KubeCon Recap: Summary Edition
Well, that’s a wrap! I just finished up a week in Chicago and I’m on the plane home. Free plane wifi FTW! This’ll probably be a shorter post since I’m tired, but wanted to summarize my thoughts of the conference while they’re still fresh. Over the next several weeks I’m going to do some deep dives into a few of my experiences and thoughts from the conf. Overall it was a fantastic experience, possibly the best KubeCon I’ve been to.
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The Conference Theme
I feel like every KubeCon has a “theme” to it. I don’t know if this is intentional on the part of the organizers or if it just organically happens, but it’s always really interesting to me to try to suss out the theme1. This time around, the theme was pretty clearly “Security”. There were dozens of security-focused talks, and a significant fraction of the booths in the vendor hall were security companies. As an industry this is great and I think makes a lot of sense, but I’ve been out of the security world for a long time so it didn’t feel as relevant to me. I did, however, get to meet Ian Coldwater, who is a bit of a legend in the Kubernetes security world! So that was pretty rad.
As an aside, I was somewhat surprised to discover that the theme wasn’t LLMs. There were some AI/ML-related talks, and it did come up in the keynotes and such, but it didn’t feel to me like it was a major focus of the conference. i don’t know if infra folks are naturally more skeptical of LLMs, or if the hype in general is dying down, or if the CFP was just too early for people’s LLM-based projects to have gotten traction? Or maybe I just missed it. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in future conferences.
Kubernetes Contributor Summit
As I may have mentioned in the past, I’m an approver on the Kubernetes Cluster Autoscaler project, which means that I’m eligible for the pre-conference contributor summit. I’ve actually been for a couple years, but have never been able to make it out in time for it. This time, I got in early enough that I was able to attend some sessions in the afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised by it. It’s a much smaller, more intimate group of folks and some really quality talks here. Two of my favorites were a talk by Jordan Liggitt from Google on keeping Kubernetes up to date, and a talk by Flynn from Bouyant about how terrible Kubernetes is. I will probably have future posts that dive into both of those.
One thing I did note from the contributor summit is that because it’s a fairly tight-knit community it can feel a little hard to break in if you’re “new”. I don’t really think this is intentional, but I found it hard to get any conversations happening in the hallway track.
Cluster Autoscaler vs Karpenter
My most popular blog post to date on this blog2 is Conway’s Law and Kubernetes. In that post, I used the conversations between AWS and SIG-autoscaling to have the Karpenter project taken over by the SIG to explore how Conway’s Law has shaped Kubernetes development. I’ve maybe been a little bit skeptical of the Karpenter project at times, but it seems like large portions of the industry are starting to coalesce around it, and I got a bit more clarity into why in the last week. I’ll probably have another follow-up post around this.
Two big pieces of news from the conference is that Karpenter was “officially” donated to SIG-autoscaling (announced during one of the keynotes) and that for the first time, Karpenter supports something besides AWS! Apparently there is an Azure provider for Karpenter now. From a technical perspective, I’m going to be digging into this in the next few weeks, because I want to be able to use SimKube with Karpenter in addition to Cluster Autoscaler.
Speaking of SimKube
I had my talk on Wednesday, which was really well-received. Had a bunch of good questions and follow-up conversations, so it seems like this is a thing that people in the industry really want to see happen. So that was pretty exciting! Also I got to show off some fun hats:
I have a recorded demo to accompany the talk, showing off what SimKube does currently—check that out if you’re interested! I’ll also follow up in a future post with “What it’s like to give a KubeCon talk”.
The Hallway Track
I mentioned this briefly in my last post, but the “hallway track” just means “chatting up random people you meet in the hallway.” I felt like the hallway track was really strong this time around. At least part of this is because I’ve been around long enough to know quite a lot of people at the conference, but even among people that I didn’t know previously, I had some really good conversations. It’s pretty hard for me to just go up and chat to folks, so it was really rewarding to feel like I could do this and people were interested in the things I had to say.
As you maybe picked up on in my last post, I really don’t go for vendor swag. It’s just a way for companies to harvest emails, but even so it’s interesting to see what kind of swag companies are giving away at the conference. I felt like, unlike in past years, the swag was way toned back. The “coolest” thing I saw was a plastic lightsaber, which didn’t collapse and thus wouldn’t fit into carryon luggage. There were a few Lego set giveaways, and some, like, socks and stuff, but I didn’t see anyone walking away with armloads of cool stuff. Wonder if companies are realizing that the return-on-investment here is low.
I think that’s all I’m going to cover in this issue of the blog! Sorry for the super-teaser post, but hopefully you were able to get a taste of the conference if you weren’t able to attend, and maybe I’ve piqued your interest to read some of my follow-up posts in the next few weeks!
Thanks for reading,
It’s also hilarious when the theme flip-flops. At my first KubeCon, the theme was “Steve Ballmer Meme Sidecars! Sidecars! Sidecars!”, and at my second KubeCon the theme was “:drakeno: sidecars, :drakeyes: idkwtf, anything but sidecars”.
A bit to my suprise, I wasn’t expecting it to get the traction that it did.