Anton McConville
Digital Designer & Developer
Kubecon Europe Reflection

Thought I’d jot down a few notes about reflections and observations of KubeCon Europe 2019

I didn’t attend as many sessions as I’d like - about half my time at the conference was spent either preparing to speak at the IBM mini theatre, speak at the mini theatre or help at the booth - there to work … so these are thoughts about the few sessions I was able to attend …

Mental Health in Tech - Dr Jennifer Akullian

Was happily surprised to see this on the agenda of a cloud technology conference. Even happier to see it so well attended. I’ve been managing a development team for almost two years now, and try to be conscious of the human challenges, as well as the work challenges we face - they’re real. So I welcome any insight into the subject of mental health in technology.

Jennifer recounted a few personal stories and perspectives. She shared some eye opening statistics about the rates and weights of mental health challenges in the tech workplace, and gave a few pointers of advice.

Definitely a talk to watch again when the videos are posted.

Strategies to ‘Kubernetify’ Legacy Applications - Sai Vennam

Sai is an IBM colleague - I’ve been lucky to collaborate with him on a couple of projects. In this talk he sped through a few examples from ‘lift and shift’ to extending a classic Java application to Kube. It was very well done, with a slick performance from Sai - he certainly has a gift for this :)

The hall was large and packed - which provides a clue that the developer world has an appetite for this subject. One of my own talks was about app modernization, and I detected a similar hunger from my much smaller crowd about approaches and case studies.

Would recommend Sai’s video when it is posted.

Testing Your K8s Apps with Kind - Benjamin Elder & James Munnely

A minimal, but very informative presentation about unit and integration testing of Kube apps. Kind is a fast, lightweight, cross platform and ‘hermetic’ tool for running tests.

Another good talk - clear, concise, and useful. Impressive.

Chaos Debugging - Idit Levine & Mitch Kelley

Began with the funny because true observation that we replaced our monolith with micro services so that every outage could be more like a murder mystery.

They shared a few tools to debug in real time, which if they can be set up as easily as they claim, look super useful and fun to work with …

Squash for real time Debugging

Another called ServiceMesh? which is not open source yet, but which allows requests to be recorded.

And another called Gloo which I have to admit my brain was already too overwhelmed and impressed by Squash to tune into. It was a jam packed but very decent presentation. Would recommend a view when posted.

Building Cross Cloud ML Pipelines - Holden Karau & Trevor Grant

The presenters shared a link for a forthcoming book

I’m really interested in machine learning, and regret not having more time to really immerse in it. I was hopeful that this talk was going to be a practical walkthrough, but it was a somewhat jovial, and anecdotal list of steps, I felt for people a bit more clued into the topic. So I was somewhat disappointed by this talk.

Building Cloud Native GDPR Friendly Systems - Zsolt Homorodi

I got a lot out of this talk. I’m usually not a one for bullet pointed slides, but with such a nebulous topic of GDPR, I felt that they really worked this time, to introduce the relevance and challenges for developers.

The talk was in a couple of parts - the first part introduced the reasons to care, and the operational boundaries of gathering data. This part alone makes a great presentation …

… which was good, because the second part was a demo that ran over the allotted time - it was the presenter’s first conference, and I don’t fault him for this, since it was generally a super useful and inspiring talk for me.

The presenter works at a government sponsored research organization in Finland - where they work hard to protect privacy and adhere to the rules. He mentioned that throughout Europe, during the first 9 months of GDPR approximately 50 million Euros in fines had been issued, with over 200,000 complaints of violations.

I found this site tracking some of the cases

I’m especially interested in this for some upcoming work, and think it makes a really fascinating and important topic for the future of cloud tech. Definitely a talk to look out for when posted.


In general I found the conference well organized, in an enormous venue. For me personally it was the second half of a long business trip to Europe … I was jaded in the the evenings from preparing my own three talks, or/and working my shifts at the booth … and then immersing in other people’s talks, so I regret not being more sociable this time around. I really wanted to get the most out of the work time I had there.

I was staying at a hotel closer to the city, so it took me 30 minutes on the train each day … and prepping for a half marathon the day after I returned to Canada … so distracted a bit.

Otherwise, I really valued the conversations at the booth, and the observations about my own projects ( which I’ll share more about in the coming months ). And I got a lot from these talks. Thanks to all who made it possible for me to travel, and for all of those who shared time and information with me :)