Category Archives: Events

4 days of Dockercon – Day 4

After doing some more work in the evening for Microsoft and watching my Football match, I didn’t get to sleep until midnight, so I woke with my usual conference groggy feeling. At my age, I really need more hours in bed! Thankfully I had done most of my packing the night before so didn’t have an awful lot to do. However given the fact that I had skipped dinner/ supper the night before I was determined to grab a big breakfast. I’d skipped my evening meal since I really couldn’t be bothered to wander down to the Shopping Mall and waste 40 minutes on a round trip in doing so, nor did I fancy a meal in the hotel restaurant wasting 2 hours of messing around.

This morning I was out of my room by 8 am. and promptly checked out, booked my transit back to the airport and checked my luggage into the Conference drop off point and headed to the post-conference Summits. I had somehow managed to register for two (the Moby Project Summit and Enterprise Summit) and whilst I suspected that the Moby Project would hold slightly more interest for me, I felt that it probably would hold less business value than the Enterprise option. So I deregistered myself from Moby, and went to get myself a freshly-born bouncing plate of bacon, eggs, beans, and… cheese! (yes these Danish folks are nut-cases!!!).

The Enterprise Summit kicked off talking even more about the MTA program and perhaps labored a little too long on its overview (especially since we had witnessed much of this material during the conference and keynotes). A few demos later and I am impressed that MTA and Docker Enterprise are a very good business proposition for most (if not all) businesses, though I really must try these things out myself on some problematic apps. You know the saying that  “if it sounds too good to be true….”? That’s partially how I feel at the moment, and I would rather hear about the serious problems encountered and failures experienced – that (I believe) would be more useful for us to understand the limitations of this service. The Enterprise Summit in truth was an extended series of sessions and regurgitated material and took us up to lunchtime (only 3 hours after breakfast – seriously guys?!) but I decided to take the opportunity now, given the proximity of the hotel to anything else and also taking into account my arranged departure time to the airport (5.30 pm.). The afternoon section of the “Enterprise Summit” consisted of completing the lab exercises, so I decided to finish lunch early and head over to my favorite spot.

Unfortunately for me, by 3pm. I was kicked out of the Conference center since Dockercon was “officially over”, and therefore had no option but to head back to the hotel and continue the labs from the bar area where I managed to do some cool stuff in swarm (playing around with node failures, container scaling and failed upgrades/ rollbacks).

This. Is. The. Future. Folks. (And the future is now…).

Thankfully I’d just finished up and grabbed my ride to the airport and 15 minutes later hit checkin, security, etc. After refuelling on airport pizza I decide to crack open the labs for one last time and 2 hours later remember it is probably a good time to hit the button on this blog post :).

All in all, a very productive 1st Dockercon and I have got much more return on investment than I could ever dream from certain other conferences (which shan’t be named!). I did miss bumping into many of my friends and familiar faces during this conference and certainly found the (presumably) Danes very reserved and hard to have a conversation with at the dinner tables -so after several abortive attempts to get them speaking I ultimately gave up. I already have another (bucket list) conference firmly on my watch list for next year, but really hope I can add Dockercon US/EU also into my budget.

Other posts in this series
4 days of Dockercon – Day 3
4 days of Dockercon – Day 2
4 days of Dockercon – Day 1
4 days of Dockercon – Day 0

4 days of Dockercon – Day 3

The second and final day of general sessions arrives and I manage to leave my room with a little more time to spare than yesterday. Again, I grab a bite to eat in the exhibitor room and then find myself a good seat for the keynote day 2. This time it was lead by Scott Johnson (COO of Docker) and focused again on Docker Enterprise Edition but with a strong focus on the MTA program and migrating legacy apps to Docker. The atmosphere was slightly more subdued today -probably because people were nursing hangovers from last nights party, but I was intrigued by a few things. For instance, when they talked about migrating a legacy .NET app and modernizing it to Docker, it wasn’t really clear to me whether doing so was also irradicating dependencies on older .NET frameworks.

During the break between the keynote and first session, I decided to pick up where I left off with the Docker Labs and managed to go through the Docker on Linux 101 and Docker on Windows 101 excercises. Apart from a few minor typos in the demo code, these worked really well, although the Windows environment was noticeably slower than Linux which was a little frustrating. I decided to skip the first session so I could work my way through more lab material which took me up to lunchtime.

