Reflections on Kubernetes Community Day Amsterdam 2023

Daniel Maher
4 min read

Kubernetes Community Days Amsterdam 2023 was held on 23 and 24 February—and Scaleway was there! Two days of talks, workshops, special events, and a vibrant sponsor floor representing everything from international banks to pre-seed start-ups. It was a packed event, and one that we were happy to share with community members from across Europe. Of course, we couldn’t do everything, so I invited some of our friends to share some of their favourite moments as well! Let’s dive in.

For me, the best part of any conference is the unconference! Open spaces, hallway track, and the serendipity of chance conversations and impromptu hacks. Luckily for me, I was joined by Hao Xie, our Startup Evangelist in the Netherlands, and together we roamed the conference hall speaking with attendees and sponsors alike. I’ll let Hao hop into the driver’s seat for a moment:

We were wearing our Scaleway hoodies and the moment we arrived in the exhibition hall someone smiled at us and exclaimed enthusiastically “Scaleway!” It was Radu Matei from Fermyon Cloud, a startup which has developed an open-source tool to deploy and manage cloud native WebAssembly applications. “Hey, how do you know us?” I asked. Radu explained that he had looked into Scaleway cloud products and literally said that we “have an excellent price/performance ratio”. This was a great start to start the event!

(I’d like to pause a moment to point out that this actually happened! 😆)

During the two-day Kubernetes event, we were thrilled to meet new people, connect with existing customers, and to meet partners in our Startup Program. One of our existing customers, Jeroen Veldhorst, CTO of Avisi, told us that he is excited to visit the data centres that we built in a decommissioned nuclear fallout shelter. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Krzystof Baran, Kubernetes enthusiast andis CTO at Oasys—a Dutch biotech company in our startup program which develops a solution for genomics. These are just a few of the wonderful people that we encountered.

Conference Tribe

Every community has a sort of conference tribe, and these ephemeral situations often have a more stable population than might be expected. It’s not uncommon to run into people you only know from other conferences! To wit, I was thrilled to run into Marc Duiker, Senior Developer Advocate at Diagrid, who—like me—has a passion for technology, community-building, and 8-bit art. Marc sent along some observations.

I'm still quite new to the Kubernetes world so attending KCD AMS was a great way for me to learn more about how K8S is used in real life. I'm very interested in how companies go to production, and was eager to attend the sessions by speakers from Picnic, ING bank, and Rabobank. Across these three sessions I was impressed by the amount of work these teams have put in in order to have scalable and resilient systems running in production. What I found interesting about the Picnic session in particular was the level of orchestration required to control both the hardware—in the form of conveyor belts with crates of products—and software to manage orders and inventory. A lot of experimentation was involved to see how much latency the overall system could tolerate when moving from an on-premise system to a cloud-based solution. Honestly, if this were a Netflix series, I would watch it!

There were lots of great talks over the two days. One of the stand-outs for me was a session from Floor Drees, Staff Developer Advocate at Aiven, about the unsung travails of open source maintainers. Kubernetes, like so much of the software that makes the internet go, is open source—but while K8S benefits from being a CNCF project, most OSS projects are managed by small teams, or even just one person. Some of the world’s most-used Javascript packages, system libraries, and infrastructure tools are developed and maintained by people who have day jobs—Floor reminded us that, as an industry, we have a long way to go in recognising and supporting open source maintainers and volunteers.

Banks, Bureaucracy, and Belts

Speaking of Floor, she was kind enough to share some of her thoughts with us as well!

I thought it was really interesting to see two big banks represented as attendees, sponsors, and speakers! Adnan Hodzic, Lead Site Reliability Engineer at ING, held a short but powerful presentation covering ING’s Machine Learning Platform and their two-year migration journey to Kubernetes. Also from ING, Robbin Siepman, Lead Developer, talked about their container hosting project. Cherwin Nooitmeer, SRE at Rabobank, also spoke on the topic of their cloud transformation, open source adoption, and manual update strategy—which, surprisingly, has the powerful upside of giving them total control and awareness of versioning across the organisation.

From the public sector, Jurgen Allewijn and Dinant Paardenkooper, Cloud Native Architects at the City of Amsterdam, shed light on overcoming challenges using a managed Kubernetes service in the public cloud in a secure and multi-tenant way, but with the added challenge of having to comply with local government regulations, too!

Finally, I really enjoyed Gijs van der Voort, SRE Lead and Python ambassador at Picnic (a groceries delivery service in the Netherlands). He talked about what it takes to control 14 kilometres of conveyor belts in their automated warehouses—and about how Picnic went from Cloud first, to on-prem, and back again! An honest story about the difficulties in discovering what one is good at, and then focusing on that.

In closing, I’d like to thank all of the organisers of the event, as well as the sponsors—without whom the event couldn’t have happened—and, of course, everybody who came! A tech conference is nothing without the community that attends.

See you next time! 👍

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