#165 October 21, 2021

Engineering Effectiveness and KubeCon NA 2021, with Jasmine James

Hosts: Craig Box, Jimmy Moore

Jasmine James is an Engineering Manager within the Engineering Effectiveness organization at Twitter, focused on their internal developer experience. She is also the latest co-chair of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, starting with the North America event last week. Jasmine joins us to talk about being in the same room as other people - up to 3,000 of them - for the first time in a long while.

The cover art for this show is courtesy of the CNCF and licensed under CC-BY.

Do you have something cool to share? Some questions? Let us know:

Chatter of the last wee while

News of the recent past

CRAIG BOX: Hi, and welcome to the Kubernetes Podcast from Google. I'm Craig Box with my very special guest host, Jimmy Moore.


CRAIG BOX: The Kubernetes enthusiast was spoiled for choice last week. As well as KubeCon in North America and online, there was Google Cloud Next and SREcon. And there was so much to consume last week that we thought we'd delay a little bit and give you a retrospective-of-the-week instead.

JIMMY MOORE: It was a packed week for sure.

CRAIG BOX: It was. And because we were offline for a couple of weeks beforehand, we probably missed a few things we wanted to talk about. William Shatner went to space.

JIMMY MOORE: Oh, and I loved his response. His reaction was so charming and so great. I love that. In other big news this week, Adele announced a new album is coming, which is very exciting for me.

CRAIG BOX: You're a big Adele fan, I take it?

JIMMY MOORE: I love her, the voice. She's basically the emotions of our generation. Right? She's that. And not only that, but she sounds so regal and beautiful and has this great voice, but then when she talks in interviews she has this real accessible personality, I'll say.

CRAIG BOX: Swears like a sailor.

JIMMY MOORE: Absolutely. I love it. I love it.

CRAIG BOX: There are some people who have a different sound to when they speak and when they sing. It's like you would say Bono speaks with a very Irish accent. When he's singing it doesn't come across quite so much. But I will also point out that William Shatner has a new album out, and he's one person who basically sounds the same when he's singing as when he's speaking, because they really are the same thing.

JIMMY MOORE: Yeah, it's the iconic pattern in his voice and that tempo that he has. It's impressive.

CRAIG BOX: We thought that the whole space thing was a bit of a lark to promote his new album, because it was announced that he had this album coming out and it was also rumored he was going into space. We thought, oh, no, they're just making that up to sell more copies or do more streams, or whatever it is we do these days. But, no, it was true.

JIMMY MOORE: Yeah. It turns out William Shatner's had albums for, what, 30, 40 years he's been doing albums? I had no idea.

CRAIG BOX: Oh, more than that. At least as long as Star Trek. It was 1968, apparently, that his first album came out.


CRAIG BOX: My favorite piece of William Shatner work is his 2004 album Has Been. Anyone who is familiar with the song Common People by Pulp, a great, big Brit pop hit from the 90s, there is an absolutely fantastic-- and I say this completely unironically-- a fantastic William Shatner cover version of that song on this album. I implore you to pause this podcast, load up Spotify or your streamer of choice, and go and listen to that song.

We're going to have a little bit of a change of schedule for the rest of the year. You'll hear more about the reason when it's all come through, which it should be in December, but what we're going to do is have a couple of special episodes for a few great upcoming launches that we want to highlight.

And we'll pick up again on the regular schedule in 2022. We have a great back catalog to catch up with. Otherwise, you could get lost in the rat hole of listening to William Shatner's recorded works. [LAUGHS] Either one. It's OK but me.

JIMMY MOORE: Don't forget about Adele. Her new album comes out in November.

CRAIG BOX: Both excellent choices. Should we get to the news?

JIMMY MOORE: Let's get to the news.


CRAIG BOX: Google Cloud's annual conference brought a number of new products and features based on the Anthos platform. Google distributed Cloud as a portfolio of hardware and software solutions extending GCP to the, quote, unquote, "Edge" and into yourIntuit data centers. Two versions were announced. Google distributed Cloud Edge as ideal for running local data processing, low latency compute workloads in a Google network location, a communication services provider, or in your own Edge location.

Google distributed Cloud Hosted does not require connectivity to GCP at any time, instead using a local control plane provided by Anthos. This makes it useful for air-gapped environments or where the control plane has to run in a particular jurisdiction. Edge is in preview now and Hosted will be available in the first half of 2022.

JIMMY MOORE: A common question for Googlers is, "you have Borg, but does Google run services on Kubernetes?" Well, other clouds don't have Borg, so Google's multi-cloud services are based on Anthos. One such service is BigQuery Omni, which brings analytics to data stored on AWS and Azure from the regular BigQuery interface. BigQuery Omni is now GA.

