RoachFest Menlo Park Preview: A Data-Based Q&A with MC Chris Casano

Last edited on June 4, 2024

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    The first phase of a RoachFest 2024 triple-play is almost here: On June 13th in Menlo Park, Cockroach Labs will host the leading event for application owners, data architects, database administrators, engineers, and operators. 

    Our popular annual user conference has expanded to three cities this year, with events in London (June 27) and New York City (September 26) to follow the San Francisco-area opener. Whether you’re already running your data-intensive workloads on CockroachDB, or just hungry for the latest developments in enterprise-grade distributed databases, RoachFest will enlighten you. Sharpen your skills with expert speaker tracks, breakout sessions, networking – and of course, a cocktail hour to decompress!

    One participant who’s particularly psyched for RoachFest’s return is Chris Casano, Director, Customer Engineering Americas for Cockroach Labs and the MC of the Menlo Park gathering. We sat down with Chris for a quick Q&A on what makes RoachFest a completely different data event, who should attend, and the fresh insights that they can expect. 

    Chris Casano

    Cockroach Labs' Chris Casano is revved up for RoachFest in Menlo Park on June 13th.

    Chris, if you met a data architect at a party and they said, “What is RoachFest?” what would you tell them?

    It's the prime place to meet our great customers and see what they do with CockroachDB. You want to learn from people who've been there, done that: You’ll get honest feedback of what works, and also what sometimes doesn't work. Architectural themes, success stories, scale stories, migration stories - you can see it all at RoachFest.

    What makes RoachFest a unique event? Why should a data architect, DBA engineer or operator attend?

    Because all those people will be there. If you are a developer, an architect, an operator you'll find your community at RoachFest. 

    I think it comes down to four different areas of interest. First, if you’re looking to modernize your architecture, you can learn how other customers have done that with CockroachDB. Second, if you're looking to consolidate databases because you have flavors of SQL and NoSQL and legacy databases, Cockroach gives you the avenue to think about, “How can I consolidate onto one database for the future?” 

    Also, if you're looking to expand your business, you'd want to futureproof it as you grow. Again, you can see how other CockroachDB users did that. Lastly, if you have challenges with an application today – say you're struggling with the backend of the data tier of your application – an operator, developer, or architect can learn how to possibly ameliorate the situation by seeing how some of our customers got off of a bad application, or improved the bad application by changing out the backend.

    I’ll also mention that there will be a lot of product owners attending RoachFest. For example, if you're running a SaaS company, or you run a payments platform or a trading platform and you're the product owner for those offerings, you can see how our customers help product teams to make their products more stable, more scalable, or efficient.

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    What kind of information and insights do you think that data and applications professionals are looking for in 2024 to get an edge for themselves and their organizations?

    I think speed and time-to-market are big: Can you modernize or migrate or build as fast as the business? The last thing you want to do is spend time on non-functional requirements like scale, security, disaster recovery – you want to spend less time doing those things and more time building out features for your applications. 

    Now more than ever, time is money. There's so many good technologies out there that allow you to develop or engineer for the business, and CockroachDB brings a lot of that. We'll see that theme of speed and time-to-market day-in, day-out at RoachFest. 

    Are you seeing a growing awareness of the database's role in helping them achieve goals along these lines?

    Definitely. When application developer teams no longer have to think about building non-functional requirements in their application – building scale, data consistency checks, or sharding logic – that takes all technical debt out of their arena, so they can just focus on building the right feature. If the database can do a lot of those tasks, such as the consistency, scale, and auto-sharding, for you then you don't have to worry about those things. As a developer, you can just develop and let the database do all the data magic for you.

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    What’s a memory you have of last year's RoachFest that encapsulates what this event is all about?

    There were so many good presentations. I think that's the best part is that you got a very unbiased opinion about where things work, where things didn't work. Some of the larger customers really explain their scale: “In Year One it was like this, but in Year Three it was like this with hundreds of terabytes, hundreds of nodes, hundreds of applications that have been deployed in CockroachDB.” It’s amazing to see the growth over time. 

    It's also the variety. In 2023 we saw users in different industries, different types of use cases, and they're doing it better and better with more ability to scale, with less focus on all the operations that you historically needed to do. Making life easier for operators has been cool to watch.

    In what way has RoachFest 2024 leveled up? How will this be a new experience for someone who may have attended last year and is trying to decide whether to return for another round? 

    RoachFest is aligned with the theme of CockroachDB in the way that it’s unfolding. Before, RoachFest was in one place – think about a legacy database being in one place and then being able to push it out. It’s the same with RoachFest. Previously we were only held in New York, but wow we're multi-region, with events in San Francisco, New York, and London. 

    We're doing the whole data locality thing, pushing all the knowledge and information to the locations of where everyone is because it's hard to get everyone into New York at the same time. But now we're localizing everything so that you can get the best of both worlds: You don't have to travel, you can get a lot of local expertise, and you can meet the regional account teams. 

    That’s a great parallel. Here’s my last question: What is the extra dimension that comes with learning and networking in real life that you can't get from a virtual conference?

    One in-person meeting is worth 10 remote meetings. The relationships that you build, the knowledge that you gain, the progress that you can make is all just 10X more than doing everything remote. Connecting with a person goes a long way. 

    What I'm very excited about are the customer stories – that's really where you hear it all. Where the rubber really hits the road is the satisfaction that CockroachDB users get when they prove out one of their use cases or improve one of their applications. 

    Even if that use case or application is not specifically applicable to your enterprise data management scenario, you can still see the journey of what it’s like to do a modernization or migration effort, or build out a net- new app. You can experience all of that at RoachFest: It's powerful to see and fun to learn.

    Visit here for the full agenda and to save your spot at RoachFest 2024 in Menlo Park, CA.

    RoachFest 2024
    database event
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