DevOps' Swiss Army Knife for the BEAM

Viktória Fördős
WombatOAM Tech Lead @ Erlang Solutions

Erlang/OTP provides a rich platform that allows you to build, test, deploy and maintain distributed Erlang systems. What Erlang/OTP lacks are the runtime tools that are still usable in case of distributed Erlang systems. The built-in tools are real Swiss Army knives in the event of an ongoing outage once you have figured out a way to use them on a remote node (and have installed all dependencies). 

In this talk we give insight into the existing tools (etop, redbug, etc.) and highlight their strengths and weaknesses. We will show you how innocent looking commands (e.g. calling io:format/2 or tracing with redbug) can kill a node. 

Working with popular tools, we have realised that these tools should be reshaped to meet today's requirements such as ease of use and safety. Therefore, we extended the architecture of WombatOAM, an operation and maintenance tool for systems running on the BEAM virtual machine, to enable the wide variety of tools we wanted to support. We present this architecture, which is feature-driven, distributed and generic enough to drive the next generation of runtime tools.

Talk objectives:

  • Discover the capabilities of Erlang specific runtime tools.
  • Learn how to convert chaos into an architecture design. 
  • Explore a feature-driven distributed architecture. 

Target audience:

Developers having tired of patchworking, Support and Operations staff who want to efficiently recover from outages.


Viktória first came in contact with Erlang in 2010 when she joined the RefactorErl project. Between 2012 and 2014, she worked as a researcher in RefactorErl and in the PharaPhrase FP7 EU project. Since 2012, she has been active as a researcher: co-authored papers in the ACM SIGPLAN Erlang Workshop, in ‘Proceedings of Trends in Functional Programming’ (TFP), in ‘Lecture Notes in Computer Science’ (LNCS) and in Computer Languages Systems & Structures (COMLAN). She is Member of Program Committee for the ACM Erlang Workshop 2016. 

She joined Erlang Solutions in 2014. She worked in the RELEASE FP7 EU project and has become the WombatOAM's Technical Lead. She is currently working on exploiting CRDTs and causal consistency to ensure operations in unreliable networks as part of the SYNCFREE FP7 EU project. 

Coincidentally, her favourite animals are wombats and hedgehogs.

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