Southbridge with its Slurm is the only company in Russia that has a KTP certificate (Kubernetes Training Provider).
Slurm is one year old. During this time, 800 people went through our Kubernetes intensities. It's time to do memoirs.
September 9-11 in St. Petersburg, in the conference room Selectel will be the next Slurm , the fifth in a row. There will be an introduction to Kubernetes: each participant will create a cluster in the Selectel cloud and deploy the application there.
Under the cut - the story of Slurm, from the idea to the present day.
Pavel Selivanov at the opening of Slurm-4
And the Kubernetes burst
In 2014, the first version of Kubernetes was released. In 2018, hype rose in Russia: in Yandex, the number of Kubernetes requests increased from 1000 per month to 5000, during the negotiations this word sounded more often. The business had not yet believed in Kubernetes, but was already actively looking at it.
In 2018, we saw that Kubernetes is gaining momentum, and the company fully owns only a couple of people in it. Two people is much better than no one, but much less than we need. There are simply no decent courses on the market. Nowhere to send people. And we made the obvious decision: we do internal courses so that the masters teach the rest.
But you can’t just take and teach people. In Southbridge, everyone works remotely, you can’t get people in the office, they need to be transported from Chelyabinsk, Khabarovsk and Kaliningrad. Kubernetes is a complicated topic, you won’t master it in a couple of hours, and not everyone can postpone all things for a week.
And transferring knowledge is not so simple; you cannot sit in front of a webcam and put everything that you know into your colleagues’s heads. It is necessary to structure the material, plan a lecture, prepare a presentation, and come up with a practical task.
In order for the training to take place, it is necessary to prepare a program, rent a hotel, tear everyone out of the routine, put him in a conference room and use the express method to pump knowledge into your heads.
And if we rent a hotel and a conference room for our own people, why not sell a dozen places? Let's get some money back for the tickets.
So the idea of Slurm was born.
"Slurm-1": for the first time it always hurts
The concept of the first Slurm was constantly changing. We will hold it in the "Village of programmers near Kirov." No, we’re moving to a hotel near Moscow. We make a program for a week. No, for 3 days. We count on 30 participants. No, at 50. We practice on laptops. No, in a cloud cluster.
I already had experience teaching people how to work with Kubernetes, so the first program consisted of what I usually told fellow administrators. And it was designed for a week. Then it turned out that for a week no one wants to fall out of life for the sake of our training, and together we reduced the program to 3 days: removed all the water, replaced the theory with practical tasks to the maximum and simultaneously rebuilt the program so that it was useful not only for admins , but also to developers whose applications run on k8s.
Southbridge employees first met live
20 people from Southbridge came to study at Slurm. Almost without advertising, we sold another 30 tickets at 25,000 ₽ (which is very cheap considering accommodation), and another 30 people registered in the waiting line. It became clear that the demand for such courses is huge.
On August 2, 2018, participants gather at the hotel, and a flurry of organizational problems hurts us in the head.
In the conference room where Slurm is to be held, the repair is not completed. There are no tables: either the delivery from Ikea was delayed, or the hotel was not going to buy them, and we hung noodles on our ears. One third of the rooms are uninhabitable. The administration of the hotel looks as if it had milked commerce just yesterday, and the girls at the reception are as skilled as those commerce.
In this room, after 20 hours, the Slurm will begin
After the first Slurm, I developed Vietnamese syndrome. I personally check the rooms that we rent, count tables, sit on local chairs, try food, ask me to show the rooms.
Commercial Director Southbrdige
We sit practically on each other’s knees
Nevertheless, on the first day, all burning issues were resolved: tables were collected from the entire hotel, "robbing" the reception and the dining room, the most affected guests were accommodated in Korston in nearby Serpukhov, at the same time paying them a taxi, and they brought in water and food.
On the second day, when the situation calmed down, we decided that we should apologize to the guests. We went to the Metro and bought 100 liters of Guinness. If we could not provide comfort in the hall and in the rooms, at least brighten up the evening for people.
What do admins do after a hard day?
Despite all the problems, people liked what they were driving for: the content part. Therefore, on the third day of Slurm, we decided to repeat it in the fall. Along the way, we interviewed participants on topics of interest and gathered a reserve for an advanced program. We called it MegaSlerm.
Slurm 2: working on bugs
Slurm needs a normal hotel. We choose the five-star Tsargrad.
Wishing more than the room can accommodate, and not everyone can afford a business trip. We organize remote classes: online broadcasting, communication in the telegram channel, a group of support to help remote students.
There are significantly more students. We systematize and automate processes: creating clusters, sending out accesses, collecting questions from the audience.
We were no longer in a hurry making organizational decisions, but creating the technology of the event.
There is already a decent room, and everyone has enough tables
Now the conceptual problems are revealed.