CRAIG BOX: Anthos for virtual machines was launched in preview. Workloads that you're not ready or able to move to containers can be managed either by attaching vSphere VMs or migrating the VMs onto Anthos running KubeVirt, which will be of special interest to people running on bare-metal. Whichever way you choose, you get consistent security and policies across clusters, visibility into the health and performance of your services, and traffic management for both VMs and containers.

JIMMY MOORE: Google also launched a preview of Managed Service for Prometheus. GKE users now have the choice between using Google's own logging and monitoring service or being part of the Prometheus ecosystem, including alerts, workflows, and Grafana dashboards without having to manage the environment yourself.

CRAIG BOX: Earlier this month, while we were having our little break and watching Shatner go to space, VMware held their VMworld conference. The top announcement from that event was a community edition of VMware Tanzu, a free distribution of the platform that you can run locally on Docker or VMware or in a cloud. VMware also announced Cartographer, a tool for not orchestrating but choreographing CI/CD, or as it's now being called, "the supply chain".

JIMMY MOORE: That brings us to KubeCon and CloudNativeCon. The CNCF organizers of the event announced almost 100 new members bringing the total to 725, a 40% growth since the start of 2020.

CRAIG BOX: For people starting this CNCF journey, a new Kubernetes and Cloud Native associate certification will test entry level knowledge and skills. To pass, you will need to know how to use kubectl, but you won't need to know how to pronounce it. The exam is now available in beta.

JIMMY MOORE: The Cilium project has joined the CNCF at the incubation level. Cilium is an eBPF powered container network interface discussed at length in Episode 133. Cilium is used by many different distributions and implementations of Kubernetes, including GKE, and has maintainers from Isovalent, Google, Red Hat, SUSE and Datadog.

CRAIG BOX: Two companies opened up a little more at KubeCon. TriggerMesh, a company working on open-source serverless when we spoke to them in Episode 28, have since focused more on integration between data and Cloud Native applications. The TriggerMesh platform was last week released as open source.

CICD providers Codefresh announced that they were pivoting to an open core model. While they would previously contribute some of their features back to Argo, the project that powered their platform, the new version will use open source Argo as its core with development done upstream and enterprise features separated out for their paying customers.

JIMMY MOORE: Results from a CNCF survey on security say that while 85% of people believe that security is very important to their organization, only 9% have a fully documented set of procedures, and 12% have no processes or policies for securing third-party services.

An interesting new startup has cycled into this space with the goal of making software supply chains secure by default. Chainguards' founding team includes previous guests Dan Lorenc and Kim Lewandowski. And I'm sure you'll be hearing more from them real soon.

CRAIG BOX: Finally, if you want some pictures to go with your Kubernetes history, Honeypot has launched a trailer for their upcoming Kubernetes documentary. With literally seven of nine people in the trailer being past guests of the show, and two of them wearing the same shirt, awkward, this documentary can, perhaps, best be summed up by a YouTube comment from Clayton Coleman's brother, John, who writes, "Finally, I have a video to send to my friends to explain what my brother does."

JIMMY MOORE: And that's the news.


CRAIG BOX: Jasmine James is an engineering manager within the engineering effectiveness organization at Twitter, focused on their internal developer experience. She is also a co-chair of KubeCon events, starting with the North America event last week. Welcome to the show, Jasmine.

JASMINE JAMES: Thanks so much, Craig, for having me. It's especially exciting on the tail end of KubeCon. I still am feeling that rush and adrenaline from meeting so many great people and hearing so many great talks. So I really appreciate your time today.

CRAIG BOX: Well, thank you. That's exactly what we wanted to start. It's been a few days now since the event. How do you feel about it, looking back?

JASMINE JAMES: It almost still feels surreal, because it's been so long since we've been in person, we've been able to connect with the community. So it's been really-- I don't know, still feels surreal. I'm looking at Twitter, I'm seeing how people felt about it. And especially going through the entire process of planning as a co-chair, looking at the abstracts, figuring out what the keynotes were going to be, it's really awesome to see how it came together and that people were very excited to see the content and meet again after so long.

CRAIG BOX: There are a number of emotions you can go through. There's the exhaustion of having had the success of the event and then, perhaps, there's also a bit of loss in the sense that this thing that you've put so much effort into is over, at least for now.

JASMINE JAMES: The exhaustion is real. I had to take a day to recover just mentally, physically after engaging so much. But I think that the beauty of a hybrid event is that now the content lives forever. So people can go back and take a look and really experience it in the same way that the majority of the people that participated in this KubeCon did. Because it was hybrid, there were more people virtually than there were in person. So I think that that's what really keeps me excited. Even though it's over, people can still see the content.

CRAIG BOX: Well, later on in the show we'll dig a little bit more into the story of the KubeCon. But first, I'd like to find a little bit more about your journey to that point. You grew up in Georgia?

JASMINE JAMES: Yes. I am an Atlanta native. So I grew up here, went to high school, college, actually have never lived anywhere else. Funny story is that I've been at Twitter for a year now. I took the job with the expectation of moving to New York. But, of course, the pandemic is still a pandemic and I've decided to stay put for now.

