IP EXPO Manchester, May 2016

This post was written by Jovile Bartkeviciute.

The annual IP EXPO Manchester event started with a bang. The Day 1 (18th May, 2016) was full of people, vendors, excitement and amazing speakers.  The keynote by the Dame Stella Rimington (the first woman to be appointed as the Director General of UK’s counter intelligence service, MI5 and the original “M”) interested so many people that half of the attendees could not fit into the main theatre, even with two smaller theatres broadcasting it live. For those lucky enough to get in, Dame Stella shared her career highlights and lessons learnt. Look for the recording once it is made available – it is worth a listen!



Exhibitors have been prepared to surprise and tried their best to attract the attention of the visitors: from the always useful notebooks, USB drives (love the one from ) to webcam covers (yes, it is a thing now – check out  stall if you do not have one for your laptop yet), socks, t-shirts, plush hedgehogs (I am still sad that I missed out on this), vintage games, almost real life bike rides and even make your own ice cream sundae!



There were six separate themes (Keynote – Unified Communications, DevOps, Data Analytics, Data Centre, Cyber Security, Cloud & Infrastructure) with 40+ talks happening on the day. Here are the few that I have managed to catch:


“Innovate Better through Machine Data Analytics” – Hal Rottenberg (Splunk)


Key points:

  • DevOps is a superset, not a subset.
  • Automation is key.
  • Everything you do manually is prone to error.
  • Machine data is the critical source of DevOps metrics.

The alternative title of the talk is better than the original:



“The Evolving Hyper Converged Software Stack: Virtual SAN – the story” – Duncan Epping (VMware)


Key Points:

  • Hardware revolution started with storage revolution.
  • A lazy admin is the best admin (everything should be automated).
  • Hyper-converged Infrastructure – a new IT model
  • Virtual Machines are first class citizens of the SDDC.
  • Hypervisor is the strategic high ground.
  • The cost of data went down, so the customers are looking at all flash data storage instead of hybrid like before – it became affordable.
  • VMware Virtual SAN – generic object storage platform


“Cloudy with a chance of breaches” – Joe Pindar (Gemalto)


Key points:

  • 10 years ago people were debating if smartphones and tablets can be used for business, we cannot guess what else we will be using to access sensitive data in the future
  • With the rise of IoT, you can find baby monitors just by doing a Google search
  • We are currently in a middle of massive digital disruption – we need to think of new ways how to secure sensitive data
  • You need to have Plan B if your data gets breached– encrypt everything sensitive
  • Be careful when migrating your data to a new system – you can accidentally make it public and thus available on Google.


“IBM Watson: Enhancing Human Knowledge with Artificial Intelligence” – Duncan Anderson (IBM Watson)


Key Points:

  • A child might find it easier to confide to a chat bot than a real person.
  • The idea is to train AI to understand human expressions in order to automate the interactions – you need to train the AI only once and then you will be able to use it through various channels
  • AI can recognise strong emotions via an online chat, however, currently, a customer would be transferred to a real person. In the future, the dialog could morph into a friendly coaching dialog.
  • Enhance, scale, and accelerate human expertise to empower all people, all roles. You cannot deploy a chatbot and expect it to answer 100% of the questions, here is where humans come in.


“Why should I adopt Continuous Delivery and where should I start?” – Nigel Harniman (CloudBees)


Key Points:

  • If you do not innovate – someone else will.
  • If it hurts – do it more often.
  • Need to deliver in small iterations and more frequently – you get fast feedback on your work, it is less risky.
  • Infrastructure as code.
  • Feature flags rather than feature branching.
  • There is no such thing as partial automation.


“Continuous Delivery anti-patterns from the wild” – Matthew Skelton (Skelton Thatcher Consulting)


Key Points:

  • Quite a few organization think they are a special case – turns out they are not.
  • “Need to have short, but wide pipelines”
  • Continuous Delivery != Continuous Deployment
  • Continuous Delivery anti-patterns:
    • #1 Not reading any of ‘Continuous Delivery’ book
      • Use the CD book
    • #2 Long and slow deployment pipelines
      • Short, wide pipelines
    • #3 “Continuous Delivery is not for us”
      • Deliver to a simulation environment
    • #4 No effective logging or application metrics
      • Aggregated logging + metrics
    • #5 No investment in build & deployment
      • Explicitly fund build & deployment
    • #6 Operational aspects not addressed well
      • Single backlog for all features
    • #7 Forgetting the database
      • Use a tool for DB changes + version control
    • #8 “Just plug in a deployment pipeline”
      • Re-architect for Continuous Delivery
    • #9 Container envy
      • Adopt good practices before using containers



Shared Technical Services in an Agile “Tribal” World – Rob Tuley (Sky Betting & Gaming)


Key points:

  • Shared services can give you a grumpy face, but it does not have to be like this
  • In a complex system – if you are not thinking about shared services, you are missing a trick.
  • Think organisationally “how” as well as technologically “what”.
  • Need to keep introducing more and more shared services.
  • There are number of different patterns to introducing shared services, namely:
    • Monopoly
    • Follow My Leader
    • Fork & Evolve
    • Celebrate Diversity
    • Eventual Consistency
    • Central Kickstart
    • Grow To Devolve
    • Co-operative


In addition to the talks, there were many other things happening as well: Cyber Hack lab showing live hacks, Tech Clinic offering free personalized consultancy, Live Lounge with Museum of Computing and Breakout Manchester and last but not least…. the Octoberfest! Beer, cakes, cocktails, britpong (?) and snacks from selected vendors were available throughout the exhibition hall. With so many talks and activities, IP EXPO have prepared an app to make planning the day easier as well, you can check it our here. All in all, the conference was fun, knowledgeable and well-organised.

Here are some tweets from the other attendees as well:



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