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Kacey Gambill
Kacey Gambill

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KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2023 - NA


My thoughts on KubeCon + CloudNativeCon

This year the conference was in the McCormick Place in Chicago. A beautiful city, and a large venue. There was plenty of room for the various talks, which all filled up quite fast. There were a few that I did not make it to because of the amount of people, which is awesome though. I most will follow up and watch those sessions as they come out later!

There was a cool sticker system for the badges. There were green, yellow and red stickers. Each one indicating your social level. Green -- open to talk, yellow -- hesitant, red -- not interested. That or these served as a level of comfort to social distancing. I found this helpful because I enjoy the networking part of the conference. This made it easy to identify others who enjoyed taking moments to talk about the conference.

The Kubecrawl on the first day of the conference was a lot of fun. So many vendors helped take part and made it a wonderful event. Some gave out fresh baked cookies, cotton candy, brews and hosted small little carnival style challenges. This made for a really fun night. Also, it was great to see Phippy and a few of their friends out wandering around the event!

The breakfast and lunch provided had a nice set of healthy options each day. This kept me feeling ready to learn and take part each day.
McCormick Place also provided a coat drop-off and bag-drop area, which was on the lower level and open from before the event started to well after it ended. This made it really nice so that you did not have to carry around coats or swag all day.

Another thing I found helpful was the staff stationed around the event. They were helpful in directing people towards the various events and talks.

Networking and Community

As a Site Reliability Engineer I have a lot of fun doing any number of tasks that I get to work on. A typical day might look like: Improving existing infrastructure, coming up with novel solutions to a problem, or helping out and making sure the developers have what they need from us so that they can continue to be productive.

At KubeCon there was a good mix of different professions. There were a lot of other developers, product managers, VP's, CTO's, other SRE's and DevOps practitioners. With the different professions that were there it gave me a good chance to get out of my comfort zone and interview so many people. I was able to talk to a lot of the community members that help make up the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

Being a part of this passionate community is one of my favorite parts of what I get to do. Sometimes during day to day work, it can be isolating, especially with most jobs being remote. I am not sure that anyone enjoys building something by themselves. I know that I value input from my coworkers and the community members. Conferences like this provide a great time to go out and seek that input. Especially from other industry experts.

A funny example that I can think of is, if I was to build something, isolated, on my own island it might turn out pretty cool. If I could tour hundreds of other islands and receive feedback from other people before building that feature, it will likely turn out to be something great. In this example, sure there is so much googling you can do and researching what is out there. To me, that never compares to going out and talking to other members of the community.

I also love hearing about the new and exciting things happening within the Cloud Native community. It was also fun getting to celebrate the various projects that the community is now incubating, and especially those that graduated. Getting to see all that hard work become something excellent is wonderful.


Conferences like this also help act as a sort of North Star to me. I will go for months plugging away having fun, but these conferences always help shed new light on things and re-energize my drive to do what I do.

Conferences like these also help expose us to the new technologies and tools coming out, which helps us do our job better and help enhance our systems' reliability and efficiency.

Talks that I enjoyed

There were a lot of good sessions that bring interesting perspectives and novel solutions.

Specific sessions that I enjoyed:

  • A Tiny Talk on Tiny Containers -- Eric Gregory

    • slides Reducing image size of containers makes them much more efficient, sustainable and easier to secure. This quick talk focuses on these three key things as it demonstrates some best practices when building docker containers and then gives a quick peek at WASM (Web Assembly) and how tiny of a footprint it can take up.
  • 15,000 Minecraft Players Vs One K8s Cluster. Who Wins? -- Justin Head, Super League Gaming & Cornelia Davis, Spectro Cloud

    • slides In this talk Justin Head and Cornelia Davis demonstrated how much MAAS (metal as a service), and the cAPI (cluster API) has evolved and simplified deploying a kubernetes clusterto an on prem datacenter. By doing this they were able to see 55-60% cost reduction for their machine costs, and 90-100% cost reduction for networking. This did come with some interesting problems though. Due to the nature of physical machines, the boot time for their nodes was upwards of 15 minutes, so there was a lot of work that went into pre-provisioning and having nodes ready to go. This helped make it so that players would not have to wait 15 minutes for new nodes to come online.
  • A Practical Guide to Debugging Browser Performance with OpenTelemetry -- Purvi Kanal

    • slides This talk gave a quick intro to how page load time was and is often times measured. It then dove deeper into how we can instrument Open Telemetry. And use it to gather more effective metrics that come from real users.

I will be adding more to this list as I have time.


I was not planning on mentioning swag when I decided to write this, but anyone that knows me, knows I love reading.

A lot of vendors this year gave out books as swag. I always appreciate stickers and shirts, but the books are valuable. A few of the books that I received from the various sponsors were:

  • GitOps Cookbook, Kubernetes Automation in Practice by Natale Vinto & Alex Soto Bueno
  • Observability Engineering, Achieving Production Excellence by Charity Majors, Liz Fong-Jones & George Miranda
  • Kubernetes Up & Running, Dive into the Future of Infrastructure by Brendan Burns, Joe Beda, Kelsey Hightower & Lachlan Evenson
  • DevSecOps in Kubernetes, by Wei Lien Dang & Ajmal Kohgadai (Report)
  • What is eBPF? An Introduction to a New Generation of Networking, Security and Observability Tools by Liz Rice (Report)
  • A Gentle Introduction To OpenSearch by Mitch Seymour
  • Phippy's Field Guide to WASM by Matt Butcher & Karen Chu

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