CRAIG BOX: Does Twitter have an engineering presence in Atlanta?

JIMMY MOORE: Engineering presence, yes. There are a few people that are based in Atlanta within the engineering organization. Our VP of Compute, Brian Black, is based here. And he's also the Atlanta site lead. But it's more so a Sales/Marketing hub in our office here. I actually am about 10 minutes from the office, so that's another reason I was like, oh, well, if I do stay now that we're remote, I at least have the option of going in and getting some adult interaction once the pandemic is over.

CRAIG BOX: Is Atlanta very much a tech city?

JASMINE JAMES: I feel like it's becoming one. I'm not sure how in tune you are with the growth here, but Google is growing here, as well as Microsoft.


JASMINE JAMES: And I think that folks within the pandemic are looking at Atlanta as a place to be-- from a cost-of-living perspective, it's dispersed out. It's really a great city with a lot of diversity, a lot of things to do. And of course, I'm biased being from here, but I hope that it's becoming one.

CRAIG BOX: And Atlanta has one of the higher percentages of Black population in the US. How has that impacted the choice of these businesses to set up tech hubs in that area?

JASMINE JAMES: I think that we've seen how diversity and inclusion have become a very big point for companies over the past year, or two years, just given the developments in the world. So I'm not sure what it's done for other companies, but I will say from a Twitter perspective, we're invested in growing in Atlanta because we have very transparent numbers on how we want to see our company become more diverse.

So investing in Atlanta, investing in even other areas, and making sure we're partnering with the right colleges, universities, and getting talent even before they're starting their career journey. Atlanta is a great place for that. There's a lot of culture here, a lot of people, so it's really a great place for a company to grow in that regard.

CRAIG BOX: When you were growing up and going to school, was a career in tech a thing that felt like it was available to you?

JASMINE JAMES: I actually started off early in my high school career going into the family business. My parents were heavy into real estate. So, of course, when you have a family business and things like that, that's usually the path that's set out for you.


JASMINE JAMES: But in early elementary school I took my first coding class and I got introduced to HTML. And I just really loved the complexities and being able to type out the HTML CSS and it resulting into something awesome. That stuck with me throughout my high school career. Started with classic engineering, with CAD drawings in that sense. And then I found computer engineering, which is what I eventually went to school for.

I kind of diverted a little off of the path, but my family always nurtured my interest. So it was always like, OK, this is what you're interested in, let's see how we can get you all the information you need to know about it to know if it's what you want to pursue for your life. That's the direction I chose.

CRAIG BOX: When you were at school doing that, you were working at retail AT&T for a while. Is that something that directly led into your first job out of school?

JASMINE JAMES: Yes. That, I worked through college my entire college career, which was a balancing act. But ultimately I think it helped me build up a lot of tenacity and multitasking and balancing. So I worked there for two years and that led into my role at AT&T corporate, which was a test automation role-- so writing in Java, using Selenium for automation of our web application and mobile application. That was my first introduction into standard software development.

And I think that it actually worked out pretty well because I went from intense customer service, like helping people with phones, selling, and things like that-- I took those same skills into software engineering, which is not a lot of what happens, right? Usually you don't get a lot of people interaction. You're coding.

So I honestly feel like that's what led me into being that experienced, focused person that I am, is because a lot of times customer service is based on that experience. You have to sell to people, you have to make sure they're having a great experience in order to make your numbers and goals. So I feel like that's where it all started.

CRAIG BOX: It's fantastic, in terms of mobile platforms especially becoming a thing that were ubiquitous for everyone to use. And I think there was a lot more energy and effort that needed to be put in. And I think that companies that have the balance between talking to people and then going and taking that information back to central are more likely to succeed.

JASMINE JAMES: Absolutely. It's very important that you have that continuous feedback loop and you're able to connect with empathy and get an understanding of that individual's perspective in order to make it result in something that's meaningful for them. So, agreed.

CRAIG BOX: As you were doing that job, how were you able to keep in touch with the end users who would end up using the products that you were testing?

JASMINE JAMES: That was the gap in the organization that I worked in at the time. That was one removed from me. I was writing these tests of these use cases but I was not necessarily the person that was interacting with the users. That was the product owner.

So I think that that was the gap. And ultimately, I think that that organization has brought it together a little more so that way the same people writing the test cases have the insight into the customer perspective. But at my time during the company I was a little removed from that.

CRAIG BOX: When did Kubernetes and Cloud Native enter your story?

JASMINE JAMES: That was during my time at Delta. And it all started with me moving to Delta from AT&T and starting to build up their modern toolchain. At Delta, historically, they've had mainframe development using tools like IBM Clear Case and home-grown build tools, so we needed to move to more modern tools in order to start to drive towards Cloud.

