DevOps Institute

Highlights from SKILup Day: Container Orchestration

Containers, SKILup

Screengrab of SKILup Day auditorium

By Jaida Olvera 

October 22, 2021

The last official SKILup Day of the year has concluded! SKILup Day: Container Orchestration was held on Thursday, October 21, 2021. This year was truly one for the books! 

SKILup Day: Container Orchestration

Needless to say, we were still feeling the buzz from that announcement as we prepped for SKILup Day: Container Orchestration! The one-day virtual conference explored container orchestration as a discipline and featured “how-to” lessons and insight from speakers Jayne Groll, Manuel Schuller, Jithin Bhasker, Mark Abrams, Chinmay Gaikwad, Nicholas Chase, Lukonde Mwila, Eric Maxwell, Tom Fisher and Mitchell Ashley. 

In addition to a full day of sessions, the event offered yoga, a leaderboard challenge, a networking lounge, an exhibit hall and even a DevOps-inspired mixology class!

If you missed the Container Orchestration SKILup Day, never fear! We’ve got you covered with a quick round-up of the top themes that emerged from the sessions and conversations around this incredibly important topic.

Why Devote a Full Day of Learning to Container Orchestration?

Container orchestration is a must-have technical skill, according to 51% of respondents to the 2021 Upskilling survey from DevOps Institute.

Container technologies, such as Docker and CoreOS, have become an increasingly popular step in DevOps journeys for many organizations. Containers are lightweight and portable, making them easier on organizations’ resources. 

But as enterprises increase the number of containerized applications, teams cannot manually sustain the operational processes required to manage and deploy them. Instead, teams are leveraging container orchestration to automate many of these processes.

SKILup Day speakers covered several trending themes, including introducing various aspects of container orchestration, automation, container orchestration’s impact on site reliability and CI/CD pipelines and increasing observability in container orchestration. Here are some of the key discussion points that emerged throughout the day.

Read more: 4 Container Security Concerns

Laying the Container Orchestration Foundation

A key theme among speakers at this SKILup Day was introducing the audience to various aspects of container orchestration.

Mitch Ashley of Techstrong Research kicked off the day with his session “Welcome to Container Orchestration.” Ashley said adopting containerization is, “more than a fad.” The session featured foundational insights from Ashley on container management. He then shared where the audience can go for more resources and learning on the topic.

Then, DevOps Institute’s CEO Jayne Groll presented the session “DevOps for Humans.” Groll emphasized that “to keep pace, we need to upskill our humans as often as we upgrade our applications.” She then shared trends from the 2021 Upskilling Report including which skills are considered must-haves, nice-to-haves and which skills are not as important. The report findings revealed that 51% of respondents said container orchestration is a must-have technical skill.

Automating Container Orchestration

Eric Maxwell of xMatters, Inc., an Everbridge Company, shared valuable insights during his session, “Enhancing Container Orchestration with Operational Workflow Automation.” Maxwell explained what container orchestration is and is not and why it is important. He said, “As engineers, we spend a great deal of time and effort making sure our pipelines and environments are efficient, repeatable and resilient. That’s the main reason we choose to use containers–and container orchestration helps us do this at scale. But what about our operational processes around the container orchestration ecosystem?” Maxwell then explored how to make sure your operational processes are efficient so they can scale along with your solutions. 

Lukonde Mwila of SUSE presented the session, “Using GitOps for Continuous Delivery to Multiple Kubernetes Clusters.” Mwila defined GitOps and explained its benefits and challenges, as well as how Fleet works as a GitOps tool. He then explored why GitOps works particularly well in the context of Kubernetes and how it complements the declarative model. In practice, DevOps engineers can benefit from this paradigm by creating automated deployments to multiple Kubernetes cluster environments. 

Nick Chase of Mirantis presented key insights during the session “Be the Master of Your (Cluster’s) Destiny: Treat Your Clusters Like Cattle.” Chase explored how you can use the Kubernetes Cluster API to programmatically control cluster creation and management to get the most out of your container orchestration efforts.

Screengrab of what container orchestration isn't

Container Orchestration’s Impact on Site Reliability

In his session “Enhancing Container Orchestration with Operational Workflow Automation,” Jithin Bhasker of Lightstep presented Lightstep Incident Response, a post-deployment platform that helps ensure service resiliency and solve incident response challenges. Bhasker indicated that “several vendors have addressed the pre-deployment and deployment aspects of DevOps. While these factors are well understood, there remains an Achilles heel in how you respond to incidents, how people can easily access all necessary information, collaborate at the click of a button and restore service as quickly as possible.”

Chinmay Gaikwad of Epsagon shared key insights during his session “Monitoring and Troubleshooting Containerized Applications with Distributed Tracing.” Gaikwad emphasized that “as more and more organizations start using a combination of cloud and third-party APIs, monitoring and troubleshooting containerized applications has become increasingly challenging.” He then described how to use distributed tracing to correlate metrics, logs and events to troubleshoot microservices-based applications effectively. Gaikwad ended the session by exploring the must-haves for a modern observability solution.

Read more: 3 Container Orchestration Challenges to Tackle Head On

Increasing Observability in Container Orchestration

DevOps Institute Ambassador Manuel Schuller returned for another SKILup Day. This month, he presented the session “Digital Transformation Toward Microservices on Multi-Cloud: How to Remove the Anxiety.” Schuller emphasized the stress caused by the complexity of the container orchestration release process. He expressed that “managing a growing number of microservices and containers and managing multi-cloud only adds to the anxiety.” He then shared best practices, principles and tools to reduce the anxiety.

You may like this follow-up event: Anxiety-Free Digital Transformation with Manuel Schuller

In the session “Optimizing Your CI/CD Pipeline with Shift Left Enterprise Observability,” Tom Fisher of Instana shared practical advice and tactical tips on how and where enterprise observability and machine learning can be applied in the CI/CD pipeline. Fisher highlighted how enterprise observability and machine learning are extremely effective in detecting and isolating application issues for SRE, DevOps and operations teams in production. He informed attendees that “many users have asked us if EO/ML could be beneficial early in the CI/CD pipeline. The answer is yes!”

Finally, Mark Abrams of SUSE shared firsthand experience during the demo “Fleet Dive – Giving Downstream Systems the Edge.” Abrams addressed the question, “How do we deliver software to edge compute at scale?” He presented a solution and demonstrated how to connect a fleet of Kubernetes clusters for pull model continuous delivery operations using SUSE’s Fleet Manager. 

SKILup Day: Visual Summaries

Want to know more about the sessions? For a quick recap of each, check out the sketches below. You can also view the videos and download the slide decks by viewing the Container Orchestration SKILup Day on demand for a limited time.


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