On my flight back to Nigeria, I reminisced on how I travelled to Europe for the first time to attend KubeCon. One memory led to another and it dawned on me that I needed to document and share these memories with the Kubernetes and Cloud Native community. Here is my KubeCon EU summary!
Setting the scene
If you don’t already know this, I transitioned into the Cloud Native ecosystem in July last year. And when you are new to a specific tech ecosystem, it would almost feel like you are in a bubble and the only people in that ecosystem are those who talk about it on Twitter or the people using Telepresence and Emissary-ingress (my company’s products). But I realized that wasn’t true when I saw thousands of people last week at KubeCon EU.
This article is more of a memoir of my experience attending KubeCon EU for the first time. I’ll divide this article into subsections such as meeting people, speaking at KubeCon, sessions I found fascinating, tips for feature first-timers, and more. 😉
Speaking at KubeCon!
Yup! Not only did I attend KubeCon for the first time, I also spoke at KubeCon for the first time as well.
I had the pleasure of giving a lightning talk at KubeCon with Alejandro Pedraza on how to locate and debug failures using Linkerd and Telepresence. If you don’t already know, Linkerd is the fastest service mesh in the world and Telepresence enables rapid development and testing of Kubernetes services. These two tools can be used together to make locating, testing, and debugging services in Kubernetes faster.
Even though we applied to give a full-length talk, our submission was converted into a lightning talk for reasons not made clear to us by the CNCF content team. It was a bummer but Alejandro and I decided to focus on the positive side which was that it was better to speak at KubeCon than to not speak at all. 😉
Every Lightning talk at KubeCon was expected to last for 5 minutes and as Daniel Bryant likes to say, the shorter the time for your talk, the harder it can be to pass the message. This is because the limited time makes you concerned about not being able to include all the details, speaking too fast, etc. But we were able to sail through these concerns when Alejandro came up with an amazing idea to pre-record an audioless video demo and then speak over that demo during our talk.
This was the key to making our 5 minutes talk at KubeCon a success because we were not only able to cover the meaning of Linkerd and Telepresence, but we also showed the audience a comprehensive (mistake free!) demo. If you ever want to give a lightning talk about a technical product, try this approach — it is faster and increases your chances of delivering a successful talk.
It was interesting to see that the hall for our talk was completely filled up. It was so filled up that the coordinators had to turn some people back from entering the hall. This was shocking for me because I had assumed there wasn’t going to be a large turnout since our talk was scheduled to start by 6 pm. This goes again to show that the cloud native community is huge and still growing tremendously.
I loved how coordinated everything was. KubeCon has to be the most coordinated event I’ve ever spoken at. The folks told us what to do, where to sit, set up our mics, called us on time, etc. It was exceptional and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to speak at KubeCon. Now I go and rest. No, just joking lol. It is time to do even more!
Cloud Native is all about the community: Meeting people
OMG!!!!! Aside from speaking at KubeCon, meeting people was the highlight of KubeCon for me. So, who and who did I meet?
Well, first and foremost, I got to meet my manager, Daniel for the first time. As I’ve shared on Twitter over and over again (I’m not going to stop by the way 😅), Daniel is literally the coolest manager anyone could ask for. Over the years, I’ve realized that your experience at a company is either as good or as bad as your manager and I’ve been very lucky to have Daniel as my manager at Ambassador Labs. PS: We are currently looking to expand our team, so do well to apply. 😃
Aside from meeting Daniel, I also got to meet some other colleagues from Ambassador Labs who have been super helpful in one way or the other. As someone who is new to the Cloud Native ecosystem, I’m always striving to understand the technologies better, and my colleagues ( Alice, Flynn, and Luke) have always been very responsive to my questions and concerns.
Other than my teammates, I met some amazing folks in the Cloud Native community. Nate, who led the Docs team during my time in Kubernetes 1.24 release team. Divya, who guided me through making me making my first contribution to the Kubernetes documentation. Pauline, who is a constant inspiration that you can be new in a field and still excel. Kunal, who is such a good sport at sharing knowledge. Idowu, who was such a tremendous help in making me pass the CKAD exam. Bakare, who is a constant inspiration to me in the DevOps field. Rich who constantly supports me when I share my progress on Twitter. Temi, Dami, and Emily who made my time at KubeCon amazing! And every other person that I didn’t get a chance to take a selfie with. You all are amazing!