Kubernetes came into play. They brought in OpenShift and that was my first introduction to platform-as-a-service and container orchestration in general. And I really saw the power of it. But being at Delta, we had to re-architect applications in order to make it even workable, to use something like that. So it was a long journey to get there, but we worked through it over the course of three to four years.

CRAIG BOX: Are Delta as a company suffering from the same kind of thing that Corona, the beer manufacturer, were 18 months ago?

JASMINE JAMES: Absolutely. I don't know who picks these names, but, yeah. Although, I think Delta is recovering really well right now with vaccines in the world, trying to open back up safely.

CRAIG BOX: It's an unfortunate coincidence. I think they would probably have preferred the health people picked something different.

JASMINE JAMES: Exactly. Exactly. [LAUGHS]

CRAIG BOX: The roles that you were doing at Delta led to your role as an IT manager in the DevOps Center of Excellence. Is that where you started off with the concept of engineering effectiveness as a career path?

JASMINE JAMES: Well, I actually was a systems engineer on the same team, standing up those tools. And my boss got promoted and I became the manager of the same team that I was a part of. Engineering effectiveness had always been a part during my whole career at Delta, but I think that optimization of the current workflow really started as I became a manager.

Because as a systems engineer, you're standing up tools, you're trying to get things working and making sure the capabilities are available, but when you're trying to make that workflow more effective and more efficient you have to look at the entire picture. And that's what I did as a manager there.

CRAIG BOX: Is that working only with the technical stack, or are you worried about the people as well in this role?

JASMINE JAMES: People were, I think, the biggest part. It was a very heavy lift to transform the tools, but even a heavier lift to instill a DevOps mentality. You build it, you run it in production, whereas historically that was this very segmented process. You built these things, you had a deployment team, a release team, and there was really no insight or control over that. But now you're moving from, you own this container all the way through.

The cultural shift was the biggest. And we stood up a dojo where the teams came in and we tried to instill that cultural knowledge, the changes that would happen real-time as they were doing real work. So that, I think, was really effective, instead of providing them the documentation and the learning modules. It was on-time knowledge that was being conveyed, which really worked well for that type of transformation.

CRAIG BOX: There are a couple of different approaches that companies can take when it comes to transformation. A famous way of looking at the difference between the two is the idea of a company where each team can do whatever they want in program in whatever language they like as long as they're using a consistent API, versus a company where they basically mandate, here are the three programming languages you use and therefore anyone that gets hired can be relevant on any team when they come in.

When you're looking at those kind of changes, how do you decide where on that spectrum that you want to be and then how to be influential as a central team with all of the hub and spoke teams that the airline will have worldwide?

JASMINE JAMES: I think that it's not a one-time decision that you make. There's going to be a lot of data that you have to gather and synthesize in order to make those decisions. And it wasn't one thing that we decided to do. It was like, OK, let's make this decision right now, see how it works incrementally and adjust, because there's going to be new things that we discover as we drive adoption, as we discover new use cases, as we figure out how people are innovating.

So it was very key to maintain a flexible mindset. On the opposite side of the coin, you also have the regulatory aspect, or the consistency, that you have to maintain from a security perspective. There's things that were non-negotiables that we had to incorporate, too. So it's about finding that balance. And it's going to be different for every organization, I think, for every industry, I think, too.

CRAIG BOX: Did you find that there were people that had their identity in the tools that ended up eventually being replaced?

JASMINE JAMES: Absolutely. Especially for a company like Delta that is, I believe, coming up on their 100th year as a company.

CRAIG BOX: I'll send them a cake.

JASMINE JAMES: [LAUGHS] OK. I remember someone celebrating their 40th service anniversary. Imagine being a part of a company for that long and experiencing the entire evolution. It's absolutely part of that. I think there are a lot of early adopters, though, that were very keen on improving things, as well. It's just a matter of talking to those people who are excited about it.

We used to call them the kickers and screamers, people who didn't want to move over to the new things, and really selling it. Making sure they understand the impact and packaging it in the right way and dealing with that later down the line, after it was mature, after you have very well-defined practices, and the barrier of entry is low.

CRAIG BOX: The airline industry are famous for the longevity of their systems. If you have your 40th service anniversary person and they've been working on mainframes their entire career, is this still a relevant position for them to do that or do you need to effectively change what some people work on as you make this transformation?

JASMINE JAMES: I think that the nature of the work changes a little bit. It's all about making sure that there is a path defined for a person that had that persona over to the new way of working. And that's what the dojo was there for, is making sure that path was defined and clear and it wasn't this person embarking on it on their own. They had coaches that could help them through real-time answering questions.

Because I think that once it becomes insurmountable, it's like, I don't know how to get from A to B. People are not happy. And it's all about making sure people are happy with the work they're doing and they are enabled to do that.

CRAIG BOX: As the pandemic has reshaped how we work and, in large part, where we work, has the engineering effectiveness work led to an ability for people to continue in a way that they might not have been able to for a larger company, if they hadn't made those transformations beforehand?

