A look at our biggest SRE[in]con yet

November 14, 2019

Co-authors: Todd Palino, Samir Jafferali, Kurt Andersen, and Carolyn Blood

LinkedIn hosted its 4th annual SRE[in]con conference in late October that brought together over 700 LinkedIn site engineers, as well as partners from Microsoft, Github, Drawbridge and Glint, for more than 60 talks, workshops, and main stage keynotes. The purpose? To provide engineers across our Site Engineering organization an opportunity to learn from each other. As our site engineering organization continues to grow, it’s important that we connect face to face with our teammates from around the globe.

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LinkedIn SRE[in]con group photo

Day 1: Workshops

On the first day of the conference, we stayed on-site at LinkedIn for workshop sessions. These workshops allowed engineers to deep dive into technologies that they may not interact with on a daily basis. We had nine different workshops available to attendees ranging from a Microsoft Azure bootcamp to a Java performance profiling deep-dive to a workshop on newer Linux capabilities, like eBPF.

Between the morning and afternoon sessions, our Women in Site Engineering (WiSE) group held a panel on “Evolving Culture.” The panel was well received by all attending and highlighted the importance of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, as well as actionable steps on fostering positive conversations and behavior within teams.

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Panelists from the “Evolving Culture” session: Tanvi Kolte, Kevin Krawez, Cesar Gama, Ashi Sareen, Zonia Harris, Chelsea Valentine 

Day 2

The remainder of the conference we met offsite and kicked off with a keynote from VP of Site Engineering Bruno Connelly. He talked about LinkedIn’s journey from scrappy startup to hyper growth platform to where we are today, focused on building capabilities and efficiency for the long term. Within this context, he reflected on how the SRE organization has evolved into a function that’s seen as a vital partner to the business. He also called out the strong partnership we have with our data science team that enables us to stay ahead of LinkedIn’s demand curve in novel and effective ways.

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A slide from Bruno’s talk about the evolution of the SRE role. To learn more about these five stages, see a past talk from Ben Purgason. 

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Bruno Connelly presenting his keynote.

Bruno then handed it over to Site Engineering Director Sandhya Ramu for a fireside chat with Fatima Kardar, chief technology advisor to Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott. The conversation covered topics about how Fatima found her role at Microsoft and how to encourage young women to pursue STEM fields of work.

Sandyha Ramu (left) & Fatima Kardar (right) during their fireside chat.

The afternoon session included a series of talks from our House Security team and deep dives on some of our internal technologies, while Joshua Briefman explored the “Mythos of Vertical Scaling” and REACH apprentice Jessica Koscheka talked about what it was like to prepare to go oncall. 

Day 3

The third and final day continued with more long-form sessions and lightning talks. Developing our approach as a team and broadening our awareness of the importance of inclusiveness were key themes throughout the conference. Some highlights included:

  • “Improving Team Productivity Using Agile Methodologies” by Arjit Bhandari, who reiterated how we, as engineers, need to spend more time thinking about the “why” of our projects and the positive impact they can have for our members and company before we dive into the “how” and “what.” 
  • “Cultural Nuance and Effective Collaboration for Multicultural Teams” by Ayyappadas Ravindran, who talked about the different cultures a global team brings to the table and how we each think differently about how we present and receive information. He reminded us that global teams need low context processes and communications as the common denominator, a concept introduced in anthropology book Beyond Culture.
  • “Unconscious Bias & El Niño - Acknowledging and addressing bias at work without having to fly into the face of every storm” by Jamie Henderson, exploring strategies for actively addressing microaggressions in a positive way, ensuring individuals can get the credit they deserve, and bringing coworkers on board as allies.
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A collection of pictures of SRE[in]con speakers. 

For the final session, Bruno Connelly again took to the stage to host a fireside chat with Jonathan Heiliger, an internet pioneer. The conversation covered a range of topics, including war stories from the early days of the internet, the growth of the internet, and Jonathan’s personal approach to investing.

Jonathan Heiliger (left) with his support dog Oreo and Bruno Connelly (right) during their fireside chat. 

The conference concluded with a happy hour that included a surprise guest performance from Sr SRE Manager Jacob Davida’s band, The Sound Accord.

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The Sound Accord playing at the end of the conference


Overall, the conference provided a great opportunity for the whole Site Engineering organization to learn, grow, and connect. Additionally, for the second year running, we invited some engineers from internal partner teams to all three days of the conference. We provide this opportunity as it helps them connect to the culture of how SRE operates and gives them insight into some of our best practices and key initiatives for the year ahead. 

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SRE[in]con core committee. 

SRE[in]con could not be possible without our core committee members: Samir Jafferali, Michael Kehoe, Carolyn Blood, Kurt Andersen, and Todd Palino. We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the program committee members and all of the speakers who took time to build content for us all to learn from. A special thanks to Fatima and Jonathan for their time and sharing their stories and advice with us.