"

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

(In an effort to get these out sooner rather than later I'm not spending a lot of time editing and proofreading. You've been warned.)

Daytime: Today I spent the day in the Advanced Technology Workshop.

What is a workshop? People need a space to spend an entire day (or half-day) to talk about a topic. There are workshops for people researching certain areas and their workshop at LISA is a once-a-year touchstone to meet in person, give presentations, share ideas, and so on. The Configuration Management workshop is in its 11th year. In fact, Puppet was inspired by a debate (argument?) at CMW a number of years ago. Other workshops are less research-y, like the one for sysadmins at government and military sites. The full list is here.

The Workshop I attended today is called The Advanced Technology Workshop. It is intended for very senior administrators, provides an informal roundtable discussion of the problems facing system administrators today. It is part support group and part talking about hot-topics. The discussion is relatively confidential so that people can speak freely. However notes are distributed after the fact to attendees.

Dinner: As the conference co-chairs, Doug and I have a lot of preparation to do for the Wednesday morning plenary. We decided to have dinner together and then finish what we needed to do. Most of it was finalizing the slides and rehearsing the dialog for the introductions and opening at the Wednesday plenary. We also met up with his old boss from many years ago and I got to hear some stories about "the old days".

BoFs:

LGBT: 7pm: I went to the "Birds of a Feather" (BoF) session called "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Friends BoF". This was the 11th year (we believe) of this BoF. The room was packed. The first half was people introducing themselves. Everyone said their name, company and described their employer's HR policies related to LGBT people: does their non-discrimination policy include LGB or LBGT status, do healthcare benefits apply to same-sex partners, and so on. The second half we talked about industry news, conference insider tips, and what we can do to increase the number of women that attend Usenix.

SRE@Google: 9pm: Not to be confused with the Google Vendor BoF on Thursday night (where there will be plenty of beer and ice cream for everyone), this BoF was a talk by some guy from Google... oh wait, me! "SRE@Google: Thousands of DevOps Since 2004". First the talk compared software development in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s and how this changes operations (system administration). I then described Google's system administration practices that (1) help developers and operations work collaboratively, (2) drive both reliability and high change rates, (3) make it fun. Turn-out was huge, and the questions and comments were excellent. I'm glad I got to do this talk.

I got to bed by 11pm which was pretty important because tomorrow is a big day. The "technical conference" portion of the conference begins. This is 3 days of invited talks, papers, guru sessions and keynotes.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

(In an effort to get these out sooner rather than later I'm not spending a lot of time editing and proofreading. You've been warned.)

Again woke up around 6am. Rehearse parts of the tutorial, got breakfast at the Sheraton Club on the 29th floor.

Tutorial: The Limoncelli Test: My first new tutorial in years! Based on this blog post, the tutorial lists 32 "best practices" that sysadmin teams should do. I had enough time to discuss half of them. At the start of the class I had everyone take the test, and then focused on discussing the ones that had a lot of "no" answers (by show of hands). An attendee wrote a very complimentary review of the tutorial. The "surprise" I had prepared was that for the entire last hour we talked about nothing but specific techniques for "creating organizational change" (which is a fancy was of saying "how to convince your manager and coworkers agree to these fantastic ideas you have). We talked about why people push back (mostly because they're authority is being challenged or they don't want the discomfort that comes from doing new things). The techniques for working on these issues involve various psychology tips to help you understand how people think and how to work from there.

Lunch: I had the lunch that comes with the tutorial sessions. It was mostly sandwiches: I had the roast beef.

Afternoon: I had free time in the afternoon. I spent some time at the CHIMIT workshop which seeks to help link researchers that study system administrators and the system administrators that are available to be studied.

Dinner: A random group of people that were standing around getting hungry decided to go to dinner. We split into two groups, one that went to PF Chang and another that went "somewhere that doesn't put peppers in everything". It was fun being at dinner in a group where I didn't know everyone. We talked about everything from networking, Puppet, politics and rock and roll.

I didn't go to any BoFs but there were BoFs for small sites, AFS users, software patents and other things.

I hung out and did the unofficial "hallway track". I got some one-on-one time with Philip Kizer (president of LOPSA) to talk about some ideas I had and ask about what the future plans are. I'm glad LOPSA is getting some focus and look forward to hearing more at their LOPSA Annual Meeting and Town Hall.

Later at night I hung out at the bar. Another event was in the hotel and it was a big event with a band, speakers and so on. When it emptied out they came to the bar too. You could tell who was who because LISA attendees were all in tshirts and the other group were in formalwear (suits and dresses). One of the speakers for their event was this famous actor and he was sitting right by us in the bar. I wasn't sure it was him, and William kept asking people to look and see if they thought it was him. About half the people we asked hadn't heard of his movies when we mentioned them. Eventually someone pulled up his picture on IMDB and we decided it had to be him. William finally went up to him and got his autograph. Win!