JASMINE JAMES: I believe that, yes, by focusing on the effectiveness of engineers pre-pandemic, I do think that those engineers who have organizations, or even companies that I've worked in, people are not facing as much trouble as they probably would have, had we not focused on it. But I do think that there's a long way to go, still.

We've all seen how working from home on different bandwidth speeds, all of the video calls that we do, there's even hardware implications that we have to think about these days, locally. I think that there are still things that we need to focus on improving. I can think of a few things even in my day-to-day job that we're looking at right now and making it better.

It's not something that we can say, oh, yeah, we're good. It's going to be continuous. And it should be. Even if there was not a pandemic going on, we should always look towards continuously improving that environment. There's new emerging languages, there's new capabilities that are out there that we should always be examining how they would improve that experience for internal users anyway. So I think that as long as companies take that approach continuously, it'll continue to get better for folks who are using these tools every day.

CRAIG BOX: You are now coming up on the one-year anniversary of your job at Twitter. Congratulations.

JASMINE JAMES: Thank you. Thank you so much.

CRAIG BOX: That was, of course, mid-pandemic, the change as you mentioned before. How did you find the job?

JASMINE JAMES: It was scary. Just to be fully transparent, it was scary to go from a company that I thought I would stay at for quite some time.

CRAIG BOX: You could have had your 40-year-service anniversary badge.

JASMINE JAMES: Exactly. Especially being an Atlanta native, Delta being one of the companies here that is really one of the main places that people spend their careers. So making that move was a little bit scary. But I ultimately had never felt I would have the opportunity-- unless I moved to San Francisco or the West Coast-- to work for a tech company. And I wanted to experience that level of innovation, that scale, that technology focus at least once in my career. So I made the jump.

I joined a fantastic team. Engineering Effectiveness organization is really, really great. Twitter taking that remote stance made it so that I was not the only remote person joining, which made all the difference, because I wasn't just this person in Atlanta that had joined a team that was based in the Bay. There are people all over joining. It was a good experience, I think.

CRAIG BOX: Twitter are currently going through a Kubernetes transformation. Is there a similarity in terms of the work that you did at Delta that you can directly bring? Or do you think that each company going on this journey has to reevaluate what they need to do from the beginning?

JASMINE JAMES: I think that there are foundational tenets that can be used across different transformations. From a Twitter perspective, we're way further ahead from the mindset and approach that people take to deploying these technologies, the ownership of the applications that are being deployed, versus at Delta where monolithic applications had to be fully re-architected. We had to bring people in to do that work, and then transition ownership to teams that also had to come with a DevOps mindset.

Whereas Twitter, we have all of those pieces in place, it's now we're going to deploy them into this container orchestration capability on name-the-platform that you'll be deploying to. So I'd say that there are some things that are the same. I would say that at Twitter we're a little further ahead, though.

CRAIG BOX: Is it then a case of saying, we're repainting the room? Twitter obviously had been an early user, and creator in some cases, of the Mesos frameworks. So even though the technology is different, the patterns are effectively the same. And like you say, as a Silicon Valley startup, they have a lot of that DNA already. Is it a case of repainting the room?

JASMINE JAMES: I think that repainting the room definitely is what we have to do. It's a new way of working and deploying. I also think that as we make this change it's important to take a look and make sure we're not bringing some of those old patterns or habits into the new world, and we're really going to get the most bang for our buck.

Painting the room sounds right, but it's also an opportunity to take a fresh look to see if, hey, do I need to patch this wall and sand it down before I paint it? Or, do I need to change this light switch cover to make it that much more enjoyable?

CRAIG BOX: I've taken all the furniture out of the room and it turns out I really like it empty.


CRAIG BOX: How then did you get the call for KubeCon?

JASMINE JAMES: So that was crazy. In a pandemic, it's like, all right, working from home, trying to keep things going. And at KubeCon 2018, I was a part of a panel about avoiding the weeds in the Cloud Native landscape. That was a really great name. Priyanka Sharma, who's the GM over at the Linux Foundation, she hosted that panel and I talked about some of the things I mentioned to you about, how we selected our tools, how we considered and evaluated things in order to avoid being vendor-locked and making sure that we were picking the right thing for the job.

As a result of that panel, I met some great people, as I always do at KubeCon. Constance, who's one of the co-chairs, I actually met her at that same KubeCon, and we somehow ended up on the same planning committee role. So Priyanka reached out and mentioned that they were looking to add another co-chair in the user perspective.

Usually there has been a Kubernetes co-chair, one who's really focused on Kubernetes, one who's very active in other projects within the CNCF landscape. But there historically had not been end user representation. So being a user of Kubernetes and other capabilities that made it easy to adopt Cloud Native at Delta, and then now being developer experience at Twitter, she wanted me to join the role. So I checked with Twitter first, they were good with it. So it was very exciting. That happened in April of 2021.