For my first session of the day I decided to attend “Docker EE Deep Dive” by Patrick Devine, which I found quite interesting but felt that it didn’t quite go as “deep” as I’d like to have seen.  That said, I am convinced that I need to spend more time familiarizing myself with Enterprise Edition if I am ever going to make a success of my “microservices journey”.

After lunch, I decided to speak with a few more storage solution vendors and deliberated whether to go to my second session of the day. None of the sessions that were on offer grabbed me enough, so I decided to extend my adventures with the lab environment and worked through a few more scenarios. So by the time my next session arrived, I was really looking forward to it and chose “Becoming the Docker Champion: Bringing Docker Back to Work” by Jim Armstrong. To be honest, I was more than a little disappointed that the content was not technical and focused more on the “politics” of the workplace and your company’s staff motivations for adopting of Docker (or not). For me, this was largely a waste of my time even though Jim presented the session well, the session needed really to live in a management track (had one existed). During the next long break, I headed back to the Lab area and continued to work through the material. After the last session, I deliberated whether I should attend the last session of the day (of which a Serverless panel was quite appealing), and ultimately came to the conclusion that it was probably more worthwhile if I continued working my way through the labs.

That was really the end of (a slightly disappointing) day, but at least I got some good value from the Labs. In the evening I struggled to remote onto my machine back home so I could watch the Chelsea v Roma game and failed. Therefore I had to resort to finding a hooky stream which kept cutting out every 5-10 minutes. Even though Chelsea went 2-0 up quite early on, the match ended 3-3 to compound my disappointment!

Tomorrow is my last day in Denmark, in which I will be attending one the post-conference Summits.

Other posts in this series
4 days of Dockercon – Day 4
4 days of Dockercon – Day 2
4 days of Dockercon – Day 1
4 days of Dockercon – Day 0

4 days of Dockercon – Day 2


Why is it that at every conference I always seem to be rushing around in the morning trying to get to the keynote sessions in time. No matter how early I wake, I always seem to run out of time. Today was the first main day of sessions and I was determined to grab a bite to eat before heading to the keynote, so I headed across to the sponsor hall and grabbed my required bacon supplement for the day and managed to have a very interesting chat with a Docker insider (who is apparently contributing to the keynote the next day – I’ll insert name if that is correct). We discussed the future of containers in a potentially Serverless world and it was really interesting (and reassuring) to note that Docker has their eyes and ears firmly planted in all the right places (can’t say any more right now!).

I managed to get to the keynote just a few minutes late, and the central message was to push the awesomeness that is Docker Enterprise Edition. There were some great demos on show and also some great (but quite clearly staged) banter between the speakers, but unlike most conferences, they were fun and engaging talks. Probably the biggest announcement of the day came when the co-founder of Docker and CTO (Solomon Hykes) wowed the audience with the news that Kubernetes will be treated as a first-class citizen and that it will be baked into the product alongside Swarm, so that choosing one orchestrator over another did not compromise many of the great features present in both. This is clearly great news for Kube fans (and very welcome news at that), but I do also wonder how this will affect other orchestration platforms? I couldn’t quite make out whether other platforms will be closely integrated in the future as well. If I had to guess I would say yes.

I started the day off by going to a Docker “beginner” session called “Learning Docker from Square One” delivered by Chloe Condon. I was in two minds whether an intro session was a good idea for me, but I decided that starting from the beginning wasn’t a bad idea to refresh core concepts. I enjoyed her delivery of the session and general materials and explanations although it was perhaps a little more basic than I probably needed and if I was brutally honest I think too much time was spent on the opening analogies between containers and images -which I mostly didn’t think worked very well. She did, however, use one that I have in the past – that of development code ( or more specifically: Object Orientation concepts) using classes (as the image) and instances (as the container). Anyhow, those minor nit-picking aside, she delivered a good session and I think her “dad jokes” as she put it, generally had people laughing through the session.

It was now time for lunch and quite a large break, so I decided to grab an (ultimately) rushed bite to eat (since sadly my table mates were about as exciting as a cold bath in December) and then had a great time visiting and talking to sponsors. This is not something I generally do at big SQL Server conferences and mostly find vendors a complete waste of my time (or is that me or theirs – who knows?), but for whatever reason, I really enjoyed talking to them and was particularly interested in persisted storage solutions for containers. I have got a few more to visit tomorrow if possible!

