First things first, this post is not intended to be an attack. It is going to go over what my own feelings were with #AnsibleFest, which I attended yesterday for my birthday gift from my wife. If you were there, you may agree, you may disagree. All in all, it is an opinion that I myself have of the situation.
#AnsibleFest this year was not horrible, but it was also not nearly as successful as I would have expected given the $300 ticket charge (wife missed the early bird). There was very little technical presentation, and a whole lot of sales testimonial.
Now herein lies the issue — Most of the sales testimonials were “All talk” and little to no “walk”. Even @JRCumulus on twitter did more talking about “theoretical” things that we could do with @Ansible, but left us asking “Ok, are you going to show us? Or are you here to say that you have only been playing with the ideas and concepts and in all truth, you don’t have much right now?”
JR’s discussion focused more on ISC DHCPD than it did on Cumulus, what it is for instance — Cumulus is one of the new and modern ONIE compliant baremetal switch operating systems. It allows you to run actual debian on your switch. They are partnered with vendors like Quanta, Dell, etc. The discussion could very easily have shown how they are planning on working with @Ansible via either push or pull to actually configure the vlans; don’t just tell us what you are working to accomplish, show us more.
In the case of Cumulus, given that it is debian, I would imagine there is a whole lot of interaction with /etc/network/interfaces. How are you handling the management of this? Are you using ansible-managed as part of a templating for the file? Are you regenerating it on every successful execution? Let’s see you actually show us how you are managing the vlans.
Another one of the sessions that got a bit of hazing was the Google demo... Unfortunately the hotel’s wifi dropped for ~45 minutes, and even when it was “running”, it was hardly what any of us would describe as stable. When the connection dropped, 90% of the users in the room pulled out their phones and off we went; It was rather unfortunate that the presenter didn’t take this option, I mean you’re with google. You’re going to tell me you don’t have an android device with a tethering/mobile hotspot? (Sorry, it’s hard not to feel disappointed, I mean, its GOOGLE! The owners of motorola, the creators of android...)
Now, those were the types of things that left a rather unfortunate “That’s it?” taste in many of the more advanced user’s mouths. But there is also a bit of redemption in this as well. @Ansible is a young and fairly energetic tool with many passionate users, the base of which is growing daily. There were many at the #AnsibleFest that have had little to no interaction with automation or orchestration. Talk’s like those of @bigpanda, @google, and @telesc0petv were perfect, as they were by actual users who have faced these challenges, and using @Ansible, they were able to overcome the complexities and struggles of their respective organizational needs. For new users, they need to hear this. I just wish there would have been more substance to these discussions as well, as they could have really shown how great the tool can be.
Other areas where there was success? By far the most appreciated part of the conference for those of us who lurk on irc, or have been using @Ansible for quite some time were the discussions by the staff themselves. Brian Coca, who signed on with @Ansible just minutes before the conference started (Congrats again, Brian!), presented on extending @Ansible. It allowed us to learn a fair bit about the internals of @Ansible, from a “this is how you think it works. This is how it really works.” From runner mostly down the whole stack, we learned how @Ansible operates, and how we can extend it.
The final aspect of the fest that was probably the most successful part of the conference in general was the community networking. Those newer to the technology got to interact with those of us who have been around lurking/using for a while. I made no less than 10 connections myself, and that was with a mostly trivial amount of effort of building my connection base.
All in all, I think that it was a decent first step for a company that has seen tremendous growth. @Ansible is still young, but it is moving in all the right directions to be the major player to beat; it already is in my book. I even discussed with Brian and some of the others asking about drift control how @Ansible could integrate with TripWire, Aide, etc in order to compete with the likes of puppet for system required non-change controls. Some of this is why tower was created, but being open source, the rest of us can do our part to contribute; because of that? Anything is possible in the future.
To the @Ansible staff, thank you for the conference, it was fun. Let’s see if we can make each one after this more and more successful, overcoming the struggles of the prior. Thanks to @Linode and the other sponsors who made it possible, without their support, none of us would have been there to begin with.
Now, onto some fun stuff, Links that everyone might find useful!
I will add more as I am made aware of them.