CRAIG BOX: That aligns with the Europe event earlier this year. You weren't an official co-chair, but you were announced. So how did you help out, or what did you learn at the Europe event?

JASMINE JAMES: Europe was virtual this year because there were still vaccines rolling out. We weren't ready to fully go into hybrid-event mode. It was really an opportunity for me to shadow and understand exactly what the process was for delivering the online event, the emcee role, working with the other keynotes to make sure their content was good for the community. It wasn't too pitchy. Wasn't too dense. It was great for the community.

I learned a lot from Constance and Stephen about facilitating that, which really, really helped me go into North America. Immediately after Europe, the CFP for North America was like, I think it even had a little bit of overlap. So, yeah, we were looking at talks and looking at abstracts and figuring out how we wanted the first hybrid event, after quite some time, to shape out. I don't know how I would have done last week had it not been for that overlap and experience, and especially the great partnership with Constance and Stephen.

CRAIG BOX: As you mentioned, the review process for abstracts was around the same time as the end of the last KubeCon. KubeCon, as a conference, is now one of the biggest tech conferences in the world. It has a very low acceptance rate simply because there are so few slots to fill and so many people who are submitting things to the conference.

What thoughts did you have on reviewing abstracts and what did you bring as an end user representative, if you will? How did that change the collective view on what things you wanted to see at the show?

JASMINE JAMES: It's not just the co-chairs. So there's the process of the program committees that take a look at the abstracts. And there's the track chairs that take a look at the abstracts that are within that focus area. And then we take a look at and decide what makes sense.

How can we make this a very holistic event and present things that have not been presented before? So I think that, for me, from an end user perspective, what resonated for me in the past, coming to KubeCons, were the honest stories about how we adopted Cloud Native technologies, what difference it made within our environment, and how you can do the same, or here are some lessons learned.

Those really resonated for me, because I think that we always have, from a KubeCon perspective, those technical talks-- these capabilities, these updates. But as an end user, it can be a little overwhelming to dive deep into the technical capabilities if you don't know how it can be applied to your environment. So I wanted to make sure that we had a good balance of that. Yes, this is KubeFlow but this is what it meant for us to apply it in our environment.

CRAIG BOX: As you said before, the Europe event was entirely virtual and the North America event last week was hybrid. Something else you said before that I very much agree with is that the video of the talk that's available afterwards has a much longer life than the actual talk in the room that was delivered to a much smaller percentage of people.

Has it been part of the remit of the chairs to think about the balance there? You could, in a virtual environment, have more tracks with the idea that you're not going to have to physically be there and cut down, but you could get more content created and have that spread out more. How much of that do you get any say into?

JASMINE JAMES: What we did consider, not from a logistical perspective but more so a content perspective, what themes are emerging through this CFP process? Do we see equating to a track because this is a clear need? People are talking about it a lot and so it emerged. That happened with business values. It happened with the student track, 101 track.

These were our needs that have emerged over KubeCon. So as a co-chair, we get to say, OK, these talks, they're maybe within there, the performance or run-time track. But it's really an introduction. This is easily consumable by a student, someone who's learning about this particular area and needs to be educated. So let's put it here and then that way we cover all of our bases. And we have a place for people that are students, a place for people that are getting started from a 101 perspective to start.

CRAIG BOX: Was that something you were able to do for the event that you were evaluating the proposals for, or was that something that you necessarily had to do for the next event?

JASMINE JAMES: As a result of Europe, we had our student track here in North America. It's usually one after, is how it works. So we'll have a retrospective over the next couple of weeks and take a look at, OK, for Europe, what are some of the things that we're seeing from the CFP that's about to open, I believe, next week for Europe? We'll take a look at all of those talks and see how else we can make the program for that more holistic.

CRAIG BOX: You mentioned Europe there. The KubeCon in America next year will be held in Detroit. What advice do you have as a co-chair for those events for someone submitting a proposal?

JASMINE JAMES: Number one, take a look at some of the content that we had during the North America event, or even during our Europe event. Seeing what people are talking about, seeing what people were interested in is a great way to start to drive inspiration.

My next piece of advice is just be you. Talk about the things that are important to you, talk about the things you're doing day to day, because at the end of the day that authenticity, the realness is what always speaks to me as I'm reading abstracts.

My last advice would be just submit. Just submit. Even if there's not something that you've seen out there within the schedules from the past event that really looks close to what you're proposing, go ahead and submit it because I can almost guarantee you that there's somebody out there that would find value in the content that you're thinking about putting out there.

CRAIG BOX: Given that, though, how do you balance the fact that the last conference generated a YouTube video of that talk and someone looking at the schedule for it is effectively going to say, hey, if I'm talking on this topic there already exists a talk on this that people can go and look at, I should make a new talk in that area?

JASMINE JAMES: I don't think that folks should go and recreate things that are already done, but use that to drive inspiration and understand to see exactly what type of talks were accepted and what sort of personas or abstracts we're looking for. But don't make it the same as something you've seen. Let it be your own story.