Next up, I decided to keep to my Microsoft roots and check out “Navigating the Docker Toolset in Visual Studio and Azure” delivered by Microsoft’s Shayne Boyer. I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t familiar with Shayne, and I always feel sorry for Microsoft speakers at non-Microsoft conferences (and user groups) since I generally get the feeling of a lack of engagement from the audiences (partially due to the historical leanings and historical open-source community failings of the company). That said, times are changing, Microsoft is embracing and integrating (and contributing) and the future is bright. Shayne did a good job convincing me to crack open Visual Studio 2017 and create and deploy some Azure containers, making it all seem incredibly easy – so when I get the time, this is exactly what I will do.

I now decided to attend “Creating Effective Docker Images” by Abby Fuller since this topic was a no-brainer for me, and it also appeared to be the view held by everyone else at Dockercon. Her session room was absolutely packed and had no standing room available, having (at a guess) 500+ people in it. Her delivery of the material was pretty faultless and given her age (to an old git like me) I watched in admiration of this talent. I learned some really useful things in the session but was left *just* wanting a bit more… Perhaps this is Abby’s intention and perhaps the reason she gets packed rooms?!

Next up was a fairly meaty break (approximately 45 minutes) so I gathered my things and decided to start having a play with the conference workshops. I only managed to get through 30 minutes of the lab (before having to rush back to sessions) but I am going to do my best to try and do them all.

My next session stood out like a sore thumb and was right up my street. I watched “The Truth Behind Serverless” by Erica Windisch. I really enjoyed this session and Erica is quite clearly very passionate about the topic and also very knowledgeable. I would perhaps have like I few more real-world demos, but I left happy and enjoyed listening to yet another unique personality in the world of microservices. I look forward to watching other content by Erica in the near future.

My final session was a real toss up between “My journey to Go” (my #1 choice) by Ashley McNamara (although I later realised I have already watched this at Gophercon) and “Modernizing .NET Apps” with Elton Stoneman (w|t) and Iris Classon (w|t). The latter actually won through in the end for two reasons. The first being that Elton “encouraged” me to come to his session on Twitter which I thought was amusing and the second was because of Iris Classon. I don’t think Dockercon attendees realised (given that there was space available in the room), but Iris is a HUGE name in the world of .NET and has been for a very long time, but she is also an amazing person -as those who have followed her for a very long time will testify. This was actually my first ever time I’ve attended one of her sessions live (oh the shame), but I really enjoyed the experience. Both Iris and Elton worked really well as a partnership and despite one of their demos crashing and burning (which they both turned into a funny ending), it was very nicely delivered. As an aside, I think Iris must hold the Dockercon world record for saying “sh*t” in a presentation :). I definitely couldn’t get away with this, but there is something very endearing the way she does and I think her humor is very Monty Python -very much up my street!

At the end of the sessions, I had to do a rain check on the Dockercon party due to the small fact that I have a ton of stuff to do for Microsoft from the confines of my hotel room, so their gain was my loss. No matter, I had a brilliant day today and look forward to what tomorrow brings.

Other posts in this series
4 days of Dockercon – Day 4
4 days of Dockercon – Day 3
4 days of Dockercon – Day 1
4 days of Dockercon – Day 0

4 days of Dockercon – Day 1

It’s those little things in life that you come to be grateful for when you are staying in a different country and significantly helps make your trip more relaxing and enjoyable. A quick visit to Starbucks in the morning or being able to grab a half decent lunch in a nearby restaurant during the conference or simply popping into a nearby newsagent to grab a newspaper to read in your room in the evening just make the days away from home a little more bearable…

Sadly (for me) the hotel I am staying in is not only a good 15-20 minute walk from anywhere that fits these requirements, I am struggling to understand why there only seems to be only a single restaurant on site! If you are looking for a fast bite then forget it because this one is a fine dining experience (see 4 days of Dockercon – Day 0) and you will be looking at a minimum of a 2-hour eating experience. Given the hotel that I am staying in is joined to the conference venue, has a bedroom capacity of at least several thousand people, and the nearby area itself has a significant population (if the number of flats is any indication), the complete lack of nearby amenities is completely puzzling. Imagine for instance staying in the Seattle Sheraton hotel and then having to walk twice the distance from there to Pike Place Market to grab just a (decent) coffee! Yes that is exactly what I am facing but I’ll just have to learn to live with it.