Later my brother showed up. Yup, my brother Ed works in IT and is at LISA this year! W00t!

At that point it was late so I went to bed.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

Sunday I woke up around 6am, had breakfast at the hotel "club" on the 29th floor (great view!)

Tutorial: Time Management for System Administrators: In the morning I taught a half-day class on Time Management. This is the "personal" time management side of things: making your life more sane. I've taught this class at LISA every year since 2005-ish and this year the turn-out was HUGE (80+ people). No matter how many times I teach this I get new and interesting questions each time. After the tutorial I autographed books and answered questions.

Lunch: I had the lunch that comes with the tutorial sessions. Chicken, salad, etc.

Tutorial: Time Management: Team Efficiency: In the afternoon I taught my new(ish) tutorial on tools for helping your team work together. This is all material that is new since Time Management for System Administrators was published. (1) Making meetings not suck. Meetings that waste your time are evil and there are many good ways to reform bad meetings and escape the unfixable ones. (2) Tools that let the team delegate amongst themselves. You may be the only person that understands the guts of the backup system, but everyone should know how to do routine work like adding a new server, doing a restore, changing tapes, and so on. This is a matter of writing "service documentation" and "procedure documentation"... I know everyone hates writing docs, so we also talk about how to make it painless (hint: put a checklist onto a wiki is better than nothing; a little structure and you are almost entirely there. (3) tools for sharing information, and tearing down power structures that are based on information hiding, (4) tips for creating a more shared, collaborative, oncall/pager experience, (5) templates to use for things like design docs, department web site, and so on.

Dinner: Met two local friends and had dinner at Cheesecake Factory. More calories than is ethical to put on a plate.

Evening: Hung out in the "hallway track"... social spaces around the conference venue where people hang out and chat. I got the "inside scoop" about what is happening with the people in certain open source projects; this will help me make some decisions I've been needing to make.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

Saturday, Dec 3:

Getting There: Since the conference is in Boston, I decided to take the train rather than fly. Amtrak costs about the same but is faster due to the lack of 2-hour wait for TSA and other airport things. I arrived in Boston at about 1pm, checked in at the hotel, changed, and went to the lobby to hang out.

Registration: Registration wouldn't open until 5pm so I hung out, talked with people, got some status updates from the Usenix staff about registration numbers and so on. Registration opened at 5pm spot on and I was 2nd in line :-) so I got registered fast.

Reunion: It was great to see so many familiar faces as people arrive. LISA is kind of one huge family. Kind of a "once a year family reunion" for people that know each other through technical mailing lists and other forums. It was particularly good to see people that haven't made it to LISA in years (hi Kurt!). It's also great to see so many new faces. I think everyone goes out of their way to make new people feel welcome. For example, around dinner time people form groups to go out and new people are recruited. Which brings me to...

Advice for new people: It's easy to be shy at a conference like this. Here's a tip to break out of that: It is always polite to turn to a person you don't know, stick your hand out (to shake their hand) and say, "Hi! I'm [your name]. What's your name?" This works great whether you are standing on line waiting for lunch, or sitting next to a stranger in waiting for a talk to begin. Some of the biggest opportunities to learn at LISA are from the other attendees. Strike up a conversation!

Dinner: Walked with a friend to an Indian restaurant called Kashmir on Newbury Street.

I went to sleep early because tomorrow was going to be a big day.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

Sysadmin1138 attended my LISA 2011 Tutorial "The Limoncelli Test" yesterday and wrote this excellent summary. Check it out:

http://sysadmin1138.net/mt/blog/2011/12/lisa-2011-the-limoncelli-test.shtml

Thanks for the write-up!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LISA11

Usenix has negotiated with the hotel to get the wifi fee waived for any attendee that stays in the hotel as part of the Usenix block.

When you sign in to the WiFi go through the process and agree to the $12.99/day (I think) charge, but when you check out it will be removed from your bill.

The conference hotel is the Sheraton Boston Hotel, 39 Dalton Street, Boston, MA

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LISA11

I'll be teaching 3 tutorials and one "guru" session. Plus, as conference co-chair I'll be on stage many other times too.

