Part 1 – Let the swag hunt begin!

When I started here at tombola in September, the last thing I thought I’d be doing is going Dockercon. At the time, I’d never even heard of Dockercon and only had limited experience with Docker itself, but when the opportunity arose I couldn’t turn it down. My choice was in no way swayed by the fact that it was happening in Austin, Texas – the live music capital of the world. I’ve not travelled much but from my limited experience I think this title is well deserved. I’m sure I’ll get in to that later.

Anyway, let’s begin, shall we? Firstly, let me introduce myself. I’m Michael Ball (no, not this guy) and I’m an Infrastructure and Application Engineer. A lot of my work here at tombola revolves around AWS. For Docker, this means ECS – Elastic Container Service. This is Amazons orchestration tool for Docker and is what I had been working with for a few months before Dockercon. Docker as a container platform has been growing at an insane rate. So much so that the first Dockercon held in 2014 had only 500 attendees. This year it was closer to 5000. At this rate it will be rivalling the attendance numbers of AWS Re:Invent in a few years.

This year Dockercon was held at the Austin Convention Centre in Downtown Austin from 17 – 20 April. The only downside here was having to fly out on Easter Sunday… at 6am. However, the early start meant that we’d arrive in Austin around 5pm local time. This gave us a chance to experience a little bit of Austin before the ‘work’ began.

On the Monday we went over to the convention centre to register and start the accumulation of swag (very important). Immediately we were handed a backpack, water bottle and t-shirt – not a bad start. We had signed up to workshops which were held in the afternoon. After roughly 30 minutes of attempting to navigate the maze that is the Austin convention centre we eventually found the rooms we were meant to be in.

I chose to attend an orchestration workshop for beginners. This was based around the orchestration capabilities built into the Docker engine, aka “Swarm Mode”.  I was curious to see what could be done with the built-in tools and compare it with my own experience using ECS. We were guided through the setup of a cluster of instances and the deployment of an example application. I was surprised just how capable the Docker engine was and how easy it was to deploy an application to a cluster in a relatively short amount of time. The main difference to ECS is the lack of a console UI to do this, which could be a positive or negative, depending on how you like to work. Overall, I thought the workshop was worthwhile and would fully recommend it.

After the workshops finished the exhibition floor was opened up for food, drinks and a first opportunity to visit the stands of the sponsors for Dockercon. The swag accumulation continued here as we explored the show floor. The big guns were out if force – Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, AWS, Redhat, Intel, Google Cloud Platform and more (I’ve missed a fair few but I’m sure they won’t mind). This gave us a good opportunity to plan who to visit between talks over the next couple of days.

That evening we were treated to free food, drink and live music at Darwin’s Pub on Austin’s’ world famous 6th Street, courtesy of Sumo Logic. As it turned out this was a sign of things to come later that week. Read more in Part 2!