QCon is one of the most identifiable conferences in IT world. Several times every year it connects IT professionals from the whole world in such a well-known locations like San Francisco, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing or London. The main idea of conference is to facilitate the spread of knowledge and innovation in developer community.
QCon SF 2014 was held in San Francisco at Hyatt Regency hotel. The conference itself took 3 days (November 3rd – November 17th), there were also additional two days of tutorials. Each conference day was opened with a keynote – the only part (except lunches and social events) when all attendees were together in one place. Then five separate tracks were launched, each one covering a specific topic from a wide range of IT issues. There was also an additional track of sponsored solutions. Some of the most interesting themes were: Deploying at Scale, Scalable Microservice Architectures, Java at the Cutting Edge, Reactive Service Architecture, Real World Functional or the Future of Mobile. As you can see, differentiated topics were provided and whether you are a programmer, team leader or architect – you could surely find one that fit your interests.
Conference days, full of valuable talks, were interspersed with social events like lunches in hotel foyer, dinner at a brewery where we tasted local beers and fine Spanish cuisine. Two hospitality receptions with snacks and drinks were also held at conference venue.
Slides and videos from the conference are available at QCon website. For now some stuff has been shared only with attendees, but six months after the conference all presentations will be made available to the general public.
From our point of view
Six engineers from Allegro participated in QCon SF 2014. What can we say about the conference? Due to its size, organization of such an event is a challenge. But hosts did a really good job – we did not observe noticeable queues for registration, talks, lunches or other events. Schedule posters and direction signs were placed everywhere — no possibility to get lost in the maze of corridors.
Speakers represented the most recognizable IT brands like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix, Groupon, PayPal or eBay. This is a big advantage of QCon. You sit between worldwide leaders and not only passively listen to their experience — you can feel you are the member of this community. Additionally conference location – Silicon Valley, home of the most innovative companies — intensifies this impression.
Talks were varied. Some of them boring, too broad. On the other hand some were too narrow and specialised to gain attention of broad audience. But fortunately, there were lot of extremely interesting and inspiring presentations.
Talk voting system was simple but powerful — before leaving auditory, you were asked to put a card (green, yellow or red, depending on your feeling about the presentation) into the bucket. Last but not least, lunches and social events were remarkable not only because of fine food and drinks, but mostly due to the opportunity to talk with colleagues from all over the world. Several discussions gave us valuable experience exchange and some insight into how others solve problems that we are facing.
Due to the large number of talks it is not possible to resume them all in one article. But several of them were especially interesting because they covered issues which Allegro is involved in.
Sangeeta Naryanan (also from Netflix) in talk How we learned to stop worrying and start deploying the Netflix API Service showed her company’s road from 2-week release cycle with a lot of delays to on-demand releases with automatic canary analysis, red-black deployment, easy feature rollback and full rollback. She also proved that not only organization and its teams should be agile – architecture should be agile as well.
Michael Garvery from Zappos reminded Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design, proving that less, but better is the best design strategy.
Steven Ihde and Karan Parikh showed LinkedIn’s road to transforming from a monolith to microservices + REST. They described their own open-source rest.li framework for building RESTful services and Deco library providing URN resolution focusing on what data you want, not how you want it.
Sri Vismanath from Groupon talked about organizational culture and change from ”daily deals” merchant to technological company. He stressed on A/B tests of every feature that Groupon provides for users.
We and the world
Taking part in QCon convinced us that we at Allegro are doing a good job and have an opportunity not only to use today’s top innovative solutions, but also to take a part in creating the future of IT. During presentations we noticed that some big and identifiable companies have problems that we have successfully solved some time ago. To be honest, we have also discovered or been reminded of some issues on our side that should be improved. But wherever we are on this road to the ideal, the good thing is that we are on the same or at least similar path as other innovative world-class companies.
QCon is really worth taking part in – after the conference, you are up-to-date with latest IT trends and see what is used in the real world – and not only on paper.
To have the most valuable experience it is better to carefully choose talks in which you participate. Catchy title is not a guarantee of avoiding a boring, monotonous presentation.
Social events are one of the strongest points of QCon. Think about one of famous IT brands and look around – you will surely find people from that company and have opportunity to talk with them. So if you want to know what happens in the world — this is place to be.