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Some thoughts for KubeCon in 2020

I won’t lie, KubeCon 2019 in San Diego was magic — great people, great sessions and a great group of technologies. I tip my hat at the organisers!

On the people front… over 12,000 people attended, and I reckon nearly three quarters of them were KubeCon noobs (this was their first KubeCon).

I was fortunate to talk with hundreds of these KubeCon noobs (not everyone pictured below is a noob).

As we talked, I asked a lot of them how they were liking the conference. I got three recurring answers:

  1. It’s great, I love it
  2. It’s really big and overwhelming
  3. It’s cool, but the sessions are going over my head

Points 2 and 3 are a concern… 

We’re seeing thousands flock to Kubernetes and KubeCon, and the community has a responsibility throw them a rope as they climb aboard the good-ship Kubernetes.

Now then… I know it’s not directly my place to tell the KubeCon organisers how to run their show. However, I’m an active member of the community and spend most of my time helping people take their first steps with K8s. So I feel like I’ve got a decent handle on the needs of Kubernetes noobs, and what their pain-points are. So here’s my list of suggestions…

  1. Use Day Zero events to bootcamp people (I know a lot of this already happens)
  2. Have a Dev 101 track in a dedicated room
  3. Have an Infra/Ops 101 track in a dedicated room
  4. Run a set of hands-on labs covering the fundamentals
  5. Fundamentals Q&A session (with trainers on panel)
  6. Fundamentals hallway tracks

Of course this isn’t a perfect list. But it’s a good start, and I’m willing to help make it happen (no I’m not looking for publicity).

Day Zero bootcamps

Day Zero is the day before the conference officially starts, and it’s common for this day to be filled with workshops and mini-summits.

We’re already doing a decent job at delivering workshops on this day, but more can be done. 

For example, I ran a couple of 2.5 hour Kubernetes 101 workshop this year at San Diego. People loved them, and a lot of people said they helped. But some people told me they still struggled at the event — for them, a Day Zero bootcamp wasn’t enough — some of the sessions still went over their heads. 

With this in mind, let’s move on…

101 tracks

I know that Kubernetes and KubeCon is a lot bigger than Docker and DockerCon ever got. That said… I really liked the fact that DockerCon usually had a 101 track and a black belt track. 

As a moderately advanced Docker user, I normally camped out in the black belt room for the entire conference. 

So…. I reckon a Developer 101 track, and an Infra/Ops 101 track — each in their own dedicated room — would be amazing as safe and empowering spaces for Kubernetes and KubeCon noobs.

Hands-on labs

A lot of conferences have a dedicated room or hallway area where they run hands-on labs.

I think we could create a hands-on labs area at KubeCon for developer noobs and infrastructure noobs take their first steps with Kubernetes — in a safe space, at their own pace, with people to help if they get stuck or have questions.

Not seeking publicity here… but I have what I genuinely think is the ultimate hands-on Kubernetes platform to help noobs learn and connect the dots. You get curated step-by-step labs, with an amazing live dashboard that helps connect the dots like nothing I’ve ever seen before.


I don’t care if we use another platform, I just don’t think there’s anything out there better suited for teaching noobs.

Fundamentals Q&A sessions

Let’s dedicate at least one session as a safe place for noobs to go and ask a panel of trainers questions about the fundamentals. No question is too simple, and every question is important.

There’s a couple of reasons I think a panel of trainers is ideal for a session like this:

  1. I’m a trainer myself, and I know how passionate I am about helping people with things like this
  2. Trainers help people with things like this every day and are experts at delivering simple and clear answers to noobs

Fundamentals hallway tracks

I’ve been to conferences that host hallway tracks where small numbers can gather and talk about a particular topic.

My thinking here is for a set of Day Two hallway tracks that can be organised, on-demand, based on trending topics that noobs are struggling with. As a simple example, if people are hearing a term like “service mesh” thrown around a lot, organise an ad-hoc service mesh 101 hallway track where someone can lead a discussion and Q&A session laying out the fundamentals.


KubeCon 2019 in San Diego was great and the organisers and speakers did a top job. In no way am I criticising anyone — I loved the event and so did pretty much everyone I talked to. All I’m trying to do here is make some suggestions for Amsterdam and Boston in 2020.

I don’t doubt the powers-that-be are already working on this, as I know they’re a passionate bunch. But if they want help from someone who lives their life helping people get aboard the good-ship Kubernetes, I’m ready and willing.


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