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How to Engage 4,000 Developers in One Day

Nov 15, 2019 6:00:00 AM By Mark Miller, ADDO markus-spiske-466ENaLuhLY-unsplash

When Derek Weeks and I started All Day DevOps in 2016, we were unsure as to whether anyone would be interested. It's now four years later. Last week we had close to 37,000 people register for the event. We're still trying to wrap our head around the scale of something that generates a world wide audience in the tens of thousands for a 24 hour conference.

One of the things that has grown organically from All Day DevOps is a concept called "Viewing Parties". It's an idea the community has created, not something planned by us. Over 170 organizations, meetups or user groups around the world setup a large screen and invited colleagues and friends over to share in the DevOps journeys that were being told throughout the day. Last year, we heard through the grapevine that State Farm had over 600 people show up to participate at their viewing party in Dallas. That's 600 people internally at State Farm.

When I heard about it, I knew I had to speak with Kevin O'Dell, Technology Director and DevOps Advocate at State Farm, the person who coordinated the event. Our initial conversation was a fascinating view into how he pulled off such a large event, internally. We kept in touch throughout the year, leading up to 2019 All Day DevOps. Keeping track of the registrations for Kevin, he soon came to realize what he had created was now a viral event at State Farm. For 2019, State Farm had 4000 of their 6000 developers confirmed to attend All Day DevOps. To me, that's just remarkable.

While at the DevOps Enterprise Summit last month, Kevin and I sat down to talk about how he created such an incredible event, the process for getting business buy-in, and how he measures the value of letting 4000 developers collectively watch videos for the day. Even if I wasn't one of the co-founders of All Day DevOps, I'd find this a fascinating story. Stay with us and I think you'll be impressed, too.

Photo by Markus Spiske