A Fox's Experience at DevOpsDays Cuba

I've been meaning to write up an article about my experiences in Cuba for DevOpsDays Cuba for a while now.  It would have been the first article I posted, but it had to take a backseat to my re:Invent guide as the AWS conference was just around the corner.  Better late than never, though, right?

So, from October 23-26, I was honored to be selected as a speaker for DevOpsDays Cuba.  I will admit that I didn't know what to expect going into it.  In fact, I was just as surprised to hear that they even had a DevOpsDays conference there.  Leading up to the conference, I had this conversation many times over:

Me:  I'll be speaking at DevOpsDays Cuba next week.
Someone else:  That's cool.  I'm sure you'll have lots of...  Wait.  Did you say Cuba?
Me:  I know!  Right?!?
I was quite perplexed.  Why would there be any need at all to talk about DevOps in Cuba?  I thought that it was a country shielded from much outside influence.  But, I figured there was an adventurer in me, and this was an opportunity for me to showcase my new presentation material, DevOps Archeology, so I went.  Let me be clear about this.  I'm so glad I went.  This trip turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened for my professional spirit.

Right from the very moment my flight touched down in Santa Clara, Cuba, I knew that I was in a different world.  It's been a long time since I flew into an airport where the plane parked next to the terminal rather than pulling up to it.

Right away after exiting the airport, I saw so many things that shocked and amazed me.  I saw things that made me laugh and things that made me shrug.  However, my biggest initial observation was the state of technology...I am a geek after all.  Internet connectivity was slow and very, very sparse.  Even staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts in Cuba didn't really grant any network access.  You can buy a card with Internet time, but it was still only available at select locations, and it wasn't the best and most stable connection I've ever seen.  Even in the hotel, you could only get onto the network in the hotel lobby.

Wow.  Right from the start of the conference, the local DevOps professionals were asking tough questions.  Whether it be during the speaker's panel or in the open spaces or just friendly chatter in between presentations, the audience didn't pull punches.  They asked all of the hard questions.  I quickly learned that while the audience wasn't armed with the latest Intel processors or fiber connections in places that are super convenient, they didn't let that stop them.  They were tackling the very same problem sets that I was hitting back home...and they loved it.

My amazement didn't end there.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that one of the fellow speaker colleagues local to the area, Manuel Morejón, was a Docker Captain.  Let's put this in perspective.  There are only 59 Docker Captains worldwide, and one of them was in Cuba!!  Have I mentioned the Internet connectivity there?  Let that sink in for a while about what kind of determination and dedication it would take to be a Docker Captain in Cuba.

Our conference organizers even made our lack of Internet go away during the day while we were at the conference.  I heard some pretty amazing stories about how they did that.  I honestly don't think that I could have pulled off that miracle if I were in their shoes.

Throughout all of my time at DevOpsDays Cuba, I was very impressed with everyone's energy, dedication, and passion.  Look at the selfie I took before my DevOps Archeology talk.  You can feel the energy in the room.  It was great!

Oh, one last note about my Cuban experience.  Every local I met was very courteous, generous, and kind.  I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to spend a week with.

By the end of this trip, I returned to the U.S. with not just a stash of Cuban cigars and a bottle of Cuban rum, but I brought back many friendships and warm memories with me.  Even more, I brought back a little of that Cuban spirit.  I was reminded that you can do great things even if you don't have the best materials to work with.  All it takes it a little ingenuity, some grit, and a lot of passion and dedication.

So, this trip really ended up rejuvenating my spirit.  It really reminded me to not give up on my endeavors even if I don't have all of the resources I need.  There is a downside to my trip, though, and that comes from the perspective of my team in the office.  The very first thing I relayed to them when I got back to the office was that our list of excuses for not engaging on, and completing a project just got smaller.  Why is that?  Cuba.


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