In 2018 I decided to engage more with the larger technical community. I had a few goals:
Here’s how I did.
Speak at more technical conferences
I knew I wanted to speak at a technical conference, but I had zero experience finding conferences, filling out abstracts, and submitting before CFPs close. I gave a first talk at FutureStack 2017, but that was a bit different since it was a vendor conference and Airbnb was invited to speak there. Also a manager signed me up before telling me about it (thanks Joey!), so it wasn’t planned. So I started submitting proposals in the middle of summer 2018. I got a rejection, and three acceptances (yay!), and I was surprised by a keynote acceptance. I ended up speaking at ONS Europe in Amsterdam in September, and KubeCon NA in December. The ONS talk wasn’t recorded, but it was also more of a practice run of the content I would finalize for KubeCon NA. I couldn’t squeeze in VelocityConf NYC into my schedule, and was sad to miss it (but I was having fun in Hong Kong instead). I love giving talks, but they’re time consuming for me. In addition to practicing the presentation, I spend a lot of hours drafting content and finalizing the slides. I spent even more time polishing my KubeCon slides, because I knew a lot of people would see it :).
What I was most terrified about was standing up there and saying something universally Wrong or Bad. But people were engaged. There was note-taking, picture-taking, “aha”s, and a lot of followup discussion both in person and on twitter. What I loved most was meeting with people and other companies and comparing/constrasting how we’ve tried to solve different problems. And there are a lot of problems when you completely change your infrastructure to Kubernetes. I walked away with a treasure trove of notes and ideas to share with our infra teams, and feel re-energized about many of the technical and organizational problems we’ve been facing.
status: super success!
Engage with other people/companies on twitter
I started picking up my twitter game shortly before the conferences. I put my twitter handle on all my slides too :). I got a TON of engagement from KubeCon. I went from ~400 to ~1000 followers, and finally feel engaged on the platform. It’s a great way to see where things are going in infra in real-time.
Start a technical blog
Well, I started setting up this blog on December 30th. I waffled a bit on how to setup it up, but settled for using hugo.
Contribute to more open source
I set up kubernetes locally and commented on and tried to work on an issue. Liz Frost gave me a lot of 1:1 help reproing the issue. But the issue was too hard for me to complete on a compressed timeframe at KubeCon :). So I’ll have to pick this up later.
There was an uptick on open source contributions from Airbnb engineers in 2018 (My coworker Ramya found a scheduler bug related to balancing pods across availability zones, and her fix will be in 1.14!!), and we’ll likely make more contributions in 2019. For example, I know our Continuous Integration team is looking at current open source image building solutions, and our Continuous Delivery team is looking at moving us to Spinnaker.
status: failure, I can do better!
Attend more events aimed at women/non-binary folks (and maybe organize one!)
I also attended a few meetups and conferences, my favorite of which was Building Upwards by Vicki Cheung at Lyft. I loved listening to and chatting with women and non-binary folk about infrastructure. I wanted to plan one of these for late 2018 at Airbnb HQ, but we’re pushing it to 2019.
status: mostly success
Overall, I did a lot of coding in 2018 at work:
Although the darker green boxes were actually automated refactors of 100+ services (now you can run refactors as a bot user to not mess with your contributions if you’d like).
2018 Highlights / Lowlights
I worked on a lot of interesting problems this year, and look forward to sharing my solutions now that the blog is up!
I'm Melanie. I'm a software engineer. I live in San Francisco, but travel often. Currently, I work on infrastructure at Airbnb.
Here are some external talks I've given. Reach out if you'd like me to speak at your conference!
Abstract: You've already made the plunge to move to Kubernetes, and you feel pretty good about that. But why does it feel like it requires expert-level Kubernetes knowledge for engineers to get anything done? This talk will identify key problems that make out-of-the-box Kubernetes less friendly to developers, and strategies for addressing them, based on Airbnb’s experience empowering one thousand engineers to develop hundreds of Kubernetes services at scale. This talk will focus primarily on four problem areas:
1. Configuration: Generated and templated configuration, extracting shareable components and containers
2. CI/CD: Containerizing CI/CD, validation, build and deploy strategies
3. Tooling: Creating and distributing a kubectl wrapper
Abstract: When, why, and how to move from a monolithic architecture to a
slides + transcript