Introducing Speakers of Zabbix Conference 2016, part 1

Zabbix Conference 2016

In a month and a half we will meet you all at the 6th international Zabbix Conference, taking place on September 9-10 in Riga.

You will witness practical examples of what Zabbix is capable of, multiple case studies, talks, hands-on experience and spend an amazing time through exciting events before, during and after the conference.

To give you a small preview on the agenda that awaits you, we are creating a  series of pre-conference interviews with the speakers of this years event, granting you a deeper insight on the themes and topics intertwined through the agenda of Zabbix Conference 2016.

In this blog post we present you our honored speaker, Senior Systems Engineer at Kinetic IT, Ryan Armstrong, who is willing to share his inspiration and plans on the upcoming Zabbix Conference 2016.

Pre-conference Interview with Ryan Armstrong

Tell us about you and your company, how did you get started, and what choices led you to where you are now?

Ryan ArmstrongKinetic IT is an Australian owned and operated, Managed Services Provider who deliver IT services for enterprises, typically with over 3000 seats. Kinetic value building partnerships with their clients and typically collocate with their clients to do this.

I work in the Tools and Automation team of our biggest client, the Western Australian Department of Education. I started in the team four years ago. Since then I’ve focussed on monitoring in Zabbix as well as automated configuration management with Puppet Enterprise. In between I focus on source control workflows, automated testing and general Linux administration.

What are your biggest challenges, and could you give us some interesting statistics regarding your work?

Our biggest challenge is managing a large scale enterprise which continues to grow in size and complexity but while reducing cost and risk. Our client is responsible for all public schools in one of the fastest growing states in Australia. While the population is typically increasing, setbacks in the royalties earned from the sale of Iron Ore, our primary export, have resulted in financial challenges for all of government. Our challenge is to find ways to provide an adaptive, reliable and low cost IT service.

Kinetic IT with the Department of Education provide services to 800 schools with over 400,000 end users. We run around 5300 school servers with an additional 1500 servers for corporate applications.

All public schools connect back to the corporate office for Internet delivery and centralised management. These schools are distributed over a land mass three times bigger than Texas.

Our Zabbix instance currently monitors all of it, with 6800 monitored hosts, 1.4M items and 470K triggers. We typically have nine or ten users logged on at any time and process over 2000 new values per second.

How did you choose Zabbix to be your monitoring solution, and what about Zabbix impresses you the most?

We chose Zabbix after comparing eleven other commercial and open source alternatives including HP OM, Nagios, Microsoft SCOM, Solar Winds and Paessler PRTG. Zabbix was the clear winner on paper when compared against our desired criteria. Desired features included Active Directory integration, a HTTP API, automated host discovery, automated resource level discovery (called LLD in Zabbix) and a web configuration UI.

Once we started playing with Zabbix, the most impressive feature was its small footprint. Our central Zabbix infrastructure is significantly smaller than we budgeted for with capacity to spare. Additionally, the impact of the monitoring agent on our end points is negligible, while other products have had significant impact on compute and network IO.

What is your history with Zabbix Conference, and could you tell us your motivation for becoming one of the speakers for this year’s event?

I’ve never been to Zabbix Conference though I’ve watched many of the videos from the comfort of my lounge. I’m excited to be invited to speak at this year’s conference so that I can share some of the great work my team has done; integrating Zabbix with other systems, and automating the build of more complex monitoring templates.

I also look forward to meeting some of the Zabbix community in person; people like avladishev, richlv and volter who have been a constant source of support to us.

What would be the key message of your presentation, and what do you want attendees to learn from your talk?

Automate everything. Zabbix is the perfect platform to automate the monitoring configuration of newly provisioned to decommissioned nodes. Automated configuration management means you can have confidence that everything is monitored while minimising the effort required to keep monitoring configuration up to date with operational changes. I hope to share the tools and processes we use to automate Role Based Access Control, Host configuration and Template creation.

In your opinion, what are the main advantages and reasons for joining the upcoming Zabbix Conference 2016?

I look forward to experiencing the talks in person; to see how others have adopted Zabbix, their lessons learned and best practices. I also look forward to the offline conversations in between talks; to ask questions and get answers from the horse’s mouth.

What topics you look forward to discussing with Zabbix community, conference participants and Zabbix team?

I anticipate discussing Zabbix’ engagement of the open source community and how it can contribute more directly while generating new business.

Additionally I plan to contribute to the roadmap on higher maturity features such as data aggregation, log extraction and moving to a distributed service components architecture.

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At the conference Ryan will describe a Skunkworks project executed by Kinetic IT at the Department of Education to deliver an autonomous infrastructure monitoring solution for over 6000 devices distributed across WA.

We are excited to meet Ryan at the Zabbix Conference in just over a month, to gain and share new information, priceless best practices and experience.

Only a few short weeks are left to register, so we encourage you to act now and join the biggest Zabbix event of the year, to discover new possibilities of Zabbix, find answers, get to know Zabbix experts and community, people who share your passion, and quite possibly might become your next business partners!

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