Diversity Scholarship Series: An Opportunity to Learn and Grow

By March 4, 2019 Blog

CNCF offered diversity scholarships to developers and students to attend KubeCon + CloudNativeCon China 2018. In this post, Surbhi Aggarwal shares her experience as a first time KubeCon attendee and the immense technical benefits she took away from the event. Anyone interested in applying for the CNCF diversity scholarship to attend KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2019 in Barcelona May 20-23, can submit an application here — applications are due March 11th — and anyone interested in attending KubeCon + CloudNativeCon China 2019 in Shanghai June 24-26, can submit an application here — applications are due April 15th.

By Surbhi Aggarwal, Statistical Analyst at Cvent

Recently, I got an opportunity to attend Kubecon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 hosted at Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Washington on Dec 11- 13 2018. This event is organized by @CNCF which is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing the development of cloud native technology. I am immensely grateful to The Linux Foundation, Wendi West for providing me an opportunity to be a part of this event and @PranavJain for introducing me to KubeCon, this experience has greatly contributed to my knowledge, growth, and perspective. It gave me an opportunity to learn from experts and experience the vast use cases of Kubernetes.

Kubecon was my first ClouNative conference that too on foreign land, 7021 miles away to be specific. That said, I was full of eagerness and enthusiasm to get most out of it. I reached Seattle after 25+ hours of traveling which seemed nothing after the first glance of  Kubecon’s Poster at the Seattle Airport itself. Somehow it added more to my world of thoughts revolving around the magnitude of Kubecon.

On Day 1, I attended Keynotes by Liz Rice, Michelle Noorali, Aparna Sinha and a few more eminent personalities from the CloudNative world. Seeing the majority of Keynotes being delivered by women was quite surprising and motivating as well. The Hall was full with around 8000 people which felt like Washington State Convention Centre was being the most intellectual playground in the world at that time.

Before this, I did not have any idea how strong the cloud-native community is and that Kubernetes is growing at such a quick pace. When Liz Rice shared numbers highlighting Kubecon being trending on the internet even more than Seahawk and Manchester United, I was filled with ecstasy on being a part of this whole event. Realizing the power of Kubernetes from so many speakers, I was so motivated to learn more and more about it and to start using it in my day to day work.

Following keynotes, I attended a few interesting and informative sessions on the topic of Machine Learning. I was more interested in understanding the usage of Kubernetes in ML driven applications and how it can be helpful while deploying the ML model at a beginner level. That’s why most of the talks I attended were around the topic of ML and AI and were of Beginner/Intermediate level. Each talk that I attended introduced me to a new technology that uses Kubernetes in a way which I could relate to my work around ML.

I attended Machine Learning Model Serving and Pipeline using KNative talk by @AnimeshSingh & Tommy Li from IBM where they explained about Knative which is an open source project by Google, Pivotal and other companies. They explained how Knative helps in building automated and event-driven AI pipelines enabling triggers at every stage of the process.

The day kept growing intense with more sessions, presentations, networking and the new topics I was being introduced to.Session on Machine Learning as Code: and Kubernetes with KubeFlow by@aronchick from Google is among my favorites. I have used TensorFlow in the past but wasn’t aware of KubeFlow per se, this session helped me to understand the usability of Kubeflow and how it makes it easy for everyone to develop, deploy and manage portable, distributed ML on Kubernetes. After this session, I was really intrigued by Kubeflow that I have already started learning about it from Katacoda.

I was pretty much sold on the adoption of Kubernetes beforehand, but in the talk ‘Why Data Scientists Love Kubernetes’ by @SophieWatson from Red Hat, I understood its use cases more in detail.

I concluded my Day 1 with keynotes and  #IceCubeCon concert by @mesosphere which was the best conference party ever. I got to see IceCube so closely, got some really cool swag and not to forget  “Ain’t no party like a KubeCon party cause a KubeCon party doesn’t stop”.

Next day, I attended Keynotes by Liz RiceJason McGee.

After the Keynotes, I attended a few talks, where I learned about How blackrock is automating research environments and scaling data science workflows.

Mathew Magaldi & @VaibhavPage talked about how they used Kubernetes along with Jupyter Notebook API to automate research environments and scaling data science workflows at BlackRock.

Another talk I thoroughly enjoyed was Predictive Application Scaling with Prometheus and ML by  @ChrisDutra, he is the Director of Site Reliability Engineering at Schireson, a data science consulting and engineering firm. His talk made me understand how he developed a method to move Data Science processes to Production.

I got the chance to meet some incredible people at Diversity Lunch where I loved the energy of @KrisNova from Heptio, she was so succinct in her ideas, everything of her was inspiring to me, I liked the level of detail and the clarity she possessed while communicating her ideas.

At the lunch table, we were 7 women with different backgrounds. There were a number of hot topics that we discussed. We had conversations around various topics ranging from challenges at the workspace, best-negotiating practices pertaining to compensation. We further talked about our first involvement with technology, motives behind Kubernetes and what are our key take away from the conference. It was so captivating for me to experience how everyone was willing to help each other in any possible way. I made amazing friends at the table @RiaBhatia@CatherineShen@MaryumStyles.

At last, I attended the all attendee party which was hosted at Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens which was the highlight of the day. Thank you KubeCon for the magnificent party, It was a surreal experience for me as if I was playing some character in Silicon Valley Tv Series only where I had seen events of these size with parties hosted at the best attractions of the city. I got the chance to visit the top of the space needle and I still have the breathtaking view captured in my eyes. I can tell you, Kubecon gets bigger not only every year but every day of the conference as well.

On the last day of the conference after the keynotes, I spent most of the time at sponsor booths. I haven’t seen an event of this level where there were close to 200 sponsors. The booth stall was no less than a candy parlor is for a kid. I got to meet a lot of folks from different companies and learned how are they leveraging Kubernetes. It was so interesting to learn from the team of DatadogInfluxdataNew RelicIguazio and many more about their projects involving Kubernetes and other projects of CNCF. Also, it was surprising to see the presence of companies like NordstromWeWork among the sponsors. These companies are known to me for a totally different line of business which for me are not related to technology. After talking to them I realized how big these companies are when it comes to technology and how they are using Kubernetes as well. This clearly gives an example of the enormity of Kubernetes.

While it was very knowledgeable to learn about different companies, I thoroughly enjoyed collecting some really cool schwag. Thanks to all sponsors for being so innovative even with schwag. I also tried my luck at the raffle carnival with eye-catching giveaways at almost every sponsor booth but it looked like luck turned its back towards me that day. As the conference reached its LAST Keynote, it was disheartening but every experience I had, filled me with hope and positivity at a great extent.  Finally, I bid goodbye to Kubecon North American 2018 with a toast at a party hosted by AWS at Pike’s Brewery.

Overall, Kubecon was a tremendous experience for me. Before this conference, I wouldn’t have been able to talk about Kubernetes or other Cloud Native Projects with confidence. Here, I discovered several new software projects that are likely to help me at my work. Coming back to India, while sharing my experience with my friends, work network and different community members I could see how people were really interested in learning about cloud native projects. Kubecon has given me exposure to limitless opportunities, leading to my personal as well as professional development. The overall experience was a great inspiration, and I am excited to put these ideas into action. With this, I look forward to KubeCon Barcelona’19. Thank you KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, North America 2019!