KCD post by Matteo Bianchi, Marcel Kerker and Carlos Mestre del Pino

Less than a year ago some of us attended our first Kubernetes Community Day ever, in Amsterdam and we would never have guessed that some months later we would have started contributing as organizers of KCD Utrecht 2023.

What is this KCD?

Quoting CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation)

“KCDs are community-organized events that gather adopters and technologists from open source and cloud native communities for education, collaboration, and networking.”

We are missing a big point here, they are FUN! Let me explain why.

Matteo’s start

I always loved communities. I used to be part of multiple online forums when I was a teenager, mostly about video games or music. When I started working in the IT industry, mostly as a consultant in a body-rental / body-shop fashion, I didn’t like anything revolving around IT, at all.

After my — long — working hours I (almost) never wrote a single line of open-source code, went to a meetup, answered to questions on Stack Overflow, joined a Slack channel… Let alone organizing an event. So, how did I start enjoying the community side?

As Sarah Gruneisen said during her wonderful opening keynote, “I stopped compromising on my values.”

Participants in the KCF Utrecht 2023 hall

This is part of the beautiful Cloud Native Dutch community, gathered to listen to Sarah’s keynote.

Since I started freelancing, almost 3 years ago now, I have opened myself up to my LinkedIn network, traveled and visited beautiful countries, contributed to open source software, attended meetups and conferences, shared my startup work… In short?  I dove right back into the community side of IT.

Screenshot of Github contributions in the last year

This is me now, still a long way to go but I find it to be a good starting point!

Back to the story, I met part of the people organizing KCD between a series of DevOps and Cloud Native meetups in October ’22 and at the end of February 2023, during the actual KCD event in Amsterdam. I bonded particularly fast with Alessandro Vozza, William Rizzo and Andrea Giardini, my beloved cloud native italians 🇮🇹 I started to attend more and more events to see these and get to know people around, to share ideas and to discuss over tech (but not only).

As some of you may know, my previous startup adventure ended in a layoff and I was hit, kind of hard. I have been holding up fine since then, but I still had to find a new purpose and the community came to my aid immediately. Every single person in those meetups cared about my job hunt and helped me in countless ways, I can never be thankful enough for this.

On top of all the help, after one of the meetups, Alessandro asked me to join the organizing committee for KCD Utrecht this year and I could never say no to a community call at that point, so I gladly accepted.

I take everything as a challenge and I accept them, even if I am not sure I will succeed, because I believe in “fail fast” and other principles, usually applied in software engineering, to be also fairly good for real life.

KCD through Carlo’s eyes

KCD Utrecht’s first edition gathered the industry leaders, engineers, managers and students from the Randstad and beyond, and it was, to say the least, an event full of knowledge sharing, networking and community bonding.

With a focus on end-users and local community, 27 speakers from all different backgrounds were selected to share their experiences, findings and stories along their Kubernetes and cloud-native journeys.

Sarah Gruinesen opened the event with her keynote about empowering teams, avoiding micromanagement, and the balance of leadership. 

From technical talks on Service mesh, Edge Computing, and Databases on k8s, to multi-cloud, stateful workloads, WebAssembly, Platform Engineering, IDPs and last but not least, security as well!

Just before the closing keynote, lightning talks in one track, and contributor’s panel on the other one, they served as a good moment.

Shoutout to Ronald and Jan, hosts of De Nederlandse Podcast for setting up a corner in which they interviewed diverse attendees for future episodes. This added another level of engagement to the event.

What KCD means to Marcel

It was my second Kubernetes Community Days this year. I was also an organizer at the KCD Amsterdam on 23 and 24 February in the WesterUnie in Amsterdam. KCD Utrecht was in the Jaarbeurs of Utrecht, a great conference center, located in Utrecht’s city center.

On the day of the event, one of the tasks I had was to arrange everything for the sponsors.
We had eight great sponsors, each having their own table. I made a table index for the sponsors, and after solving some little issues for them, like a TV problem or an extra power point, the sponsors arranged their tables successfully.

On the day, you saw that many attendees had spoken with the sponsors and some sponsors gave away prizes in raffles.

The sponsors also had the possibility to give a short pitch on the main stage and at the end of the day, many of them told me they had a great time and a lot of interaction with our community.

Sponsors are an integral part of  KCDs, because they contribute a big part of the financial funding needed for these types of events.

Participants networking in the event hall

Another great moment was when I was asked to sit on a contributed panel. In this panel was also William Rizzo and Andrea Giardini, my Italian friends. We were interviewed by the Dutch Kubernetes Podcast crew, Ronald Kers and Jan Stomphorst. After we had an introduction of ourselves to the audience, by the question, “What do you do besides kubernetes, what are your hobbies for example?“ Then “hard” questions camelike, “This is not the first time that you are organizing this event, can you share some stories that keep you coming back for more”, “What is in it for you? Why do you invest your time in Kubernetes? Events and technologies?” and “What are the best ways to connect with the community?” And of course, the last question: “What is the future of the Kubernetes Community days?” That question I answer is that we will organize in 2024 of course a very good new KCD. After that we got some great questions from the audience. Afterall it was fun to do, we had a lot of laughs and the audience enjoyed the panel.

