The Open Source Datacenter Conference 2013

As some of you might already know, synyx provides their employees with an annual budget that we can spend on anything that helps us improve our job skills, such as professional literature, training or seminars and conferences. So, a few weeks ago, when a coworker mentioned the upcoming Open Source Data Center Conference in Nuremberg, we decided to sign up for it and go on an exciting adventure to improve our knowledge of the newest system administration technologies.
The Open Source Data Center Conference – OSDC – is a professional conference (hosted by netways, an open source IT company, just like ourselves) for experienced Open Source professionals and insiders to gather and share knowledge and expertise over presentations, workshops and hands on examples, and also to learn from each others experience in how we deal with everyday problems. Oh, and not to forget to enjoy some social networking and getting to know some other system administrators.
We arrived on Tuesday night. My Coworker, Sascha, stayed at the Holiday Inn in Nuremberg – a pretty decent hotel located in downtown Nuremberg, right between the medieval town walls and the Pegnitz river, featuring nice, modern guest rooms and several conference rooms. Each day, we enjoyed the hotels breakfast bar, a great lunch buffet and tasty Dinner – and between talks and workshops, we’ve been fed with snacks, coffee and ice cream. They know how to keep system administrators happy! Since I have family living in the Nuremberg area, I decided to opt out of staying at the hotel and just stayed at my folks house, so I can’t tell you much about the hotel rooms. I’ve been told, they also have been great though.
Well, enough talking about the hotel and all the enjoyable amenities they provided us with. Let’s talk about the workshops. The program was structured into three tracks: “Cloud & Big Data”, “DevOps and Methods” and “Infrastructure Services”. On Wednesday, I attended the following talks:
– “2000 databases later”: Kris Köhntopp talking about how they planned and rolled out the MySQL upgrade at’s datacenter. Kris’ talk was very entertaining and informative and a great opening for the conference. In my opinion the best talk of the day!
– “Deconstructing the Cloud”: A talk by Nicholas Mailer about the advantages, but more important, trying to create awareness about the downsides and risks of cloud computing, by giving examples of how the cloud suffers from dangerous ambiguity that can subvert the very freedoms and flexibility that Open Source Software provides. Not quite as entertaining as Kris’ talk, but still very interesting!
– “Petabyte storage with Ceph”: Martin Loschwitz explaining the Ceph object storage solution.
– “Configuration management and Linux packages”: Schlomo Schapiro showing how he handles service configuration distribution by auto-generating and deploying configuration packages. Well… Also an interesting topic, but I didn’t really see any advantages compared to puppet.
– “The truth is in the logs”: Finishing of the first day with Jan Dobersteins talk about log management. It made me want to try logstash now…
Kris Köhntopp also set up an ad-hoc Ingress workshop later this evening, introducing some of us to googles augmented reality game. Well, what can I say… I still don’t get what the fuzz is all about… *shrug*.
Most of the folks went to the “Indabahn” bar at the Hauptbahnhof, to get dinner, some drinks and to socialize a bit. Apparently, the socializing part went quite well – not everybody got up in time to attend the first talk the next morning :).
The second day had the following topics for me:
– “lxc@libvirt”:. Erkan Yanar talking about how LXC can be managed by libvirt. I heard some people were somewhat disappointed about this talk, others found it pretty entertaining and interesting, and it made me want to look a little deeper into this topic.
– “Software packaging with RPM demystified”: Andrew Fords talk about packaging with RPM. I was interested in this topic, so attending this session seemed like a good idea. Didn’t really learn anything new though.
– “Foreman – an interface for Puppet”: I thought I should give this talk a try, since I’ve heard about Foreman before and simply knew it was a “management tool to edit and deploy puppet manifests”. Boy, was I wrong. Ohad Levy was providing us with lots of examples of how Foreman is a very powerful tool to manage every stage of the lifecycle of a server. We are definitely looking into using Foreman here at synyx now.
– One of the best talks of the day for me was “Linux firewall change management resilient” by Lindsay Holmwood, explain how Ript utilises iptables features to work its magic, and provide some concrete examples of how Ript can help increase the reliability of the services you delive.
In this talk Lindsay will cover how Bulletproof’s approach to these problems has evolved over the last 4 years, and some of the tools Bulletproof has developed and built upon to provide an awesome service to our custo Hadoop”, which gave me a chance to learn something more about a topic I have no experience with so far.
This evening, we didn’t do much in terms of socializing, so my Coworker and I just walked through the town, enjoying the nice weather and visiting some of the towns historic sights and eventually hanging out at the Kaiserburg.
Friday wasn’t technically part of the OSDC anymore, instead it was the “Puppet Camp”. A one day workshop with talks about – you’ve guessed it – puppet.
– “The current state of Puppet”: Puppet Labs CTO Nigel Kersten talking about Puppet. Pretty straight forward. Pretty interesting. What else can I say?
– “Refactoring Puppet”: James Fryman talking about how to refactor Puppet code in a controlled and organized method and how to organize modules to take advantage of Data Drive infrastructure.
– “More of the Same – Please!”: Michael Haselgruebler talking about managing Multi-Tenant Application Servers with Puppet.
– “Foreman”: Pretty much Ohad Levys talk from Thursday again.
– “Puppet at Bulletproof Networks”: Lindsay Holmwood covering how his company has been working with Puppet for the last 4 years and how they handle the problems and challenges they have been facing.
The OSDC and the Puppet Camp were very interesting and I learned a lot about new Data Center technologies. Still, after attending 3 days of talks and workshops, I was glad to call it a week. The OSDC gave me a lot of new ideas and it definitely was worth attending. Next years OSDC will be held in Berlin instead of Nuremberg and I am planning to visit. See you guys there!


  1. Korrekt. Spellcheck gone wild *husthust*... :D. Hab's gefixt, merci :)

  2. Der Project Lead von Foreman heißt Ohad, nicht Chad. ;-)