Ok, so that is the moaning out of the way (for now at least) and today was Day 1 of Dockercon EU -or more precisely preconference workshop day. I awoke at 6.30 am, having burned the candle a little later than I intended (being the insomniac that I am) so I checked my emails and had a look at the Dockercon schedule. At first it appeared that all I needed to worry about was registration today, which was oddly running from 12 am onwards. Never mind I thought and grabbed another hour in bed…

When I woke again I decided to double check my emails and to my horror came across joining instructions for a Docker Workshop session! I was registered for the Swarm Orchestration: From Zero to Hero session, so hastily got washed and ready for my day ahead. My first hurdle was getting past the very long precon registration queue – which took approximately 15 minutes to get past! This process was a little odd given that organizers would have known how many people were attending and that the sessions were scheduled to start in minutes, but still it wasn’t quite as painful as it could have been.

As you might expect, pretty much the entire day was focused on Swarm management and deployment, and I felt that my registration fee was justified in minutes as we were given links to all training materials and more. The session was delivered in a hands-on style of “keep up if you can” which worked really well for the morning, but as the day went on (and the trainers delivery just got faster) I started to flag and fall behind. Most of the value for me was gained from the morning section, but at least I have the materials to go try this out at my leisure in private. I guess the area that I wished would have been covered (that was missing) was a discussion on (and comparison with) other orchestration and clustering platforms such as Kubernetes. That aside, it was a very worthwhile experience and the full value of attending is now down to me!

At the end of the day I decided that I needed to have an early night but was very hungry, so I bit the bullet and did my 20-minute walk to the shopping mall for a quite bite to eat. Tomorrow is the start of the main conference days -so I need my beauty sleep!

Other posts in this series
4 days of Dockercon – Day 4
4 days of Dockercon – Day 3
4 days of Dockercon – Day 2
4 days of Dockercon – Day 0

4 days of Dockercon – Day 0

It’s around this time of year that I’d usually begin blogging my traditional 5,6 or 7 days of PASS (another conference about another technology) and I have been doing this for at least 3-4 years (primarily as a speaker). This year, due to a multitude of reasons, I decided to pull my sessions just prior to selection after deciding that it really was time for me to do something different. Those people who know me quite well will know that I have harbored a very strong interest in Microservices and container technologies (long before they started getting “hip” in the world of Microsoft) and have had a bucket list desire to attend Dockercon since it’s inception.

This year, Dockercon was hosted in Austin, Texas and by all accounts was a great success, and whilst I came very close to attending, it was just not quite at the right time of year for me this time around. So when Dockercon EU was announced and to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark (the home of SQLNexus -an event that I help organize) it was a no-brainer for me to try and get here since I am already familiar with the place. After much deliberating about lost earnings and reward/ return I decided to bite the bullet and stop procrastinating. So here I am….

Yesterday was supposed to be my day to prepare but given I had a dog to take for numerous walks, and then one of my children decided to hang around, I got very little packing and prep done.

So this morning I awoke with a lot to do. The usual printing off boarding passes, hotel booking papers and trying to figure out how the hell to get from A to B was firmly in progress. The first obstacle of the day was to navigate the fact that no trains were running to the airport from Cambridge! Luckily there was a replacement bus service, so I headed out early and managed to catch the earlier service to the airport.

After jumping some of the queues with my priority ticket, and clearing security, I was in the airport lounge by 11.30am. Given my flight was 2.30pm, there was a fair bit of hanging around so I decided to head to Starbucks to charge my equipment for the flight ahead. The flight was fairly uneventful and I mostly knew my way around Copenhagen airport, so I picked up my luggage and headed for the trains in which I hoped to pick up a metro to the Bella Center. It was here where I made the mistake of changing my plans at the last minute after seeing a signpost to hotel transit -which I already knew would take me directly to the hotel. The only problem was that the walk to the pickup point turned into a short hike, leading me across to the other airport terminal! Furthermore, the bus did not arrive for another 15 to 20 mins (apparently we had just missed the previous bus).

By 5.45pm I had finally arrived at the hotel and decided to eat in their restaurant called BASALT since I really didn’t have the energy to venture any further. I treated myself to Beer, a fire-grilled leek cheese dish and medium rare Sirloin which Gordon Ramsey would have been proud of (although I’d probably have preferred slightly less Beetroot on it since it was quite powerful, and even the cherries had a job taking the full edge off it). But I left really full and satisfied -and who can complain at that!

Tomorrow is the first full day out Dockercon. I’m really looking forward to it and ticking off one more bucket item from the list!

