Build resilient systems at scale
28–30 October 2015 • Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Designing good infrastructure tools

James Turnbull (Empatico)
11:50–12:30 Thursday, 29/10/2015
Location: G106/107
Average rating: ***..
(3.95, 41 ratings)

Prerequisite Knowledge



Docker has been one of the runaway successes in infrastructure tools. Some of that is hype, but Docker has seen huge adoption by both developers and operations people. For many organizations this is the first time development and operations groups have mutually adopted and agreed upon a tool. This talk aims to discuss why that is, and what developers of future infrastructure tools can learn from Docker’s success.

This isn’t a talk about marketing or about using Docker. It’s a talk about the lessons we’ve learned from building developer and sysadmin-facing tools. It’s applicable to open source tools for broader use and the tools you and your teams develop inside your organization.

The talk will cover:

  • Why Docker worked
  • How to identify the right tool(s) to build
  • Why solving workflow problems wins out
  • How user experience matters
  • Why user interfaces are hard
  • How and when to test, iterate, and build

Building tools, both external and internal, is hard. Getting people to adopt those tools is even harder. These are ideas to help build tools your teams will love and evangelize.

Photo of James Turnbull

James Turnbull


James Turnbull is the CTO of Empatico. A longtime member of the open source community, James is the author of 10 technical books about open source software: The Terraform Book, The Art of Monitoring, The Logstash Book, The Docker Book, Pro Puppet, Pulling Strings with Puppet, Pro Linux System Administration, Pro Nagios 2.0, and Hardening Linux. He was formerly CTO at Kickstarter and an advisor at Docker. James likes food, wine, books, photography, and cats. He is not overly keen on long walks on the beach or holding hands.