KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2019 - Quo Vadis?

Estimated reading time: 8 mins

The KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2019 at Barcelona (Spain) was great! But there were also some things, which I like to mention, that weren't that good. The KubeCon EU is undisputedly the largest conference that covers all topics starting by Kubernetes as such and ending by all of the more than 600 projects from the CNCF landscape.

As a two-time visitor I am still fairly new to this conference but there was a difference between the KubeCon EU 2018 at Copenhagen and this years KubeCon EU 2019 conference at Barcelona and for sure, it's definitely not about the cities. 😂

As always, this is a fully personal review and it's only my opinion, nothing more. I know, that every comparison between conferences limps but due to the fact that I had the opportunities to visit some other conferences in the last two years, like the DockerCon's, the DevConf.cz at Brno, the DevOps Gathering at Bochum and some more, I think that it is OK to show some parallels and differences.

Therefore, this KubeCon EU 2019 recap might be a little bit different from what you expect, but nevertheless hopefully still interesting. Where there is light, there is also (some) shadow. Now let's have a look into the details.

The venue

With about 7700 attendees the KubeCon EU 2019 was the largest conference that I've ever attend to and it was exciting! THe venue was huge and everyone had enough space to float around. But the size of the venue had some disadvantages. I am pretty fit and good on foot but this long walks between the halls are not suitable for everyone. There was enough time between the breakouts to change the hall and the room between the hall 8.0 and 8.1 but walking over to the coffee bar which was located between hall 7 and 6 took to much time. One cause for this was, that there were only four escalators from hall 8.0 (basement) to the first floor, which was necessary to move over to hall 6 and hall 7. And a lot of people like coffee! 😂 Some coffee breakpoints like in Copenhagen last year would have been nice.

The venue offered enough space for the sponsor showcase, which was pretty cool and the venue was completely air conditioned! But hall 8.1 had a serious sound problem. Unfortunately I didn't make a picture of it, but I will try to describe it. In hall 8.1 there were 6 cubes (I think) build up to divide the large hall into smaller “rooms”. The idea was great but this cubes were only covered with fabric! As a consequence, at the moment the tracks started, you also heard the other speakers from the other cubes - this was a little bit confusing.😜

The breakout sessions and pancake breakfast

This year I have mixed feelings about the talks I've listened to. Some of them were very impressive, some were of mixed quality. In addition some tracks were starting really interesting but till the end, they were a little bit commercial. I am perfectly OK with it but some people argument that the DockerCon is so “enterprise” and “commercial” - I am not sure about this anymore. I mean hey, DockerCon is named along the Docker Inc. corporate and that's their conference - you know what you will get there.

I visited the following sessions:

  • Building images efficently and securely on Kubernetes with BuildKit (Akihiro Suda)
  • Intro: Linkerd (William Morgan, Buoyant)
  • CI/CD Best Practices discussion panel
  • How we used Kubernetes to Host a Capture the Flag (CTF)
  • Navigating the Cloud Native Community for End Users - Cheryl Hung, CNCF
  • Deep Dive: Falco - Michael Ducy, Sysdig
  • Deep Dive: Fluent/FluentBIT
  • Deep Dive: CoreDNS
  • Infrastructure as software

The pancake breakfast on the second day, which was sponsored by VMWare was very disillusioning. The discussion panels topic was service mesh. After the introduction the host asked the audience how many people are currently using a service mesh in production. Of course, people were coming for pancakes but it was an eye opener that only two out of approximately 200 in this room raised their hands. Wow. The second question from the host was, how many of the audience are currently testing service meshes - now roughly 10 people raised their hands. That was a second surprise. Before the panel starts, I thought, that my colleagues and myself will be the minority because we are not using nor currently testing services meshes. But it turns out, that we are not alone. During the discussion the host asked the users of the service meshes what the greatest show stoppers are in their opinion. All agreed that the additional abstraction layer makes it hard to debug problems, if there are any. That's also my opinion currently.

The sponsor showcase

The sponsor showcase during the KubeCon EU 2019 was huge! It was amazing to have the opportunity to talk to all these KubeCon and CNCF sponsors at one place. I talked to a lot of friends and of course to new people. Unfortunately there was no sticker table this time. The K8s Boothday Party was awesome! As you can see on the picture to the left, the sponsor booths were often really crowded. One exception was the Oracle booth - there were never a lot of people there.

The all attendee party

The Poble Espanyol was 😍😍😍! I've never seen something like that before. It was very interesting to walk around and to see the different regions of Spain at one place. The food was awesome and the mood was great!

This and that

First of all, I personally missed a sticker table! I sure that at such a large conference it would not be easy to handle a sticker table, but it is not impossible. I understand that for he sponsors which are running a booth at the sponsor showcase it is better to not have a sticker table because it's better for them if people visit the booths. Thats fully OK, but it ould be nice to have a sticker table, where small projects would have the opportunity to place their stickers there. For example, I took my BosnD stickers with me, to place it on the ticker table, to do some promotion for our small project. Therefore, a community sticker table would be a nice to have next time.

I like it to meet community members and interested people which may be the reason why I am a huge fan of the DockerCon Hallway Track and the DockerCon Pals Program. For me it's not that hard to find some friends around the venue, because I am already a member of the community. But for first time visitors it can be a challenging time. Programs like a Hallway Track would be really helpful.

Together with Dominique Top and the other Docker Community Leaders we were able to arrange a “Docker Community Leader Mini Summit” 🤗 which was really fun and of course, I get connected to new members from all over the world! That's really something I definitely enjoy - and it was one of the biggest moments of my KubeCon EU 2019 trip (see the picture to the left)!

There was a track about serverless technologies but in the sponsor showcase that wasn't really a topic which was surprising.

Personal hopes and resume

Quo vadis KubeCon - Where are you going? Personally I think that it would be better if the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2019 would be split up because in my opinion, the conference is too large for people who are there for the first time especially. This time, three of my colleagues were with me at the KubeCon - all three were new to the KubeCon and two of them have never visited such a large tech conference before. I am really happy that I was already at some conferences because therefore I was able to guide my colleagues. I am a KubeCon Pal now? Maybe it would be helpful if the conference would be a little bit smaller, like the KubeCon EU 2019 at Copenhagen with approximately 5500 attendees. Otherwise it would be an option to split the conference in two parts - one for the Kubernetes platform and one for maybe all the other CNCF projects. One of the keynote speakers at the KubeCon EU 2019 said it clear: “Kubernets is a platform to build platforms” - this might be a reason to split up the conferences.

One more thing is important: the community. In my opinion, the KubeCon has to focus on community. There should be definitely something like a Hallway Track and a Community Track, where people can meet each other for the same projects and projects can promote themselves. Otherwise, the whole conference might be overtaken by business partners completely - and this would be really bad for such great communities.

For me the visit was more than worth, because I met some new friends from the Docker Community Leaders, CoreDNS maintainers and some other people.

Thats it. Have a lot of fun!

Posted on: Sat, 25 May 2019 15:39:06 +0200 by Mario Kleinsasser
Doing Linux since 2000 and containers since 2009. Like to hack new and interesting stuff. Containers, Python, DevOps, automation and so on. Interested in science and I like to read (if I found the time). My motto is "𝗜𝗺𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗶𝘀 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄𝗹𝗲𝗱𝗴𝗲. [Einstein]". Interesting contacts are always welcome - nice to meet you out there - if you like, do not hesitate and contact me!