Other posts in this series
4 days of Dockercon – Day 4
4 days of Dockercon – Day 3
4 days of Dockercon – Day 2
4 days of Dockercon – Day 1

Why you should attend TUGAIT

TugaIT is an annual event held in Lisbon, Portugal and is in its second year, having first run in 2016. The conference brings together all that is great about the Microsoft Data Platform and beyond, embracing the following areas:

  • Microsoft Data Platform
  • Open-Source Data Platform
  • SharePoint
  • Office 365
  • Enterprise Integration
  • Microsoft Azure (both IaaS and PaaS)
  • Development Methodologies (Agile, Scrum, Kanban, TDD, DDD, …)
  • Programming & Professional Development
  • DevOps

The event is a mammoth 3 days techno-fest consisting of an incredible set of Workshops on Thursday, May 18th and the Friday consists of a 5 track schedule and an awesome full-day workshop with Slava Oks discussing SQL Server on Linux!

After that whirlwind two days of serious content, you are going to need to relax a little more, so the Saturday reverts to a more traditional 8 track agenda -yes, you heard that right!!! 8 Tracks!!!!).

So if my math is correct, I make this 8 workshops and 76 sessions to attend over 3 days -which is clearly going to tick every single box you need it to.

Q. But is it any good?

I was fortunate to attend TUGAIT last year and it was a fantastic experience. The Portuguese Community go out of their way to make you feel welcome, and the venue itself is excellent since it is hosted within the Microsoft Portugal premises. More importantly, there is an amazing selection of speakers from around the world on offer including Microsoft Product managers, MVPs, MCMs and community experts.

For me, the stand out workshop of the lot is “Bringing SQL Server Experience to Linux” by Slava Oks who has been working at Microsoft to make this amazing dream come to reality. I had the pleasure of seeing Slava deliver a fantastic insight into this project during the MVP Summit late last year, and it is, therefore, no surprise to me that TugaIT were keen to get him over to Portugal.

Q. How easy is it to get there?

If you are traveling to Lisbon from outside of Portugal, the journey is about as easy as it can get. From the UK it takes only a couple of hours to get there from any of the major airports (including Stansted) and after landing you can hop straight onto the metro to within walking distance of your hotel and venue. Awesome right?!

In closing, I would strongly recommend that you take the opportunity to attend this event and see all the wonderful speakers on offer. And if you get tired, you can always relax by the river with a glass of wine in hand whilst you recharge your batteries!

3 days to SQL Nexus

It is amazing to think that SQL Nexus is just days around the corner after all these months of discussion and preparation by the excellent SQL Nexus team. This year is looking like it will be even better than ever and we are really excited by our pre-conference and main conference speakers and sessions, and if you are coming we hope you enjoy them.

Since today is realistically your last day to book if you are coming via your company purse, I thought it might be helpful to discuss some of my favorite pre-con picks -if you are still struggling to make up your mind.

Microsoft Western Europe Blackbelt (Technical Solution Processional) – Anders Lybecker
This pre-con session title is perhaps a little misleading, and you really have to read through the abstract to see what is being delivered, but when you do, you will see that this is a really interesting IoT session. Most IoT sessions are a bit like a doughnut – a little sickly sweet and with a big hole in the middle, but this session really is “Jam filled!” and with lots of hands-on-labs, streaming analytics and cross platform focus, could well be one of those sessions you look back on and be grateful you attended.

The Complete Primer to SQL Server Virtualization by David Klee
I first met David early last year in Chicago and after a discussion with him about SQL Server virtualization it was clear he was the go to man on this subject (especially in VMware environments). I have heard lots of great feedback about this session from many attendees so it could be one not to miss!

Design & Implement SQL Server HA/DR Hybrid Solutions with Microsoft Azure – Edwin Sarmiento
Edwin’s enthusiasm is infectious and he is perhaps one of the most fastidious and hard working people I know. If you are looking to learn more about HADR in both on-premises and in the Cloud, then you cannot go wrong by attending this session!

Enterprise Data Integration with Biml by Reeves Smith
While every single one of the pre-cons look awesome, I am currently doing a lot of work with SSIS, and therefore Biml is very much on my list of things I need to get good at. I have known Reeves for many years and he is perhaps one of the funniest people I know (as well as being a subject matter expert in Biml), so this is probably my favorite of the bunch for those reasons.

If none of these appeal, you should check out the others, and don’t forget to check out the main agenda which is also super awesome.

Hope to see you there!