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KubeCon Europe 2022 Wrap-Up

Nico Vibert
Nico Vibert
Published: Updated: Isovalent

What did you make of KubeCon Europe 2022? If you attended virtually, then I hope the experience was smooth and comfortable. For those of us who were lucky enough to go to Valencia, it was as exhausting as it was exhilarating. For me, it was literally my first week at Isovalent and wow – what a week it was. 

It was the first on-site KubeCon conference in Europe in three years and I think it was worth the wait. 

Seeing all the people you know vaguely from Twitter, meeting former colleagues and acquaintances, and making new friends was a great experience. Valencia is a spectacular city and deserved the exposure it received during the conference: I lived and studied there for eighteen months in my twenties and I have a soft spot for the beautiful and eccentric Valencia.

Whether or not this was your first KubeCon, it was very energizing. I am certainly biased but the excitement around eBPF, Cilium, Hubble and the newly-announced younger sibling Tetragon felt tremendous.

I heard that there was a significant uptick in eBPF interest from the last KubeCon in North America to the one in Valencia. It was even a subject of conversation during mealtimes. I heard folks discussing eBPF around the delicious giant paella served on Thursday night (did you know paella was originally created in Valencia?) or during the not-so-delicious conference lunch.

A particular highlight was seeing the queues of folks waiting for a signed copy of Liz’s and Natália’s books about eBPF and security observability. Every one of the 500 books we had ordered for KubeCon is gone! If you missed getting a copy, you can still read online versions here

And it wasn’t just the book signings that were popular: the Cilium Update session and the Guided Tour to Service Mesh were packed (despite it being the last session of the week, the room was so crowded that staff had to ask folks to leave for fire safety reasons). 

Cilium is clearly being adopted by many, and at scale. It was nice to hear end user testimonies from the likes of IKEA and Bell Canada on how they were using Cilium, not just for some basic networking connectivity but for IPv6, Segment Routing, Load-Balancing, BGP, and Multi-Cluster requirements. 

IKEA eBPF session

Multicloud was unsurprisingly a big topic at KubeCon with ArangoDB and Form3 giving some interesting talks around these topics (using Cilium as a foundational pillar of their architecture).

What became a hotly debated topic throughout the week was whether eBPF is a silver bullet for Service Mesh. My colleagues at Isovalent have pioneered the use of eBPF for accelerating the service mesh data plane in Project Cilium, and we’re seeing a lot of excitement from users about the consequent reduction in complexity and improvements in performance and resource usage

It was pretty entertaining watching leaders and champions in the industry politely discussing in a panel whether eBPF-powered Service Mesh makes any difference, and whether we need to get rid of Envoy – my answers to these questions are: yes, absolutely (read the some performance benchmarks here) and of course, no, Envoy is a core component in Cilium Service Mesh.

A packed room for the Guided Tour of Cilium Service Mesh

Looking ahead at the future of cloud native networking, I would recommend one of my favorite sessions of the week: “Better Bandwidth Management with eBPF” by Daniel Borkmann (the co-creator of eBPF) and Christopher Luciano. Replacing TCP Congestion is ambitious but then why not leverage some of the great work Google researchers have done and use eBPF to implement it? The impressive network performance gains spoke for themselves.  

And while we love working on eBPF, it’s exciting to see so many other companies and contributors to eBPF-powered projects, such as Microsoft’s work on porting eBPF to Windows, folks from Polar Signals and Red Hat looking at improving eBPF security, or Pixie leveraging eBPF for tracing.

All in all, it was a great conference. I hope virtual attendees also got a lot out of it – at least none of them would have lost their luggage, like many of us experienced on our way to Valencia (if you’re really that curious about my own calamitous journey, you can read more about it on my personal blog).

We look forward to seeing you, virtually or face-to-face, at the next KubeCon in Detroit.

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Nico Vibert
AuthorNico VibertSenior Staff Technical Marketing Engineer
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