DockerCon 2018

Posted by khrishan on 2018-12-09


In December 2018, I attended my first every 'tech' conference.

I like to think I'm very 'selective' with my conference choices. Many of my colleages, try to go to every conference they can get away with.

I can see why.

Going to conferences :

  • takes you away from your day job,

  • may involve travel abroad,

  • all your expenses are paid for,

  • free merch / swag,

  • and so on.

Personally, I only really wanted to go to conferences that could add value to me. I've been working with Docker and Kubernetes, wholeheartedly, since I've started work after graduation. This made going to DockerCon an obvious choice.

It's been a really good conference. Not perfect by any means, nevertheless, really really good.

Here's my day to day diary :


Argubaly the best day of the conference, but also the most annoying day of the conference.

The sessions were great... so long as you got in them.

Long story short, if you paid more money, you could come and do the 'Docker Fundamentals' training - which I didn't pay for, as I didn't need it. But some of the workshops afterwards, that had 'live demonstrations' or workshops that were available for anyone to register for.

They were all full when I went to register. :(

This meant waiting in the 'waitlist line', which was long (and actually quite draining). Due to the vast amount of attendees and only 6 sessions on Monday (3 lots of 2 sessions), if you didn't get in the queue early, you missed out on the session.

This meant queueing right after one session ended, which meant missing out on lunch, or getting a drink.

Another reason why they were full was that there were only 70 seats per session! With 2000+ people attending the conference, only being able to hold 140 people at a time is quite an oversight.

Having said that, the workshops were very good. They allowed those who attended to log into an interactive session and work along with the presenter. Using Docker within the session!

Also, things worked! (which makes a change from most 'live demonstrations')

I attended the 'Converting .NET Applications to Docker' talk and the 'Container Storage Concepts' - both of which were engaging.

I missed out on the third session I wanted to go to - but thankfully was being repeated on Wednesday (which I managed to squeeze myself into).


Main Conference Day!

Keynote was this day, led by the CEO & Chariman of Docker, Steven Singh.

As part of the keynote, there were lots of live demos (most of which worked). This may have something to do with the Spanish Grapes!

(Apparently, the Spanish have a ritual for luck which involves eaching grapes (you had to be there))

This day was more about the talks, less about the workshops. The main two talks that stood out for me were :

5 Patterns for Success in Application Transformation

This session was led by the same guy that did the 'Converting .NET Applications to Docker' session. He made a point about how legacy applications aren't necessarily built to allow a Docker container to expose all the information that any standard application built now would do.

He mentions simple 'utilites' that one should think about writing in order to make said legacy app work in today's ecosystem.

The five patterns are as follows :

#1 - Logs :

Know where the logs are being written It might be worth writing a 'log relay utility'.

#2 - Config

Have a default configuration (in the image) with a known file path. (This should be in the container). Have the config injected by platform. (Don't want someone to break the app later as the config is mounted).

#3 - Dependencies

Something that runs once before startup. It might be worth writing a 'dependency check' utility.

#4 - Health

Something that you run repeatedly which exercises app logic. It might be worth writing a 'health check' utility. Define a start_period, how many tries and intervals

By doing this, you create a “Self healing app…”.

#5 - Metrics

Something that runs in the background and exposes runtime metrics It might be worth writing a 'health check' utility.

Developing with Docker Containers

The ideas mentioned in the talk were quite simple but there was one thing that drew my interest.

Docker love to use a 'voting' app when trying to sell the benefits of Docker.

Take a look at the image below of the app's architecture.

Voting App Architecture

For what it is, it is amazingly over-engineered. Five different yet simple components written in five different languages/frameworks is beyond funny. However, the truth is that, this is something that tends to happen in corporate environments.

There's seperate UI teams, Database teams, API delivering teams etc etc. The benefit of Docker is that there is an overarching technology that allows these containers to talk to each other, using a common language.


Tuesday was also the day of the Docker Party - in which no expense was spared.

This photo pretty much sums up the experience.

View of all four clubs in a line, taken from the beach.

Docker had rented 4 of the biggest clubs in Barcelona, all of which were on the beach front. Free transport, free bar and free food in all of them, accompanied with live music, each club having different music.

Bloody good party, safe to say.


Final day of the conference. This meant more talks.

By this time, I was shattered. Most of the remaming talks I went to, were trying to sell us a product or a service. One annoying example was where someone put 'Machine Learning' into their title, then spent the whole session selling their product. Safe to say I wasn't impressed.

Security Context in Kubernetes

This was the workshop I was trying to attend on Monday but didn't get into. I'm so glad that I did eventually get to this session.

The first hour was spent going through, what I'm guessing most of the room thought were, security basics. How to get different users to have different permissions on certain folders... and so on. It was amazing! It was also really good having a live demonstration and being able to follow along with the instructor. Amazing!

The GitHub link to his talk can be found here :

So that was my DockerCon 2018. Here are a few takeaways :


  • As much as I believe you should only go to the sessions that you think you will benefit the most from, how will you know which ones will benefit you? The title of the session will only tell you so much. In any case, if its boring or not valuable, you can always leave early!

  • Come prepared with snacks + water! The waiting I had to do on Monday meant that I couldn't go to the food hall and get something to eat or drink - which was super frustrating when the end of the day arrived. (I was starving!)

  • You only get out of them what you put in - which means talking to people :( (Something that I hate doing).

  • Stickers are like gold dust! If you have a booth at tech conference, give out free stickers!

Thanks for reading :) x