2011 in Review

The holidays are a busy time for me. I was hoping to get this written before the end of the year but it didn’t happen.

I can say, wihtout a doubt, that 2011 has been the most awesome year both professionally and personally in my life. And I have pretty much everyone else to thank for it.

Some special shoutouts

There are so many folks to thank for this year. I owe so many beers that I can’t keep count. I can’t possibly thank everyone but I want to throw a few special shoutouts to folks.

My wife

Why she puts up with my shit, I’ll never know. Needless to say, without her this year would have been radically different. She managed two toddlers by herself on almost every trip I took. She’s been nothing but encouraging and she also helps keep me grounded by reminding me what’s important.

Patrick DeBois

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to help with the DevOps Days events. Through the events I’ve met some of the most amazing people in the world. The DevOps community is a wonderful group of folks and I would never have met half of them if Patrick hadn’t given me the opportunity to participate.

Vertical Acuity

While I’m sad to be leaving friends behind, VA was amazing in letting me travel so much. Not only that but they trusted and valued my opinion on so many things. Whoever takes my place will be lucky to work with such an awesome group of folks.

John Willis

Not only for being a good friend but for giving me an opportunity to work with him at enStratus.

Luke Kanies, James Turnbull, Jose Palafox and the Puppet Labs crew

Puppet Labs gets double the thanks - for giving me the opportunity to talk about my project at PuppetConf and also for sponsoring me to travel to Goteborg and speak. The whole crew over there is amazing.

Damon Edwards, Alex Honor and DTO Solutions

I’m grateful to DTO for giving me the opportunity to attend Velocity and letting me be a booth babe. Damon and Alex both have been forces of awesome for the DevOps community.

John Christian

John asked me early on to help with the Atlanta DevOps meetups and I’m glad he did. He stands alone in the corporate bullshit world of the financial services industry. He tought me a lot and I want to thank him for it.

Mandi Walls

For being pretty much awesome by listening to my ranting, letting me bounce ideas off her. And for being my sister from another mother.

Seth Chisamore

For the various lunches, talks, introductions and meetup involvement. Local folks rock. Seth rocks.

Jordan Sissel

For being awesome, down to earth and not an asshole. And for all the code. And for giving me the honor of contributing to SysAdvent.

Kelsey Hightower

For helping me navigate my foray into the world of Python (technically that was a few years ago). Also for showing folks how to just get shit done.

Everyone else

I can’t possible fit everyone here’s an abbreviated list of folks, in no specific order, who have impacted me this year off the top of my head. If I leave you off, please don’t take offense. I’m shooting from the cuff here.

Bradley Taylor, Will Farrington, Corey Haines, Tim Dysinger, Joe Miller, Mathias Meyer, Vladimir Vuksan, Adam Jacob, Sean Porter, Tony Arcieri, R.I. Pienaar, Adam Fletcher, Anthony Goddard, Joe Williams, Brad Anderson, Cat Muecke (alas, Cat does not tweet!), Harlan Barnes, Wesley Beary, Mitchell Hashimoto, Wayne Seguin, Dan DeLeo, Josh Timberman, Noah Kantrowitz, Andrew Clay Schafer, Mark Imbriaco, Stephen Nelson-Smith, Gareth Rushgrove, Ian Meyer, Devdas Bhagat, Martin Jackson, Michael Leinartas, Kris Buytaert, Brandon Burton, Al Tobey, Matthew Jones, Julian Simpson, Jason Cook, Jos Boumans, Susan Potter, Thom May, Kit Plummer, Sascha Bates, Bob Martin, Bryan Horstmann-Allen, Benjamin W. Smith, Ches Martin, Jason Dixon, Phil Hollenback, Nate St. Germain, Scott Smith, Sean Cribbs, Andy Gross, Ben Rockwood, James Casey, Les Hazlewood, Allan Ditzel, Marius Ducea, Noah Campbell, Tim Anglade, Corey Donohoe, Matt Simmons, Ernest Mueller, Lindsay Holmwood, Christian Paredes, Brice Figureau, Grig Gheorghiu, Darrin Eden, Shay Banon, Ramon Van Alteren and so many others.

Software that changed my world

I also wanted to give a shoutout to a few projects that pretty much changed how I thought about the software world around me.


ElasticSearch has beeen, bar none, in my top two amazing things the past year. Having first heard about it via Logstash, when I started digging in it blew my mind. The one thing that amazed me most about ES was the Zen discovery. It’s like the first time you heard about consistent hashing. It’s one of those things that makes you say “how the fuck did I not think of this first?”. The other thing that I find awesome is that ES not only makes scaling up painless but scaling DOWN (which is the hard part) is just as easy. As a sysadmin, ElasticSearch has been the most pleasant bit of infrastructure I’ve ever had the pleasure of standing up.


The other thing that amazed me this year was 0mq. 0mq essentially makes the difficult and next to impossible things possible. I am not lying when I say that every project I have floating around in my head is either built around or has a perfect spot for 0mq. Along with ElasticSearch, it has fundamentally changed how I think about software, infrastructure and more.

Apache ZooKeeper

While I’m not a fan of ZooKeeper on several levels, It would be wrong to totally ignore it. For the longest time, ZK stood alone in what it provided. People are building amazing things with it and it inspired me to write Noah.


At first I was pretty dismissive of Logstash. Mainly because I didn’t have a real need. Then I started digging in and realized that Logstash is only tangentially about logs. Logstash is kind of what you always wanted a pipe to be. Arbitrary input, arbitrary filtering, arbitrary output. The use cases for logstash are so much greater when you stop thinking about logs and start thinking about moving data.

Erlang, OTP and Riak

While my Erlang only extends to passable reading, via Riak, I found a desire to learn more about it. The biggest thing that stuck in my head and also changed the way I think is the Actor model. For the first time that I can remember, a concept made perfect sense to me. While learning Erlang in earnest is a goal for 2012, I think about how simple and understandable the Actor model was.


Following up on the Actor model, I have mad respect for Tony Arcieri. If you look back at his projects, they all follow a similar theme: improving the concurrency story on Ruby. He’s tenacious and passionate about something that most people would have (and if they’re arrogant dickfaces) laughed at by now. Celluloid brings some amazing functionality to Ruby inspired by Erlang and OTP. I find myself defaulting to it whenever I need to even think about concurrency in Ruby. Even outside of that, it encourages good behaviour with threads and reduces the chances you’ll fuck something up. The companion project, DCell, is something I’m itching to work with as well.

Statsd and Graphite

If this past year was about anything, it was about metrics. Lots and lots of metrics. Etsy pushed out statsd and brought metrics collection to the masses. Coda Hale gave an amazing talk on metrics and released the code to back it up. Shooting in the dark sucks. You need numbers. Collect ALL the metrics.

Final Thoughts

The world of open source and the community around devops is amazing. I learned from and met so many people in 2011. I’m hoping that 2012 is the year that I can give back to them in some small way. Thanks to everyone for making this past year amazing.