For example, there was a talk about burnout that I really, really enjoyed, given by Julia Simon this past week. Make it your own. Are there any other challenges that we're experiencing from a people perspective that you know your coworkers are going through, your peers or going through? Talk about that. We want to see that authenticity and originality.

CRAIG BOX: On the topic of stories, we spoke with your two co-chairs, Constance in Episode 117, and Stephen in Episode 130. Great interviews if you do want to go back and get an idea for what it's like as the rolling thunder of KubeCon hosts continues. But what stories do you have from your experience working with those two?

JASMINE JAMES: They are amazing people in general. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with such seasoned co-chairs. That's great being a first timer coming into-- this was Constance's fifth KubeCon, so super seasoned. And it was really, really a treat.

I think that for both of them, especially so from Stephen's perspective, heavy into Kubernetes, and I had no idea, I have not ever contributed to Kubernetes. I've historically consumed a lot of the releases, everything, and tried to apply them to the environment and make it easier for developers to adopt it.

CRAIG BOX: And that will be true of 95% of the people who go to the show.


CRAIG BOX: One thing that I do see, even looking at the audience of this podcast, is there are a few people who are the contributors. But in any given area, you have a much larger proportion of people who consume the thing. And I think that's an audience that, for example, I'm glad to see that they're now giving another chair position over to.

JASMINE JAMES: Yeah. Learning about that process made me have so much more appreciation for all the work that went into special interest groups. There's so many considerations. And it really made me want to participate more in that process, especially being a huge adopter of Kubernetes in both of my companies, having that insight and hoping that my company can be a part of that and have a say in the direction and participate in these technologies we were consuming.

And from Constance's perspective, observability, OpenTelemetry is her wheelhouse. So I look forward to-- even beyond KubeCon-- bringing that back to my current organization and figuring out how we can apply an instrument, our internal applications, and make our developer experience even better by being able to make data-driven decisions, by being instrumented well.

So, learned a ton. And these are lifetime relationships that I'm super fortunate. I feel like that's the value of KubeCon, is the relationships, the community. I feel absolutely fortunate.

CRAIG BOX: My friend, Adam, was always able to judge the KubeCon events by the theme, whether it be what the vendors were advertising or what was being talked about. Not necessarily from the conference talks but from what was the vibe and what was the thing that people are going to take away. What do you think the thing that you as an end user would take away from this event?

This thing-- for a while it was service mesh and then it was Cloud Native storage. What's the next theme that you think that you need to go back and say, hey, this is the hype that everyone was talking about at this conference?

JASMINE JAMES: What sticks out to me from this past week were software supply chains.

CRAIG BOX: I hear you have to take a drink every time someone says that.

JASMINE JAMES: [LAUGHS] Oh, I only have water right here, so I'll take a swig of that. But, yes, that was the theme of the week, talking about software build of materials and understanding that this is something that all organizations need to be taking into account as they talk about Cloud Native application, delivery, and the entire environment. How do we put guardrails and have an understanding of what we're putting into our applications?

I'm a little biased on this second point, but it's experience. Developer experience. On Thursday, Constance talked about your experience as a Cloud Native end user, looking at that as a product in how, as a community, we needed to take more of a product approach to understanding the tools we were releasing, how they would be consumed by end users.

And then I talked about internal tool developer experience and maybe taking a look from a usability perspective, and UX perspective, how we could make that better. And then Robert Duffy talked about how he utilized a lot of those things that I talked about, that Constance talked about, in his organization at Expedia and what it meant for them.

I feel like those were the two themes. And the crazy thing is that Constance, Robert, and I did not even orchestrate our talks. But as they emerged, it was like, oh, wow, this is something that clearly we're all passionate about. So we wanted to make it a theme for that day.

CRAIG BOX: Are there any other talks that you think are absolute must-sees, that you'd encourage people to log back into the platform and check out as soon as they can?

JASMINE JAMES: Yeah. So I am big on people. And I mentioned this one earlier, but Julia Simon's talk about burnout. It was real. I think that after the year, year and a half that we've all had, it's important to make sure that we're taking care of ourselves and doing good things, making sure that we are taking care of ourselves so we can do the great work that we do every day.

Another keynote that really resonated with me was Kaslin Fields's talk about her journey to multi-cluster. Resilience in the environment is super important for all the companies that I've worked at. But one of the things that we were challenged with is, how do we get there? We have a cluster, we have all of these data center options, we have options in the cloud, but how do we take that first step into becoming more resilient? So that one really resonated with me, as well.

CRAIG BOX: Will 2022 finally be the year of Linux on the desktop?

JASMINE JAMES: [LAUGHS] We'll see. I don't know. Maybe for some companies. I'm not sure. We'll see.

CRAIG BOX: There were 3,000 people on-site at the event. There were 20,000 people that attended [online]. What was it like being in a room with that many people for the first time in so long?

