DevOpsDays KC is returning this week with an open spaces concept wherein audience members at the two-day conference vote on the topics to cover in real time, said Ryan McNair. Topics with the most votes create zones in the space in which the audience can flow freely from each area.
“If you don’t like it, walk away. You’ve got to go find someone else and talk to them instead. And so it creates this really interesting dynamic of people floating and mingling,” said McNair, an organizer of DevOpsDays and technical product owner at SMRxT. “I had one person describe it as a cathartic experience.”
The event — planned for Wednesday and Thursday at Plexpod Westport Commons — is positioned to let attendees start the week at work, he said, then go back to their offices with knowledge to apply.
“[You go] back on Friday, bring back what you learned, really talk about it, and apply it right away before you forget some stuff on the weekend,” McNair said. “So really it’s trying to bring that education part, and design all these different parts to really make that high quality.”
The conference is expected to show the upward trajectory of the tech industry in Kansas City, he said.
“[Tech leaders outside KC] don’t just see a headline about [KC’s tech scene], but they’re like, ‘They’re having these talks, they’re having these people, they have this audience,’ and it keeps putting us on the map,” he added.
The opening keynote is expected to be simulcast across the globe from a KC stage, said McNair, as part of the All Day DevOps virtual conference, a worldwide 24-hour live conference online, which is set for Thursday.
“[All Day DevOps] says they follow the sun. The talks happen in time zones around the globe,” he added.
DevOpsDays in Kansas City is modeled after a framework that began in Belgium in 2009. Aaron Blythe, a software architect at Cerner, began a meetup group in 2013 to build the DevOps community in KC, said McNair.
The event organizing team is 11 people, though the meetup group, which meets 10 times throughout the year, has since grown to 1,100 people, he said.
“Our group is driven by all these positive comments from the community,” he added. “We’ve been working hard year-round for the past three years, in addition to our day jobs, to make this type of education and learning accessible to organizations of all sizes in KC, not just the ones that can afford to spend $5,000 sending one or two people to a conference on the East or West coasts. I’m really proud of the team we have formed and the community we have cultivated.”
In 2019, the plan is to turn the group into a nonprofit, so the organizers can channel the excess money after an event into creating scholarships or funding other meetup groups, said McNair.
“If we can help with that, and be more of a administrative nonprofit group, then it just makes things a lot better for all these little groups,” he said. “Having that nonprofit organization gives us the ability to do that and focus not just on the conference. Then our monthly meetup can be a little more formal each month.”
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