My favorite KubeCon talks & announcements
I wasn’t able to attend as many sessions as I wanted for a couple of reasons — missing the timeslot, staffing the Ambassador Labs booth, and just generally being confused about the venue. I even mistakenly looked at the schedule for 2021 at some point. Yeah, I made a ton of mistakes but you can’t blame me, I’m a first-timer (well, you can. I should have done better 😅).
Anyway, I was able to catch up with sessions I missed online and got a full experience of all the talks I wanted to attend. Here are some of my favorites:
From Cloud Naive to Cloud Native — Avoiding Mistakes Everyone Does: Max Körbächer talked about how everyone uses the term “Cloud native” for every project or solution going to the cloud and how this can be very misleading. He then goes further to share common mistakes, and the need to understand that migrating to the cloud doesn’t make you native.
From Kubernetes to PaaS to … Err, What’s Next? — This session was led by Daniel Bryant. The talk looked back on his experience of building platforms, both as an end-user and now as part of an organization helping customers do the same. Some of the interesting takeaways he shared include: treating platform as a product, realizing that you can’t have good developer experience (DevEx) without good UX, and the need to focus on workflows and tooling interoperability.
Keynotes and announcements by the co-chairs for KubeCon22: Emily Fox, Jasmine James, and Ricardo Rocha were phenomenal. You could tell they were in sync and very well prepared for their presentations.
Kubernetes security: Based on the conversations I had with folks at KubeCon, I noticed a ton of folks at KubeCon were super keen on Cloud Native security. You could see companies like Aqua share their plans on what they’ve been doing, a fantastic talk by Ann Marie Fred on Security Champions: The What, Why, and How, and a great keynote speech on How Developers Help Scale Kubernetes Security by Connor Gorman.
The newly announced Envoy Gateway: The Envoy team has been working with owners of Emissary Ingress and Contour to build an open source API Gateway, powered by Envoy Proxy, with an emphasis on simplicity and ease of use. Richard Li wrote a fantastic summary about the Envoy gateway.
Key learnings from KubeCon EU 2022
As a first-timer, I did learn a lot of interesting things that will help me do better during the next KubeCon event. If you plan to attend KubeCon for the first time in the future or just read my key learnings, this section is for you.
- Even if you are new to a Kubernetes and Cloud Native ecosystem, don’t be scared to apply to speak at KubeCon. The community is very intentional about giving everyone a chance to excel.
- Aim to collaborate with someone else in the community to submit a talk. This can give you an extra advantage as you are now combining your skills and expertise with someone else. Remember two good heads are better than one.
- Carefully read and take note of all the sessions you want to attend beforehand. Don’t make assumptions as I did (I missed some sections cause I misread the timing), always confirm!
- Apply for your travel visa as soon as possible. I know this can be tricky as you don’t control the availability of the embassy, but if there’s a way you can start processing your visa earlier than usual, please do. That will help you get the right hotels and flight fares at reasonable prices.
- If you can afford it, stay in a hotel that is close to town. Trust me, you don’t want to be worried about how far your hotel is when others are having fun at an after-party and networking. A good location also gives you an opportunity to explore the city as well.
- Be open-minded and ready to learn. This was my first time travelling to a European country so I had to learn a ton of things on the spot, and use the translator to convert what I wanted to say to the country’s local language, etc.
- If you are a first-timer like me, take it easy on yourself. It’s okay if you didn’t get to meet as many people as you wanted to. It’s okay if you had no friends there or were too shy to network. It’s okay if you missed sessions or were confused about the location of the talk. It’s okay. The most important thing is that you did it, and you went to your first KubeCon and will be better suited and well prepared for the next one. Cheers to more. 🥂
It’s not even been a year since I joined the Cloud Native ecosystem, but I have been able to achieve a good number of things. From learning about Kubernetes to leading Kubernetes workshops, passing the CKAD exam, collaborating with people in the ecosystem to speaking at KubeCon.
All of these things didn’t happen because I am super smart (Well, I try lol). It’s been possible because I’ve been fortunate to have a great support system and also work at a company that has been so intentional about providing me with all the resources I need to excel in this role. From letting my first month at the company just be about learning Kubernetes to paying for me to take the CKAD exam, and then flying me to Spain to speak at KubeCon.
KubeCon was nothing short of amazing for me. It made me realize I needed to do more, learn more and be more active in the Cloud Native community, and writing this article is a step in the right direction. I’ll continue to be more intentional about sharing my progress and learnings on this blog in a series called “My Cloud Native Developer Journey”.
To my company, friends, new acquaintances, and the organizers, thank you. Y’all made my week in Europe exceptional.
Until next time, everyone. 💛