CAST 2019 Keynotes

Ash Coleman

Your Everyday Tester

Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. As we navigate through life, we do so in a way that test the limits of our abilities. Questions I have asked myself in the past are, “Can I make it to work on time if I leave now?”, “What happens if I use baking soda instead of baking powder?”, and on days when I’m feeling especially strong, “Can I deadlift 200lbs?”. All of these questions require exploration to get to a large degree of certainty. Opportunities in my daily life have inspired me to ask these questions, however it is only when I put them to the test that I get any answers.

The same goes for testing! Items within my everyday inspire me as a tester. Seeing software for its possibilities, and testing it for its limits help me define degrees of certainty. If we curate software testing with as much curiosity as we explore this world we live in, we will find that a lot more of what we do in real life inspires possibilities when exploring software.


A progressive type, Ash focuses her efforts within technology on bringing awareness to inclusion of women and people of color, especially in the Context Driven Testing and Agile communities. Though technology and inclusion have her heart today, engineering was not her first love.  A former chef, Ash crafted her software approach through the learnings of hospitality. After 16 years, she put recipes aside when she began her career in software development, falling back on her skills in engineering she acquired as a kid building computers with her brother.

An avid fan of matching business needs with technological solutions, you can find her doing her best work on whichever coast is the sunniest. Having helped teams build out testing practices, formulate Agile processes and redefine culture, Ash, formally Engineering Manager in Quality, now serves as Head of Diversity & Inclusion for Credit Karma. She continues testing and consulting based out of San Francisco. (She/Her)


Charity Majors 

Observability and Complex Systems: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Distributed systems, microservices, containers and schedulers, polyglot persistence … modern infrastructure is ever more fluid and dynamic, chaotic and transient. Likewise, individual engineering roles can no longer be broken down neatly into software engineers (who write the code) and ops engineers (who deploy the code (and buffer the consequences)). Many teams have already sailed past an event horizon of complexity and found that their old tools and processes — and org charts! — no longer work for them.

But why, exactly?

  • What was the matter with traditional metrics and logs?

  • Why are they failing to keep pace with modern systems?  What else is out there?

  • Isn’t observability just a marketing term that means monitoring? 

  • What else do we have to look forward to that will fail us?

In this talk we’ll cover the technical and cultural differences between monitoring and observability.  Operations is now part of every engineer’s mandate, just like testing became part of every engineer’s mandate a decade ago.  What does this means for specialist practitioners like test and ops engineers?  What model of software ownership should we be working towards in our organizations, and why?  Is it the same for everyone?  And how does chaos engineering fit into this whole mess: is it a must-have or a nice-to-have, and why?


Charity Majors is the cofounder and CEO of, provider of tools for engineering and DevOps teams to debug production systems faster and smarter. Previously Charity ran infrastructure at Parse and was an engineering manager at Facebook. Together with her co-founder, Charity knew there had to be an easier and better way to help development teams continuously deliver with speed and stability. Co-author of Database Engineering Reliability, she believes “With distributed systems, you don’t care about the health of the system, you care about the health of the event or the slice”. Charity speaks extensively on the subject and is committed to improving the life quality of every developer.