Dockercon 2018 – Drinking Docker from a Firehose

Hello World

That’s a wrap! Docker hosted the world’s largest container conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco this year, drawing an estimated 6,000 attendees. A wide variety of skills and disciplines showed up this week ranging from those just dipping their toes in the cloud native waters to Docker Captains navigating the vast oceans of containerization. Developers, operations, managers, executives, students, and all the various roles within some of the most notable companies in the world showed up to share, discuss, learn, and advocate for what is arguably one of the largest movements the technical world has ever seen.

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This was my first Dockercon as an Instana employee, Docker Captain, speaker, and contributor. I personally had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with hundreds of people about their journeys and walked away with a sense of pride as I recognized the same excitement that I had when I first realized how Docker had such a monumental role to play in democratizing, simplifying, and commoditizing the process of software development.

Developers, Developers, Developers

DockerCon has traditionally been, from its inception, a community first conference. Docker has gone to great lengths to maintain that focus even through some major transformations over the past two years. They continue to support the community through sponsoring over 200 meetup groups – this includes sending out presenters, resources for organizers to lead workshops, and swag: t-shirts, stickers, balloons. Docker has definitely grown up over the past couple years but as a community leader, I can personally vouch that their support for software engineers around the globe has accelerated alongside their growth.

Over half of the people I spoke with at DockerCon were software engineers, architects, developers, managers and most of them were leaders in their organizations. These champions have had an unmistakable impact in how their organizations conceive, build, and deliver software. Most of them were new to the cloud native landscape, had heard about the benefits of 12 factor applications, containerization, and digital transformation and were here to learn more about it.

Docker Product Announcements

Docker has been increasing momentum with their Docker Enterprise offerings, and their CEO Steve Singh mentioned they have a chance to break triple digit millions in bookings this year. What will certainly help accelerate them is their announcement about federated Kubernetes and support for container workloads running on Windows deployed via K8s. These are both major accomplishments as the community is still trying to sort out how to deliver these features in the open source version of K8s.

Perhaps you’re asking, what is federation? This feature will allow cluster managers the ability to run multiple K8s clusters in different datacenters and providers, including AWS, GCE, and Azure. It will provide a single interface where their applications can be deployed across the globe. Docker developed this capability based on the feedback from nearly 500 existing global 10,000 companies that are running production workloads on their Enterprise container platform.

Docker Hallway Tracks

This was by far my favorite part of the conference. Docker started organizing these last year in Austin and it was such a treat to participate this year by leading 4 different 15-person groups on topics such as logging and monitoring, covering the most popular tools in use today like Elasticsearch, Prometheus, Grafana, Open Tracing and Jaeger. Many were excited to hear about these tools, and as they begin to use them and share their experiences with everyone more people can learn about these fantastic tools.

I walked away from these discussions with a better understanding of how the community was dealing with the new demand for increased observability. I heard the story of how proof of concepts worked so well that they almost immediately started delivering production services on their new dockerized platform. This is awesome! Those same very frustrated people told me they did so without monitoring in place. Not so awesome!

Docker Expo Hall

First, I want to give a shout out to the real heros of this years Exposition Hall – the people who were stuck behind the pin dispensing wall at the Docker booth. This is the first year where I limited my swag gathering to only a few t-shirts (no really, just 3 t-shirts). My favorite shirt had to have been the “RUN K8S” logo being handed out by Digital Ocean. Their enameled shark pins and stickers were pretty cool too. Also, the laptop that came with my new job is now properly covered with stickers. Thank you DockerCon!

I didn’t spend as much time in the expo hall as I have during past conferences, I can only attribute this to having scheduled so many hallway tracks, meetings, and an Ecosystem Talk. I did have a chance to stop and have a chat with the folks behind logz.io and learn about their community / free tier. If you’re looking for a log analytics solution which has an awesome free tier, check them out.

Docker Workshops

Docker scheduled eight 2-hour workshops on the schedule this year and they were among the first sessions to fill up. The longer session format afforded the presenters to have ample time to cover a much broader scope of activities and in most cases were hands-on lab style presentations. I had the opportunity to help out with the “Migrating Java Apps to Docker” repeat session on Friday and it was incredible seeing a room full of engineers all working together to migrate their app and then begin the process of refactoring it for cloud-nativeness. Some great questions were asked during the session around monitoring, alerting, and logging.

Some of the labs even used Play With Docker, a really cool hack which emerged at last years DockerCon, and while it struggles to keep up with hundreds of attendees trying to follow along in the workshops I’m hopeful that over the next several months the community will continue to contribute to the project and it will become more robust and scalable for DockerCon EU.

Summary

The energy at DockerCon was high, there were a flood of newcomers this year and what felt like a majority of them were software developers. I was in Copenhagen this year for KubeCon, and perhaps some of the veterans have graduated, where I noticed the attendees were operational engineers and hardened container mavericks. I also observed that the folks coming in were hungry for knowledge, insight, and guidance since they’ve recognized the world is now adopting containerization as the defacto standard for collaborating, developing, and shipping applications in the latter half of this decade.