Watch this space: http://www.usenix.org/events/lisa11

  • Use the "Guidebook" app for Phone/Android/WinPhone7/BlackBerry: here
  • View the schedule in Google Calendar: here (click "+Google Calendar" in the lower right)
  • iCal feed: here (iCalendar, Outlook and others)
  • As an RSS feed: here

Advice about the Guidebook app:

  • To see the all the schedules merged (training, invited talks, etc.) click the "schedule" icon.
  • To search, swipe left (like you are turning to the page before the first page).
  • Mark items you want to attend and the "My Schedule" feature will just show those items
  • Search is probably the easiest way to find all my talks. Search for limoncelli (there are 4; yikes!)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LISA11

Google's tech blog posted info about the many things that Google is presenting or doing at Usenix LISA. Beer and ice cream on Thursday night. A "ask an SRE anything" booth in the vendor show. Presenting papers, talks and tutorials and much more! Check it out!

http://goo.gl/XXkpK

P.S. I'll be at the Google Vendor Booth Wed, noon-1pm.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

That's right, folks! Book your room today!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

We have three keynotes this year: Wednesday morning, Thursday morning, and the closing keynote Friday afternoon.

Our closing keynote speaker is Michael P. Perrone, Manager, Multicore Computing, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

I've been a sysadmin for long enough that not much impresses me any more. Watching IBM's "Watson" computer play Jeopardy! and beat the human contestants was, in a word, flabbergasting. Doug and I immediately began a quest to find someone from IBM that could talk about this amazing accomplishment at LISA. His talk, "What is Watson?" will be the final presentation of the conference.

The talk will be 50 minutes long followed by 10 minutes of A&Q.

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston. You can register any time, but you get a discount if you register by Nov 14. I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in CommunityLISA11

We have three keynotes this year: Wednesday morning, Thursday morning, and the closing keynote Friday afternoon.

Our Thursday keynote speaker is Andy Palmer, Global Head of Software and Data Engineering, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research

We invited Andy because he deals with peta-scale data warehousing, big databases and all that fun stuff. I love hearing talks about big big big data. There are always plenty of surprises when things get that big. As conference co-chair, I can't wait to meet him in person!

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston. You can register any time, but you get a discount if you register by Nov 14. I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

You can save big $$$ by registering for LISA on or by midnight tonight! (California time)

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

You can save big $$$ by registering for LISA on or by Nov 14th.

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

You can save big $$$ by registering for LISA on or by Nov 14th.

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

To help us celebrate Usenix LISA's 25th conference, we are looking for stories!

Do you have a favorite LISA story?

  • Something you learned at the conference
  • A contact you made that really had an impact on your career
  • A funny event that still makes you laugh?
  • Nostalgic (remember facesaver?) and contemporary too!

We are also looking for photographs! (Even if you don't know someone in the picture.) If you have an old Facesaver picture - even better!

Please send your story or photos by Sunday, November 20 to dinah@usenix.org.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

You can save big $$$ by registering for LISA on or by Nov 14th.

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

We have three keynotes this year: Wednesday morning, Thursday morning, and the closing keynote Friday afternoon.

The Wednesday keynote speaker is Ben Rockwood from Joyent who's talk is titled "The DevOps Transformation".

DevOps has a lot of buzz, but Ben will separate the hype from the reality. DevOps may be a new term, but it's not a new idea. He will deconstruct DevOps into its three transformation phases, look back at the often referenced but rarely explained history that influences it, and see how it is a catalyst that is changing the craft of system administration.

I'm really excited we were able to book Ben for the conference and can't wait to see the talk!

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston. You can register any time, but you get a discount if you register by Nov 14. I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

Looking at the Usenix LISA 2011 conference program I'm excited we could book some really powerful "what will I need to know next year" kind of talks. This is what first brought me to LISA many years ago... the fact that by attending I'd be one step ahead of my co-workers as far as what's new in system administration.

Some example talks:

  • "What Will Be Hot Next Year?" with moderator: Narayan Desai, Argonne National Lab. Panelists: Kris Buytaert, Inuits; John D'Ambrosia, Force10 Networks; Jacob Farmer, Cambridge Computer
  • "Ethernet's Future Trajectory" with John D'Ambrosia, Force10 Networks
  • "IPv6, DNSSEC, RPKI, etc.: What's the Holdup and How Can We Help?" with Richard Jimmerson, IETF ISOC
  • "DevOps: The past and future are here. It's just not evenly distributed (yet)." with Kris Buytaert, Inuits

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston. You can register any time, but you get a discount if you register by Nov 14. I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

Looking at the Usenix LISA 2011 conference program I'm proud that we have the three major configuration management systems covered: CFEngine3, Chef and Puppet:

Full-day classes:

  • "Puppet" with Nan Liu
  • "Configuration Management Solutions with CFEngine 3" with Mark Burgess

Invited Talks:

