ServerlessDays Helsinki 2019 – The Aftermath

ServerlessDays Helsinki was organized the first time ever last week, on April 25th. I had both the honor to be invited to be one of the members of the core team of event organizers and also accepted to talk at the event.

The first steps and idea conceived by Marcia Villalba to have a ServerlessDays in Finland was conceived some time in the spring of 2018. I have been working together with Marcia as community leads in AWS User Group Finland meetup for some time, so when the core team extended an invitation, it was an easy decision for me to accept.

The Core Team

It’s always fun to work with talented professionals, so it was fun to get the chance to work with these great people from other front line companies in Finland: Marcia Villalba from Rovio and running the excellent Foo Bar Youtube channel, Mikael Puittinen and Johanna Olamo from Nordcloud, Pasi Niemi from Nitor, Mahdi Azarboon from Accenture and Karl Ots from Zure.

Mikael and Marcia – opening words

Great people, which I can now consider peers and friends, even if we are sometimes also on opposing sides of the table as competitors.

The Sponsors

I’d like to personally also thank you all the sponsors, who made everything possible. It’s on their tab, that the tickets were made affordable and accessible by anyone. Also my employer Cybercom was one of the main sponsors, so thank you for the Cybercom leadership for trusting the idea and the cause.

The Rogues Gallery

We had a fine lineup of speakers, from domestic to foreign guests.

We had over 70 talks admitted before the deadline and it was a hard task to pick only a handful from that bunch of topics. The core team agreed on the criteria and grading and after careful discussion, we decided on the final lineup, which we thought represented diverse subjects in the field and made us feel that they were the kinds of talks, which the audience would be interested.

On the previous evening, the speakers started to arrive to Helsinki and we had a dinner together with all of the speakers and the core team to meet and greet – as we knew the following day would be a busy day for everyone.

Photo: Janne Sinivirta

You can find the Bios for each speaker at the ServerlessDays page, but here are all the people you saw on the stage at the event.

Unfortunately there was one last minute cancellation for personal reasons by the speaker, which were beyond our control. But I still feel that the lineup was awesome and generally the feedback I heard after the event has been super positive.

Event Day

Finally, the event day was here. The first attendees were on the doors already before 8:30 in the morning, when we were due to open the doors. Event venue was an old movie theater called BioRex in the city center of Helsinki. This was the first time for me to attend or organize an event on these premises, but everything worked fabulously and I see definitely opportunities in the future to leverage this space for upcoming events as well.

We had approximately 200 people joining us during the day, so for sure we can say that Serverless is a topic, which has a lot of interest and it is definitely growing. People want to generally move away from managing underlying infrastructure, wherever and whenever it is reasonable.

I was also on stage with my topic about Business Driven Availability in the last stint of the day. This is a topic, which I have been discussing in detail lately – and this was roughly the third iteration of the talk approach, that I’ve now had. This time more taking the approach from Serverless perspective, as was appropriate to the event.

The tagline of my talk was as follows:

This talk concentrates on understanding, what issues are at play, when operating on systems run on public clouds. This talk should get you thinking, why service levels are not supposed to be thought as a sequence of 9s, but how to take more holistic approach and how to think of investing in the resilience the correct amount before going live and running in production. Also it is equally important to understanding the human element, which is where most of the errors occur in any case and being able to minimize the impact and occurrence of the human based errors. The key takeaway in this talk is to understanding that everything can and will eventually fail and how to approach your design in such a way, that you are able to handle those situations gracefully.

You can find my slides by clicking on the image below:

Looking forward

As said, Serverless is here to stay. The one challenge in these types of events is that it easily gathers people with similar views, so not too much critical points were made against Serverless as an approach. That’s not saying that it’s without it’s challenges. Rather, we need to provide more discussion also from opposing points of view, so we can understand better, which are the patterns and anti-patterns, we should abide to.

But for sure, I’m certain that we will see this event next year also. With what team, where and when, that’s for sure a mystery still.

But stay tuned for news about that!