Presented by

  • Steven Ellis

    Steven Ellis

    During his 30 years in the technology industry Steven has transitioned from development through infrastructure and operations, with a bit of devops on the side, into architecture roles. His experience encompasses a broad range of Unix and Linux and Cloud technologies, about which he regularly speaks at public events including, LinuxWorld, OSCON, Open Source Summit, OpenStack Summit and Red Hat Summit. In his spare time he still hacks on the MythTV project and debugs Open Source on random bits of hardware that really should know better.


Empower yourself with a new approach for looking at your IT landscape. Remove the rose tinted spectacles and see large parts of your infrastructure for what it really is, a rusty blunt axe, rather than a precision engineered carbon, or perhaps silicon, edged beauty. We regularly use analogies as a way to make technological shifts easier for organisations to understand. Most recently we’ve used “Cattle vs Pets” for our recent shift towards immutable infrastructure and Dev/Ops centric patterns. One problem is not all IT is moving at the speed of automation, and I often see references to “Stone Age” systems or processes. So after roughly 30 years in the IT industry I keep coming back to one key concept. Almost everything can be explained if you treat its origin as a “Dwarf Axe”. Whilst businesses continue to have a great many fragile “snowflake” services, core systems are often large, robust and need to operate for a very long time, effectively the “Axe” of IT. Like a “Dwarf Axe” they survive for generations as they are handed from team to team. We’ll look at some “IT” war stories and see how much progress we’ve really made from the early days of the “stone axe”. Do alternative approaches make sense such as microservices (arrows) or serverless (throwing stars)? Can you really afford that fancy new system (chainsaw), maybe your axe simply needs sharpening, perhaps your axe just requires a new head or arm, or do you even need an axe any more? You might completely disagree, or occasionally nod your head in agreement, but I guarantee you’ll never look at your IT landscape the same way ever again.