DevOps & the Death and Rebirth of Childhood Innocence

Erik Evrard

Erik Evrard has a PhD in physics, and is specialised in quantum physics and elementary particles. As a teenager at the age of 15 he built his first computer based on the SC/MP processor, soon followed by an 8088-based model. As a physicist he came in touch with the earliest forms of the Internet in international laboratories like CERN in Switzerland and DESY in Germany. In 1995 he left the world of scientific research, and started a new career as Value Added Manager at EUnet, Europe’s first pan-European Internet Service Provider. From its headquarters in Amsterdam he led the development of new innovative services in 28 European countries, such as one of the first online credit card payments in Europe, streaming audio and video services, which still seemed science-fiction in the 1990s.

Later, he advised startups, large companies and organisations throughout Europe on their digital strategy, provided due diligence on startup seed investments for several VC funds, and for several years he led a Drupal agency. He's been using Drupal since 4.6, but only got in touch with the community in 2009.

At the moment, he helps grow, a VC-backed scale-up company that provides a very innovative "idea-to-cloud" application platform.

Presentation Description

Remember when the internet was pure and unspoiled? In our innocence we saw the promise of renewal of the world through connecting, sharing, and creating online. We became developers and hackers because we wanted to understand how things work, to take them apart, and build quirky (and sometimes useful) things just for the pleasure of it. 

In the earliest decades of the Internet Epoch the Internet was a playground. We happily coded directly on production systems. And it was fine, as many Great Things were created. But the Internet has matured, and has now become Big Business. Developers have matured too, and good thing they did! So many people now rely on what we’ve built, for security, for privacy, for the paycheck at the end of the month. We matter.

Maturity has come at a price though, and deploying well tested code into complex applications with polyglot teams working with heterogeneous stacks, all while maintaining compliance with GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, etc. has taken all of the childhood innocence out of the web. Now even the simplest website seems like Hard Work.

In this talk I will show how we can, and should, regain our joyful demeanor, how we can use the maturity of the most innovative tools around us to start hacking like crazy again. Without regressing on agility, testing, compliance, scalability or robustness. I use the metaphor of childhood innocence to explain how the complexity of modern cloud computing, in combination with increasing quality expectations and compliancy, has curtailed the creative freedom of developers, and as a whole, organisational motivation.

Together with a lack of resources and idea time, this leads to lower and slower product innovation. We are, however, at the brink of a paradigm shift in cloud computing that will give developers and hackers their mojo again. This talk will zoom into the key elements of this paradigm shift, and provide an overview of the basic concepts and operational practices of the new age of developer innocence.