Monitorama 2018 – Metrics, Serverless, Tracing, and Socks

As a former Portlander, Monitorama was a great reason to return to the Silicon Forest as summer keeps the infamous rains at bay. It was also an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest technologies and techniques in monitoring and observing large-scale, distributed systems from industry experts and practitioners.

This year the conference organizers implemented a few scheduling changes intended to support more “hallway track” – speakers were aligned to a single track and breaks were longer. This absolutely helped sustain a high level of energy throughout the three day event.

OpenTracing - Monitorama 2018
Lots of conversations took place in the hallway track

An obvious trend at the conference was the prevalence of foot-encasing swag. Socks were available from a variety of vendors, including LightStep, with Monitorama-branded socks available for each attendee.

It’s always important to make a statement with your first speaker, and this year’s last minute substitution generated a lot of buzz. From Buzzfeed, Logan McDonald’s talk, Optimizing for Learning, blended behavioral research with practical techniques that resonated for many attendees, based on my conversations throughout the three days. It was the first of several talks that touched on how to sustainably build, grow, and integrate teams in fast-paced high technology companies including talks by Kishore Jalleda (Microsoft), Zach Musgrave/Angelo Licastro (Yelp), and Aditya Mukerjee (Stripe).

As expected, serverless was the subject of talks and open discussion, displacing the last few years of container domination (although containers were still represented by Allan Espinosa from Bloomberg). Serverless was featured alongside a plethora of cat puns in Pam Selle’s talk, and in Yan Cui’s effort to submit feature requests to every vendor simultaneously with his walkthrough of the ideal serverless monitoring system he wanted to use.

Metrics continued to be very important, however tracing made its mark with a strong showing from vendors (Sematext announces support for OT), speakers (OpenTracing’s Ted Young and his lightning talk), and strong interest from attendees in Wednesday’s Tracing breakfast. Some thirty folks braved the early morning pastries of Cafe Umbria, following the late night of Tuesday’s vendor parties. Many attendees were just beginning their journey into microservices, considering Open Zipkin and Jaeger, while others were on the hunt for anecdotes about a vendor that would meet their needs as microservices and serverless continue to increase the observability complexity of their environments.

Tracing Breakfast - Monitorama 2018
Lively discussion at the Tracing breakfast

I left Monitorama feeling really energized by the current state of the industry and how our field is quickly becoming a focal point for this latest wave of DevOps innovation and best practices. So many of the observability challenges that were raised and passionately discussed are precisely the ones we’re focused on solving at LightStep. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, see how our customers use our product to maintain performance and reliability for their modern applications with advanced distributed tracing using industry-adopted standards.