William Rizzo, Marcel Kerkel and Andrea Giardini give talk on the stage
From left to right: Our Italian friends, William Rizzo, Marcel Kerker, and Andrea Giardini

From chaos to matter

When we joined we all realized that we needed to organize everything in just 2 months and that felt quite overwhelming at the time and it was, until the very end! But we enjoyed every second of it.

Of course we had some tense moments, especially because most of us were both organizing and juggling between our daily jobs, interviews, kids, partners and well, life.
Misunderstandings can happen but we overcame them in the best way possible…over dinner!

Group picture having dinner in the restaurant

Selecting a venue, sizing the catering in advance, contacting companies and organizing sponsorships, signing contracts, sending invoices, reviewing and accepting CFPs, figuring out backups, building and updating a website, create social media campaigns, printing and delivering stickers to meetups, organizing dinners and calls, handle track changes, coordinating volunteers, craft badges, set up video and audio equipment and boom.

It’s showtime.

Carlos and Matteo showing their name tag to the camera
Carlos and Matteo awake since 6:00am getting the event ready

Throughout The Day

Matteo and Luca volunteered to be the second track MC for the morning shift.
We were kind of nervous since we are not big time public speakers like some of the other organizers. Regardless, we were trusted with a mic (not to sing unfortunately) and a tight schedule to adhere to. In the end we have been super lucky, all of our wonderful speakers did such a good job by themselves. They never went overtime, had no issues when switching laptops and we ended up just introducing them shortly to leave room for their amazing show! They really shined and shared such powerful and interesting talks, you could feel the passion and the effort they have put into those.

The Content

We learnt about Multi-Cloud with Nico Krijnen, what the Dutch Tax Office is doing for Platform Engineering and Open Source with Jan Willem van Hermon and Sebastiaan Mannem, how to use the CLI with Erwin de Keijzer, Postgres in Kubernetes with Maxim Burgerhout, migrating k8s with ease thanks to Raja and Soumyadipta, how to leverage IDPs by Kasra Amirsarvari and then my favorite: lightning talks!

Marco Verleun shared quick tips to get rid of CVEs, Louëlla Creemers explained Docker and Kubernetes how we needed to hear when we first started, Serdar Kalaycı brought the 12 factor apps in Kubernetes and Jan Karremans convinced us to (maybe) use databases in k8s.

The Crowd

What a brilliant bunch of techies crowding the event!

They asked a ton of questions — we even had to interrupt some of these Q&A sessions to stay on schedule.

We suggest you watch the videos from track one as well. Check out the entire playlist on YouTube!

Andrea and Shweta gave talk about "Trying to emulate new capabilities on old technology" on stage
Andrea and Shweta talking about Service Meshes, in room 1, how cool!

Weeks of effort flew by in just a couple of hours, it was super fast and now… the closing keynote!

Sevi shared a part of her personal journey with us, both on stage during this wonderful keynote and off stage as organizer of the event. Some of us found our personal journeys to be a bit similar to Sevi’s, at least for the part where the community helped and supported us through hard times, asking nothing in return and giving the world.

We can do so much with our small acts, being kind to each other and being true to ourselves, and to our values.

Sevi gave talk about Community on the stage

(not) the end

Time to wipe our tears of joy, clean up and then drink!

After-event-drinks with a mix of speakers, sponsors, attendees and organizers 😛

Thanks to our wonderful speakers (+ Erwin and Soumyadipta that substituted last minute, unsung heroes!) We missed Giuseppe and Nirav but we’ll see them next time for sure.

Thanks to all the sponsors and people at the booth, the venue staff, the over 400 attendees and last but not least: thanks to a dream come true.

Group picture on the stage

This is us! — source: https://twitter.com/cloudnativeams/status/1730623348529402014/photo/1

From left to right:
Catalin, William, Saif, Pablo, Sevi, Luca, Marcel, _me_, Carlos, Pavel, Rajesh, Alessandro, Jos (our star from the organizing committee of DevOpsDays), Serkan.
We missed Fahd, Meg and Karla a lot and even if they could not be there with us they worked so hard to make this happen.

A special thanks to Erycka and Natasha for helping out at the registration desk, social media and more! To Andrea for joining us for the community panel and for involving me in the Cloud Native meetup community, back in October 2022. To Robin and Ninette for professional pictures (coming soon). To Salomao also known as “the best audio/video technician ever”. To Mickey for the design of our logo. Last but not least: to every single attendee, of course!

The coolest thing about these events is that we come together with all our different backgrounds, cultures, job titles, interests and peculiarities and we build something for our community, we give back, we share and we care.

See our transparency report for some data about the event!

If you want to join us and the KCD community, feel free to hop on the CNCF Slack and hit us up, we can help you find your local chapter so you can help organize events like KCD Utrecht in your city/region/country! ❤

What a ride! 

Reminder to go to Paris for KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2024, we are organizing Kubetrain with support from the CNCF. Departing from Amsterdam the 18th of March, passing by Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels and there are other routes too!

We need sponsors and most importantly we need people interested in traveling sustainably to KubeCon while also having lots of fun!

See you there, full steam ahead! 🚂