People do not want to go to a country hotel. It seemed cool to us: to break out of the routine, to go where work and household chores would not catch you, to plunge into Kubernetes to the ears. It turned out to be an extra strain. In addition, the hotel hurts the budget of the event.
Financial departments do not want to pay employees to study in the hall when there is cheaper online. But we conceived online as a palliative for those who live in the far corners of Russia and in other countries, and were not going to turn Slerm into a three-day webinar.
I was particularly pleased that 40 people came to MegaSlerm, although we initially counted on 15-20. Among them are many participants of the first Slurm.
The first sale is marketing. The second sale is the quality of the product. From the second Slurm, we evaluate our work by people who sign up for all our programs, and by companies that send employees to us again and again. We have already officially made a club discount for them.
Slurm 3: hello Peter!
We spend Slurm in St. Petersburg. We make the same price for live and remote participation.
And we miss the size of the hall.
We select a small neat room for 50 people. Applications are slowly dropping, and suddenly comes the end of December. Companies are beginning to quickly master the budgets of 18 and literally in a week they are buying up all the places.
All January people write: "We are from St. Petersburg, we just found out, we want to go to the gym, please find a place." And we add 20 more places. According to calculations, it turned out that everything would fit, but when we start to set up tables, it turns out very closely.
On the third Slorme, the requirements for the dimensions, layout and equipment of the hall crystallize.
As usual, a new layer of problems is revealed: our speakers are cool as techies, but not like teachers. It is not enough to have a good program, it is necessary to convey it to the audience.
After the third Slurm, the project has a methodological support.
My sister works in education: organizes and conducts master classes, seminars, intensives. Including teaches school teachers and speakers. I called her for help.
I studied with speakers, explained what the educational process looks like, told what an interactive lecture is, how to keep the attention of students. For example, if you talk non-stop for a long time, be sure that half of the people will miss. We worked on presentations, interactively. Organized oratory classes for children.
At the same time, we decided to invite outside speakers so as not to get stuck on the experience and practices of Southbridge.
When I prepare, first of all I try to understand how I myself came to this knowledge. Why did I need it and what difficulties did I encounter. Then I try to systematize all this, I turn to the documentation, clarify for myself some points that I did not pay attention to before. I’ll definitely think over practical tasks so that people do not just listen, but do it with their hands. Then the most difficult things need to be visualized on slides. And have a rehearsal with live people. Usually we ask one of our colleagues to listen to the material, go through practical tasks and express how clear, difficult, useful it is.
Slurm-4: a chrysalis turned into a butterfly
The fourth Slurm was a breakthrough: 120 participants in the hall, a host, a methodologist, a group of support from 20 people, everything was licked and rehearsed.
... I remember Slurm-4 in Moscow. It somehow happened that it was on it that I first began to think not about how I would conduct the lesson, whether I would say everything in the text, or forget anything, but about how well the audience understood me. As far as I was able to convey my thoughts and explain how the technology works. This is a rather interesting change that has occurred within me. I began to look differently at the preparation process, and indeed at our courses themselves.
How far have we gone from the first Slurm ...
Not without a bit of shame. With the words “We’re admins, networkers, we’re going to open our own super Wi-Fi now”, we set up access points, then someone kicked the network cable going to Mikrotik with his foot, he connected via Wi-Fi to a neighboring point, a ring formed. As a result, the first half of the day, "our fashionable Wi-Fi" barely worked.
The story of my whole life: it is worth starting to hang out, there is a fierce fakap. It was not necessary to change the working solution only because we have cooler equipment <...>
But I was pleased that people, sitting on a basic course, bought tickets for an advanced course. If a person, listening to our speakers, is ready right here and now to pay 45 thousand to listen to them for another 3 days, this means something.
The secret of success
A year ago, we stole tables from the dining room to seat 50 participants.
We are now certified at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.
The next Slurm takes place in September in St. Petersburg, Selectel invited us to his conference room.
An online version of the courses is recorded and sold.
We look closely at foreign countries: we are negotiating with Kazakhstan and Germany.
It's time to uncover the secret of success.
But he is not.
One could say: you just have to do your job well. But I’ve done a lot of things well in life, and what's the point? We can say: the team decides. But in my life there were sensible teams that could not tear themselves from the bottom. In every success story, I see a combination of good circumstances. And in ours - first of all.
In time, a hot topic fell into my hands. There were specialists ready to explain it. They agreed to become leaders. There was money for the organization. Each time we rested on frames, the right person appeared on the horizon. Everything coincided in the most favorable way.
And most importantly - a great audience. People whom we remember in person and by name, and greet each other at a chance meeting. If there were a little more criticism, and a little less thanks, we would not have risked continuing after the first Slurm.
Accidents are not accidental.
If you have read to the end, you can register for Slurm in St. Petersburg with a 15% discount on the habrapost promo code.