Ambassador and KCD post by Annalisa Gennaro, CNCF Ambassador, on behalf of and together with the KCD Italy Team

What are KCDs?

Kubernetes Community Days (KCDs) are events supported by the CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) and organised by local communities to spread knowledge and create spaces for sharing and discussion on all open source and Cloud Native topics.

Why a KCD Italy?

In Italy, the KCD has so far been organised by a group of people and companies gravitating around the city of Milan – although the shared idea is to make it itinerant and propose a ‘KCD Italy – The Roadshow’ starting in 2024.
This start-up group felt the need to fill a void in the Italian scene: there was still too little and not satisfying talk about Cloud Native; a KCD represented the right opportunity to spread knowledge, gather the Italian community and create a connection with the CNCF. And so it was.

After a couple of years exclusively online, in 2023 we brought people to meet again in presence in a location with a special meaning, a place with a crazy history behind it, and representing a portal between past and present through constant innovation. The “Officine del Volo”, which occupies the historic industrial complex of the former Officine Aeronautiche Caproni, Milan’s legendary aircraft-building factory, is a unique example of industrial archaeology and thus an unintentional metaphor for legacy modernisation, the heart of many cloud-native projects. Beautiful parallelism, isn’t it?

Another couple of curiosities? Their story is connected to the figure of engineer Gianni Caproni who, on 27 May 1910, flew the ‘first flying machine’. An incredible character who was also mentioned in Miyazazki’s film ‘The Wind Rises‘. But that’s not all: the very name of the Ghibli studio comes from the name of a twin-engine aircraft developed by the Caproni company, the Caproni ca.309 Ghibli.

Very good premises for hosting an event intended to be more than just a space dedicated to technical content. We hope we made it felt and gave everyone attending a memorable experience.

What happened at the KCD Italy 2023?

We had fun! And we managed to share quality content (also from the feedback we received live and through the survey sent out post-event), which makes us particularly happy. The 2023 edition had virtually no drop-offs: 210 attendees out of 233 tickets issued! In other words, a great success, although the galactic numbers of other KCDs were not repeated. 

The 12 talks took place in one day (out of more than 60 CfPs, mainly from European countries), on two separate tracks, alternating with lightning speeches for our sponsors, for whom the only constraint was to present speeches that were of interest to the community – we all agree that products are essential, but we always want to try to avoid blatant sales pitches.

Did we encounter difficulties in the months of organisation? 

Yes, there is no point in hiding it.

There were the financial issues (what a struggle to find sponsors and generous sponsors!), administrative issues (we need a super partes fiscal entity to manage cash flows in and out, and to sign contracts), calls, meetings, external partners, the ticketing platform (because Bevy was not yet set up to cover Europe), issues related to the CNCF platform that manages the CfP and the selection of speakers (we had some problems due to curious workings of the platform itself and due to our specific knowledge).

And there was also difficulty in involving different interest groups whose participation could guarantee a multiplicity of voices. It was challenging to make the right waves, to ignite engagements, to reach people without forcing them. These are delicate and complex issues for which we obviously have no unique or sure answer. There is a desire on the part of the team to have new people on stage, from different backgrounds and affiliations, but we don’t want to do it as if there were vacant spaces to fill.

We could have done better, undoubtedly, but we are happy with the results: two talks by two non-male speakers selected (although there was a waiver), two women as MCs (a community manager with no technical background and a developer and evangelist, an excellent mix of approaches and skills for moderating, in short), and many women among the attendees.

Certainly, this live event and post-event feedback made us realise that we need to work on integrating two underrepresented groups in this edition: students and minorities. A goal we will do our best to achieve, with a good dose of realism considering the demographics of this industry in Italy. However, we are proud to have achieved a goal, in our own small way: the organisers team sees an equal distribution of roles between the genders and several different backgrounds, which guarantees a higher rate of diversity. Any input from you who are reading to help us achieve this goal at the KCD level is not only welcome but sought after!

What now?

Well, we team realigned and started with the organization of the next edition. Where and how? We cannot reveal that yet, but we will certainly do so shortly. 

If you want to bring your talk to Italy or sponsor this event in such a wonderful land, please contact us. We await you with open arms, pizza, and beer on hand.