Since the first meeting in 2016, the Sheffield DevOps meet-up has been the go-to place for people working in sysadmin and DevOps to get together, socialise and learn. As the community re-builds Sheffield’s meet-up scene following the pandemic, we’re delighted that the DevOps meeting continues to thrive. Their next meet-up is scheduled on Thursday 8th September at 6pm at Sheffield Technology Parks with speaker Tom Hoyland, an expert Agile and DevOps practitioner, coach, and mentor at Sky Betting & Gaming and That Agile. It’s open to anyone, regardless of experience, and promises to be an enlightening event. You can book your place here. We caught up with meet-up organiser Oliver Leaversmith to find out what makes the meet-up special and why you should check it out.
Tell me about Sheffield Devops – what is it, who is it for, and how long has it been running?
Sheffield DevOps is a meetup focusing on the subject of DevOps. Devops is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices and tools that increases an organisation’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity. Our events are free to attend, and open to anyone regardless of experience or background. We held our first meetup at Union St. in February 2016, and have been meeting roughly monthly since then.
What can people expect at your events?
Our events start in the early evening allowing enough time for those that don’t work in Sheffield centre to get to the venue, and for those that do enough time to grab something to eat beforehand. There will be one or two speaker slots, usually about 40 minutes each, covering the topics of technology, people and organisations. This could be in the form of a presentation, open space discussion, or a series of lightning talks. We always leave time for questions and discussion after each talk.
What were your key principles when setting up the events? Have these changed or developed at all as you’ve gone on?
We wanted to bring the community together in Sheffield. Back in 2015 the tech community really started to thrive, with places like Home Office Digital and Sky Betting and Gaming establishing their presence here. We felt the sysadmin/DevOps community was quite isolated and wanted to create an event where we could give people the chance to socialise and learn, while providing these companies an opportunity to host our events and showcase themselves.
What did you do to get the meetup off the ground in the first place? What was attendance like for those first few events?
A group of us came together on the Sheffield Digital Slack, met in the Rutland for a kick-off conversation helpfully facilitated by Saul Cozens and we held our first event at the beginning of 2016. The first event was packed – we probably got 60 or so for that one. We had up to 80 in the first year, it really hit the ground running. Our timing was spot on. We have to give a shout-out to Andy Burgin from Leeds DevOps who was instrumental in helping us get going too.
Do you get a lot of regulars returning, or are there new people all the time?
There are certainly those who never miss an event, but really we have a mixture of new and returning members. Especially since properly restarting after lockdown, seeing as there are a number of people who have started working in the industry in Sheffield over the past few years who haven’t had a chance to attend any meetups.
Did you keep running the events over lockdown? If so, how did conducting them remotely change what you were able to do, and how does it feel to come back in person?
We ran a virtual event during lockdown with two fantastic speakers which we streamed live. Remote attendance was good, and audience participation was there. Having tested the waters with streaming events, we knew that we wanted to incorporate this into our meetups when we returned to normality. Now we stream each event and open the floor to questions from the stream too. It has worked well and we see good numbers on the stream both live and on demand.
What do you think of Sheffield’s meetup scene? Are you a fan of any other meetups?
Sheffield had a thriving meetup scene before the pandemic, and it seems that it is slowly getting back to what it once was. It would be a shame to completely lose the community, but hybrid working makes it difficult to guarantee attendance as we could before. We used to attend Agile Sheffield and did a joint meetup with them with over 100 attendees.
How can people find out more
Via our website www.sheffielddevops.org.uk, on Twitter @sheffieldDevops, searching Sheffield Devops on YouTube to see past events, emailing email@example.com, and in the #sheffielddevops channel on the Sheffield Digital Slack workspace.