Large Installation System Administration Conference · USENIX LISA '12

December 18, 2012 - by joyentdeirdre

Brendan Gregg presenting at LISA '12

from Deirdré Straughan

I have attended/worked the USENIX LISA conferences since 2008, when I spent a day filming Richard Elling's day-long ZFS workshop. At LISA 2009, I filmed the Solaris Security Summit, plus an evening of other Solaris talks (including Ben Rockwood's ZFS in the Trenches - still useful!), and for once got in front of the camera myself for a chat with Ben. At LISA 2010, I helped organize, then single-handedly filmed and live streamed a full day summit on Oracle Solaris 11. That year I also attended Brendan Gregg's talk on Visualizations for Performance Analysis.

Last year I wasn't able to go; I hear that Oracle did another Solaris day, and we all know that Bryan Cantrill gave a provocative talk on illumos.

I had considered running a SmartOS/illumos Day at LISA this year, but the costs were simply too high for my budget - and, indeed, for the budgets of most open source projects. The problem has a lot to do with the venue. A hotel will rent you a conference space quite cheaply, and give your attendees a discount on their rooms - but then will contractually oblige you to pay ruinous prices for food and beverages. I'm sorry not to be able to support LISA, which has always been fun and useful for the Solarish family, but I'm getting better bang for my conference buck running events myself (dtrace.conf, illumos/ZFS Days) at a venue which allows me to do my own catering (or not).

Fortunately, Brendan was invited to speak at LISA this year, on "Performance Analysis Methodology" (slides here; video will be made available by USENIX, presumably here). I went along to share the drive and wear my community manager hat: meet people, live-tweet some talks, give out a few t-shirts and stickers, and talk about SmartOS and illumos. I enjoyed re-connecting with many folks I'd met over the years at LISA (some of them at other events as well - we're a small family, in the end), and meeting new ones. The evening cruise provided more opportunities to socialize.

During his talk, Brendan announced his forthcoming new book: "Systems Performance - Enterprise and the Cloud", due in 2013 from Prentice Hall. By happy coincidence, his second article in ACM Queue, Thinking Methodically about Performance, was also published that morning.

Theo Schlossnagle of OmniTI was also at LISA, speaking on their illumos distribution, OmniOS; I tweeted a few choice quotes:

  • "Using Solaris 10, I learned that I liked DTrace and Crossbow"
  • "The amount of business-ending events that have been averted by ZFS I cannot count on one hand anymore. I need ZFS. And I need open source."
  • "[After Oracle closed OpenSolaris], We were left with data centers built around zones, Crossbow, and ZFS. What do we switch to?"
  • "The fact that we couldn't see the Solaris 11 source was a handicap. We have to be able to fix stuff for our clients."
  • "We are cash flow positive on OmniOS today."
  • "With OmniOS on AWS, you can use DTrace to see how crazy slow Amazon is."
  • "We ship IPS as a package format. Why? Because ALL packaging systems suck."

Many thanks to USENIX for another good LISA, and we look forward to running into more of the LISA crowd at next year's LISA and other events!