Global DevOps Bootcamp Write-up & Registration Process

Write-up of the event

On June 15th, it was Global DevOps Bootcamp time! (#GDBC is an event-out-of-the-box that is all about DevOps! This year’s theme “you build it you run away it”. This 3rd GDBC focused on the run-part of DevOps. In this full-day event, we saw a (recorded) keynote by Naill Murphy, Mr. Site Reliability Engineering himself! Every venue followed this keynote with a local keynote, in Hilversum Xpirit Venue this was delivered by Xpirit CTO Marcel de Vries, conveniently being the CEO of Parts Unlimited too!

After these keynotes, teams were formed and then they are introduced to their challenges of the day. All challenges started with a video and had step by step guidance. The participants had to keep their site up and running! Nobody wants to be out-of-business right? Unfortunately, the GDBC Core Team was in control of the infrastructure and was able to create different kinds of havoc to them. Participants applied a quick fix to minimize downtime and then worked on a more permanent solution. The main goal is to learn participants to Detect, Respond, and Recover. To make the learning stick they created a post-mortem to share it.

In between these challenges, participants had the opportunity to have lunch, and techies-alike, we had to force them to go while they got hooked to their job to keep their site online! They were full of energy to complete more challenges! At the end of the day we asked each team to elaborate on their learnings and share them with the other teams! The winning team got a voucher for Jeffrey Palermo’s new e-book sponsored by Clear-Measure. But they also won a highly appreciated Xpirit #DoEpicShit-shirt!

GDBC 2019 Xpirit Hilversum Winning Team

GDBC Event Registration

Organizing a global event like GDBC, for approximately 90 venues around the globe, requires lots of preparation. In this post, I will elaborate some more on the registration process.

It all starts with a Google Form, containing a ton of fields. For every venue that wants to be hosting a GDBC we need information about;
⁃ Geographical details
⁃ Primary and secondary organizer details
⁃ Venue (location) details
⁃ Organizer Profile details

With all this information we periodically export the forms to a CSV data format to process the new entries. This is not automated while the data requires manual parsing while the Google Form does not allow for very strict validation. We will probably improve on this next year! Next, we need to add additional timezone information to be able to add the summer time corrected start time for every event. Another not so convenient characteristic of the Eventbrite REST API. It does not allow you to say start at 10:00 AM till 17:00 PM on that location while you are not in that local timezone.

The GDBC Core Team has crafted a library of PowerShell scripts to process the updated CSV files towards creating Eventbrite events automatically. These events then also have detailed venue information as well as organizer information and a tailored description for the local event.

For local event organizers to update and verify Eventbrite content and keeping track of their “tickets sold” (mind you GDBC is a FREE event) we need to provide the organizers with access to Eventbrite. As we don’t want to hand out our “master account” to every venue we can make use of the Co-Admin functionality. By specifying an e-mail address and selecting a specific venue we can give each organizer access to its event. Sounds simple but there are some caveats here.

  1. The Eventbrite API does not have a method for adding Co-Administrators.
    To overcome these issues, we have decided to take a new approach. Together with my colleague Rob Bos we created a Selenium UI Test that automates the adding of the Co-Admin User for their venue. We added this to a Console Application that allowed us to run it whenever we needed and even from an Azure DevOps pipeline.
  2. Specifying an e-mail address validates that the e-mail address is unique for Eventbrite.
    This checks simply forces most of your organizers to come up with a new e-mail address while they use the platform more often! To address the e-mail issue we decided to create an Azure VM on which we installed an e-mail service called hMailServer. I used it years ago and it still is super easy to create a mail server without hassle. I added a custom domain to it and one catch-all account. This allows you to receive all the e-mail in one box and without having to create users for everyone. We don’t require a mailbox for our organizers.

When you add a Co-Admin to an Eventbrite event, you get an e-mail to confirm the account and you need to activate the account by specifying a password. As the primary person for maintaining the registrations, I could intercept these activation e-mails and activate each easily. Although quite some clicking and tedious work.

A huge learning from the previous years is that email is a bad channel for keeping everyone posted. It basically pins just a couple of people to fix all communication. We love to have more people respond and not having to answer the same questions again and again. Thus we decided to use Slack for all primary communication.

After the Eventbrite registration is completed we want to send out one e-mail to provide organizers with general instructions on where to find more detailed information in Slack as well as there generated user account and password. We added a new option to our “swiss-army-knife” Console Application to be able to send these e-mails to registered event organizers.

Next to sending the email we need to invite them to Slack as well. Again, I love slack, but user management is really crappy. We can’t easily kick everybody out of it and then just add them again when needed. And there is no API call to easily invite users. Thus we need to do manual actions here too.

Once that’s done we push out the registration information out to an Azure SQL database. This way we can re-use the data and enrich it to be able to create teams and add provisioning details for the required Azure resources.

With all these steps the registration process is complete were able to get all 200+ local organizers informed and allow approximately 10000 attendees register for Global DevOps Bootcamp!

A “behind the scenes” video of this process can be found here. And even more here!

Find detailed information on the event on https://globaldevopsbootcamp.com/ and learn from the challenges through https://www.gdbc-challenges.com/

To get a feel of the world-wide scale and impressions see this gathering of 1000+ pictures from #GDBC tweets!

A big thanks to the all other GDBC Core team members and sponsors!

GDBC 2019 Thank You

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.