We’ve just recently completed KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam, one of the signature events of the year in the cloud native, open source and observability spaces.

I was thrilled to be joined by Taylor Dolezal, the Head of Ecosystem for the hosting Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) to discuss the insider happenings of KubeCon EU live from Amsterdam for the April 2023 OpenObservability Talks podcast.

In case you missed the livestream, you can watch the replay here:

Taylor works on infrastructure tools that enable innovation. He specializes in Kubernetes, Terraform, public clouds, and distributed systems. He also delivered the opening keynote from KubeCon EU in front of a record 10,000 guests and did a fine job at that!

User Challenges Shared On The CNCF Ecosystem Discourse

As Head of Ecosystem for the CNCF, Taylor engages with end users year round, through the landmark CTO Summits as well as other CNCF Ecosystem discourse, even here at KubeCon. I asked Taylor about some of the items he heard from end users, and many of them dealt with how best to utilize open source projects. 

“I’m so happy that we’ve kind of won that open source debate,” Taylor says. “Everybody’s all into that, so you don’t have to pitch people on that vision so much anymore, which is wonderful. I think right now it’s seeing folks having adopted Kubernetes, and then, ‘What do we do next? How do we implement the rest of our stack? What do we use for observability? What do we use for all of these things, and what data’s available to help us understand if we’re making the right choice?’

Taylor referenced the CTO Summit North America that was held in Detroit during KubeCon last year, which had a focus on cloud native maturity, where the discussion centered around the fact no one had solved the maturity question. 

“Okay, we’ve adopted these projects, and they’re working in prod, but how do we tell when it’s done?” Taylor says. “How can we tell when to take it out of the oven, or when do we swap it out? What does that look like? And I think that’s been just a fascinating thing to dig into.”

One thing discussed around the showfloor was the breadth of CNCF’s projects and the offerings for an audience that’s increasingly wanting to go cloud native. I believe we need to learn to communicate much more clearly to enable our end users to choose the right thing. 

There’s an issue where newcomers to the CNCF Landscape can get confused by all the choices. During the keynote at KubeCon it was discussed that there are 159 projects ongoing at the CNCF—and growing. 

I asked Taylor about what he advises end users who might find the scope of the landscape to be mind-boggling. He mentioned updating the CNCF End User Radar which has not been updated since Sept. 2021. Hearing Taylor’s promise to bring the Radar back to life was music to my ears. 

One other area Taylor is hoping can be helpful for end users is providing more tools on how to pitch the business value of projects back to their organizations.

“I think as folks look to adopt [CNCF projects], something that’s new that’s starting to enter into the conversation is: ‘how can I actually let my VP, our SVP, our directors, and CTOs know what makes sense? What does this actually get us from a business standpoint? Do we get more time back? Can we focus on some other business concerns? Is this something that is our core competency, or should be, and maybe we go a different route and choose a different project based on that?’”

Observability Highlights at KubeCon EU

As always for me, observability was front and center during KubeCon EU, and I was thrilled to see many others get into the discussion.

I personally attended the Observability Day co-located event at KubeCon and it was very successful. Not all the co-located events were able to facilitate the whole day, but for Observability Day it was more than that. My feeling was we didn’t even cover a fraction of what we wanted to, and my hope is that going forward Observability Day can be spun off into its own event.

I also spoke with Taylor a bit about a new working group that’s trying to push a unified query language proposal around observability. That push actually arose from two end users, and there’s no vendor’s tech involved here. If there is going to be any unified query language across logs, metrics, traces, and other telemetry signals, it’s best to come from end users, and then harnessing and bringing on board the vendors. In fact, I discussed this vision also with the CNCF’s CTO Chris Aniszczyk on a recent episode:

Each vendor has its own aspirations. Some vendors even launch their own unified query language that is only specific to that vendor, but we need to take it a step forward and specification that would be vendor neutral most naturally comes from the end user.

The CTO Summit this time around (held during this KubeCon Europe) will focus on FinOps and on building a culture of cost management. FinOps is a hot topic with many facts, including the need for observability. Taylor shared some interesting insights, ahead of the CTO Summit.

Want to learn more? Check out the OpenObservability Talks latest episode: Live from KubeCon: Insider Insights with CNCF’s Head of Ecosystem.

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