After four days of FOSDEM and CfgMgmtCamp, you might suspect that people would be too tuckered out to turn up for one more day of conference – but you'd be wrong. More than 80 people, almost all who'd been at FOSDEM and CfgMgmtCamp, turned up last Wednesday in Ghent for the first Infrastructure.Next.

The idea for Infrastructure.Next is to focus on "the future of the datacenter," whether that be specific technologies, best practices, or culture that will enable teams to adapt and evolve as needed.

From CentOS to Containers to DevOps Culture

What's the optimal length for a talk? These days, more and more events are settling on 30-minute talks for high-level concept talks. An hour is, truly, a daunting amount of time to fill – and with some preparation and practice, most speakers can distill their ideas and content into a 30-minute talk that will be more likely to retain the audience's attention. So, with one or two exceptions, we set the time limit to 30 minutes for the speakers, with good results.

What a group of speakers we had, too! The day kicked off with CentOS contributor Jim Perrin, who walked through the recent changes in the CentOS community and a preview of what people could expect from CentOS in the near future. (Not to mention, how they can get involved directly to help influence CentOS and be part of the community.)

David Nalley of Citrix and a PMC member for Apache CloudStack gave an excellent talk on the operational requirements for cloud. This was an interesting contrast to Brian Proffitt's talk immediately after, which asked whether cloud was really necessary for every organization. Had we a bit more time, it would have been interesting to put Proffitt, Nalley, and a few other speakers on a panel for their views on where data centers are (or should be) going this year.

Data centers do not live by IaaS alone, though. Diane Mueller finished the morning talks with a discussion about PaaS, specifically OpenShift, and the benefits it confers for organizations.

Michael Ducy of Chef was on hand to reprise his talk from the London Cloud Summit, "The Road to Hybrid Cloud is Paved with Automation." As in London, Ducy's talk inspired quite a bit of conversation – though it was a bit more difficult to engage the audience in the much larger room.

We also had a few good down-and-dirty technical talks on using specific technologies, courtesy of Doron Fediuck and Rich Bowen. Fediuck explained how to extend oVirt to fit your needs, with a couple of fun examples. Bowen discussed the importance of measurement and explained how to use OpenStack Ceilometer, which also kicked off some interesting discussions on monitoring and the right way to use such tools.

John Mark Walker and Sam Kottler had interesting talks that looked at emerging technologies. Walker, community leader for Gluster, discussed the future of data management, while Kottler looked at the changes in application deployment and how containerization is going to influence app deployment.

Leslie Hawthorn, community manager for Elasticsearch, discussed how organizations could apply DevOps principles for "happier, more productive people." Not in terms of "if you're practicing DevOps, you'll have happier people," but actually using the principles around working with people in your organization. It was an approach I hadn't previously considered, but it certainly made sense.

The closing talk for Infrastructure.Next came from Fedora Project Leader Robyn Bergeron, "You won't believe the amazing things you ALREADY KNOW about DevOps from working in an open source community!" The tongue-in-cheek Upworthy-styled title aside, it was a really solid discussion and a great close for a long day of talks.

Many Thanks

The event was sponsored by Red Hat, but would also not have been possible without the cooperation of our hosts from the University College Gent and the CfgMgmtCamp organizers. The facilities were top-notch, and everything went off without a hitch thanks to their assistance.

Is Bigger Better?

Contrasted with the London Cloud Summit the audience was a tad more subdued. No doubt, part of this was due to event fatigue. After three or four days of conferences, the spirit may be willing, but the flesh is just barely getting by on coffee and sheer willpower.

But, more than that, a larger crowd and larger room plays against the feeling of intimacy required to have a really good interaction. As we plan more events for 2014, we need to find a sweet spot between reaching the most people and ensuring that those in attendance are deeply engaged and getting the most out of the event.

Next Stop, Los Angeles

If you missed Infrastructure.Next in Ghent, or just didn't get enough the first time out, you can sign up for Infrastructure.Next @ SCALE. Co-located with SCALE 12x, tickets are free but registration is required. Sign up today!

We're also looking to co-locate Infrastructure.Next with other events. If you have an event we should consider, please get in touch!