JASMINE JAMES: I mentioned earlier, surreal. It's been two years for me since I've done a conference and the keynote. It was really surreal to have people looking at you as you talked about things you were passionate about. I think that the amount of people and the size of the Los Angeles Convention Center made for a good experience from someone who's been stuck in the house for a year and a half.

I was honestly a little worried about proximity, making sure that we were staying safe. But I think that amount of people in the large convention center really worked out well. I had opportunities to connect through some social events. But also, I had the time to step away at times and engage in Slack with virtual attendees. So that was a good balance, I think. I'm looking forward to future hybrid events and being able to, if I can't join in-person, post my co-chair duties, having that good experience still hybrid.

CRAIG BOX: I understand there was masks all around, social distancing where applicable. How did that affect the hallway track and the conversations that people often have together?

JASMINE JAMES: It worked out pretty well. We had armbands that denoted how comfortable people are with proximity and greetings. Maybe you're comfortable with an elbow bump versus a hug. So I feel like that took the guesswork out of how we interact, which made for a lot of productive conversations. There are people that after my keynote we stopped, we chatted.

I had a yellow armband so they were like, OK, are you comfortable grabbing lunch? And it was great. We were able to converse and share, which is what KubeCon is about. But people were intentional about asking and making sure people were comfortable, which was awesome, especially for someone like me who is going back to an eight-year-old that can't be vaccinated. So it made me feel really confident in my engagements and interactions.

CRAIG BOX: You mentioned before as a Black woman in tech, there is a lot of mentoring that you've done. The dojos that you ran at Delta gave you an opportunity to do a lot of mentoring as well. That is a big theme of KubeCon in general. Was that something that they were still able to keep in place with the hybrid model?

JASMINE JAMES: Oh, absolutely. So we thought about diversity all the way back from the CFP process. This is something that the CNCF has really done a great job at prioritizing and making sure there was adequate representation on not only the keynote stage but throughout all of the tracks. We thought about it early and so I definitely think we were very intentional, which resulted in great percentages.

So the CNCF has transparency on these numbers. And after the conference, I believe we'll release those. It's something that we thought about for sure. And I think we executed well on that front.

CRAIG BOX: At the event, they announced the two new upcoming co-chairs, Emily Fox and Ricardo Rocha. Ricardo was a guest on Episode 62. I think he's probably the first person we've had on the show before rather than after. So congratulations to him. What will your advice be for them, and how will you look forward to working with them in the future?

JASMINE JAMES: I think that Emily and Ricardo are great. I had the opportunity to meet Ricardo last week. And Emily, we've been talking over the past few months. And they've been shadowing, just as I did, for Europe. I am looking forward to learning from them. I think from a co-chair perspective, I think that's the number-one thing that I look forward to in the role, is learning from them, hearing their perspective, especially Emily being a part of the security tag and that being such a huge theme of this year on software supply chain. So just curious to hear both of their perspectives.

I feel like we have to have fun with it. Make it an enjoyable event. And I feel like seeing that translate into North America will help us plan Europe in Valencia, Spain next year. And then after I roll off, them plan Detroit of North America next year.

CRAIG BOX: What were you most looking forward to when you got back to Atlanta? And have you been able to do that?

JASMINE JAMES: As you know, I have recently taken to outdoor activities. So fishing is one of the ways I like to decompress, disconnect a little bit, because it's easy working from home to get very, very overworked and overzealous with things you try to accomplish. So getting out really helps with that. My daughter and I went horseback riding yesterday to take some nature in. Fall is coming here to Georgia, so it was a very, very nice day.

CRAIG BOX: And I see that you won first place in your first-ever fishing tournament recently.

JASMINE JAMES: Yes. A funny story is that that was my first time fishing ever. So I don't know if it was beginner's luck or what, but I've been learning. And I eased into it and I caught a three-pound bass. That was pretty cool. [LAUGHS]

CRAIG BOX: How does that compare to other achievements over the last week?

JASMINE JAMES: KubeCon was pretty big, too. And seeing people, being on stage, I feel like that felt good as well. But yeah, definitely still accomplishment all the way around. Lots of fun in different ways.

CRAIG BOX: All right. Well thank you for everything you've done for the community. And it was a pleasure talking to you today, Jasmine.

JASMINE JAMES: Likewise. Thank you for having me, Craig.

CRAIG BOX: You can find Jasmine on Twitter @gojasmineee.


CRAIG BOX: Thank you very much for listening. If you've enjoyed the show, please help us spread the word and tell a friend. If you have any feedback for us, you can find us on Twitter @kubernetespod or reach us by email at kubernetespodcast@google.com.

JIMMY MOORE: You can also check out the website at KubernetesPodcast.com, where you'll find transcripts and show notes, as well as links to subscribe.

CRAIG BOX: We'll be back in a couple of weeks with a special episode. So until then, thanks for listening.