  • "3 Myths and 3 Challenges to Bring System Administration out of the Dark Ages" with Mark Burgess (CFEngine Inc)
  • "Building IronMan, Not Programming" with Luke Kanies, Founder, Puppet and Puppet Labs
  • "Converting the Ad-Hoc Configuration of a Heterogeneous Environment to a CFM, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Chef" with Dimitri Aivaliotis
  • "Choose Your Own Adventure" with Adam Jacob

Experience Reports:

  • "Getting to Elastic: Adapting a Legacy Vertical Application Environment for Scalability" with Eric Shamow (Puppet Labs)

The Guru is In: (Q&A sessions)

  • "Chef" with Aaron Peterson

Refereed Papers:

  • Fine-grained Access-control for the Puppet Configuration Language Bart Vanbrabant, Joris Peeraer, and Wouter Joosen, DistriNet, K.U. Leuven

Pretty awesome, eh?

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston. You can register any time, but you get a discount if you register by Nov 14. I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

LISA LISA LISA LISA

No, not this. I mean the Usenix LISA conference. It is only 5 weeks away. Have you registered yet?

The first few days are half-day tutorials with industry leaders teaching topics like Puppet, CFEngine (we don't take sides... both get a half day!), Time Management (that's me!), IPv6 (real deployments are happening!), and many many more topics.

The last half of the conference is a mixture of invited speakers, refereed papers, and other good stuff. What I like about the refereed papers this year is that we hit the perfect balance: half are "oh, I can use that right now!" and half are "OMG! Far out!"

The invited speakers are a mixture of hot topics (storage, security, virtualization, interesting new tools) and amazing people.

At night there are "Birds of the Feather" sessions, where YOU choose the topic.

Doug Huges and I are co-chairs this year and we're both proud of the work that the program committee has done. We look forward to seeing you there!

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston. You can register any time, but you get a discount if you register by Nov 14. I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

You can save big $$$ by registering for LISA on or by Nov 14th.

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LISA11

I'm teaching 3 tutorials at Usenix LISA this year. Two are on time management ("intro" and "team efficiency") but the third is brand new: The Limoncelli Test.

I've identified 32 qualities of well-functioning system administration teams. You've seen them before as "The Limoncelli Test". In this tutorial, I'll be going into more detail about the important ones and leaving plenty of room for Q&A. It is a 3-hour class and I hope to keep it interesting by making it very interactive.

The hardest part of adopting these practices is often your own co-workers resistance to change. Therefore, I'm adding a big section on influencing others and "selling" big changes within an organization. That is new material that hasn't appeared in any of my past tutorials or books. I think it will be the most valuable part of the session.

Register for this tutorial today!.

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston. You can register any time, but you get a discount if you register by Nov 14. I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

Two things I like about Usenix LISA conference: (1) The speakers are (usually) the inventor. (2) They're accessible, not roped off into a VIP room. You can talk with them, hang out with them. (Boston, Dec 4-9; early registration discount ends soon!)

There are a lot of big names this year: What's your interest?

The conference is in Boston, Dec 4-9, 2011.

Save money by registering on or before Monday, November 14, 2011.

For more information go to http://www.usenix.org/lisa11/

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

You can save big $$$ by registering for LISA on or by Nov 14th.

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

  1. Ask early. Sometimes approval takes a long time. He/she may have to ask higher-ups.

  2. Warm them up. One day mention how you wish you had better tools to do something or wish you knew more about something ("time management" maybe?). A few days later say that you found a class on the topic at LISA. (Intro to TM and Advanced TM are both being offered)

  3. Talk about end-results, not technologies. "There's a class that will teach me how to automate installations" is much more understandable than "there's a class on Puppet". Find 3 classes or talks you want to attend. Explain them in terms of the results the boss will see. 2 is good, a 3rd is good as a backup. More than 3 sounds like you are trying too hard.

  4. If they have a favorite sysadmin book, look to see if the author is speaking at the conference. If they respect the author, they'll be more open to sending you to the conference. If they like any of my books, tell them about my new class!

  5. Tell them they can come too. With classes like "A Sysadmin's Guide to Navigating the Business World", "Workplace Presentations 101 for System Administrators" and "Team Efficiency" there is a lot for them to learn too!

Usenix LISA 2011 is Dec 4-9 in Boston. You can register any time, but you get a discount if you register by Nov 14. I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

Would you like to help Usenix LISA? Please put the LISA11 button on your website or blog. HTML code can be found here: http://www.usenix.org/events/lisa11/

I just put it up on www.TomOnTime.com and changed the position of where it is on EverythingSysadmin.com

The graphic will change over the next 7 months so you don't have to do anything as we move from "collecting submissions" mode to "registration is open" mode to "thanks for attending" mode. Isn't distributed computing awesome?

Tom

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesLISA11

 
  • LISA16