2016 Sitecore Symposium – Day Three Recap

This week has been an overload of information! Hard to think that Symposium is all wrapped up now, but it was a great time meeting old friends and new ones and enjoying many things that New Orleans has to offer. A great week provided to us by the team at Sitecore!

The day started with Jane McGonigal bringing us to the world of gamification (and a lot of Pokemon Go). We struggle every day with a basic premise that has been drilled into us: the opposite of play is work. However, as the keynote informed us: “The opposite of play isn’t work – it’s depression.”

So how do we address this depression? The session spoke of many things, but the key is that we need to reverse engineer the brain to remember that something good could happen. The Pokemon Go team, and other gaming groups, understand this well with the concepts of letting the gamer always wonder about what’s around the corner. Can we leverage this with how we design our digital experiences? Can we gain more engagement with our customers by designing a web flow that keeps them wondering what else there might be around the corner?

I really enjoyed this session and the “Think like Uber” portion was incredibly eye opening. Uber isn’t looking to make a buck off of a ride-share program, they are in the business of accustoming us to not driving. We are looking forward to fleets of self-driving vehicles and a populace increasingly comfortable with not purchasing cars or even needing a license to drive. Self-driving trucks will eliminate the dependency on human truck drivers for long-haul transport. This isn’t just disruption of the taxi industry, this is disruption of the entire transportation economy. Thought-provoking stuff…

Lean deployments to Azure

The session by Joe Bissol on executing lean Sitecore deployments was really full, to the point that new chairs needed to be added to handle the overflow. In order to execute efficiently, the output of each step in the process needs to be optimized input for the next. What should we consider?

  • Can you roll back?
  • Do you have automated acceptance tests?
  • Can you trigger push-button deployments?
  • Can you build deployment packages?
  • Is there a way to validate the quality of the code and the content?

Joe was nice enough to share his repository from his demo full of scripts and demo solutions:

https://github.com/BissTalk/sitecore-symposuim-2016

In the scenario shown to us, Joe is using the following tools to accomplish their delivery flow:

  • PhantomJS taking screenshots in the background
  • TDS packaging content
  • TeamCity executing builds
  • OctopusDeploy releasing to the server
  • NuGet for downloading Sitecore and all other references

I really like the sample site that was deployed, very geek-friendly. 😉

Sitecore Azure Deployments

George Chang and Tim McCarthy decided that we should just be amazed. ARM templates configured and generating VMs on the fly. DSCs making sure environments were configured correctly. Custom extensions with environment/client-specific configurations, usually a powershell script.

Oh, and Visual Studio Team Services. These guys use it for EVERYTHING! (Along with a lot of other tools) to enable their Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery.

“There should be two tasks for a human being to perform to deploy software… to pick the version and environment and to press the “deploy” button.”

― David Farley, Continuous Delivery

From http://www.logicworks.net/blog/2016/05/cloud-devops-automation-aws-codedeploy/

Habitat is a Demo

That is all. 😉 No, but seriously, Sean rocked it as usual and showed us way too much stuff in too short a time.

Geeking out on xDB

I wrapped up the breakout sessions by attending my colleague Amanda’s talk on leveraging xDB alongside her partner Courtney from the Rotman School of Business. They did a great job on explaining the use of machine learning to parse through xDB data and begin planning personalization approaches based on accumulated visitor data and pattern tracking.

The Nonlinear crew was out in full force, handing out the Nonlinear Sitecore book to all attendees. (Let us know if you didn’t get one!) Congratulations to Amanda and Courtney on a job well done!

Wrapping things up

The final Keynote by Lars Neilsen tied a nice bow on all the things folks had seen throughout the Symposium with the tale of Jake, the man with the Nerf Gun and a need for some more ammo. And a SmellOVision. 😉 The tone was almost anti-climactic after some of the high-energy performances we’d seen, but it was very well-rehearsed and smooth and a good cool-down after all the excitement.

The Nonlinear team finished off the evening with a nice dinner at Bacchanal. When we arrived, I was a little scared. We were surrounded by dark, shifty-looking residential area, what looked to be an abandoned train, and a definitely abandoned naval intelligence base, complete with barbed wire. Is this the right address?

Inside, however, was a wonderful restaurant with great food, wine, and music. The team had a blast!

From here we ventured to Frenchman Street, which I hadn’t managed to visit last year, so that was great. By complete accident, we wound up at a bar with some fellow Sitecorians and one of the amazing bands that had played at the House of Blues the night before. Awesome!

I retired earlier than the rest of the crew, but was informed there was some great fun had at the Cat’s Meow. I saw some video of Rodrigo’s performance and wish I hadn’t missed it!

Goodbye New Orleans, we will miss you. Here’s looking forward to Sitecore Symposium 2017 in Las Vegas!

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