Over the past 2 years, I've seen many events in our industry take a shot at delivering a virtual experience.
Let's face it, though, virtual events are not the same. Why?
You miss "The Hallway Track". This is the name of the informal chats outside of the formal talk tracks.
This is where you meet up with your colleagues and share recaps of the last sessions you just attended.
Or you grab one of the speakers after their talk and ask a couple more questions about the subject that they just passionately spoke about.
Or you visit vendor booths and get their view on how they see the world and see if it aligns with what you're working on.
Or you see someone sitting alone at a table for lunch, you decide to sit down and make an effort to get to know someone new.
I've done all of these things and I know that this is where I have learned the most. For two years, we lost the opportunity to fully experience The Hallway Track.
When I saw that NGINX was sponsoring GlueCon 2022 and saw how well the agenda aligned with my areas of technical focus, I immediately made a case to get out there. And now having just gotten back and reflecting on my experience there, I can say I was extremely happy that GlueCon was my first time back at an in-person conference.
GlueCon is a unique conference in that it is focused on delivering high-quality technical content to developers. They don't want the sales pitches, even though I could see hints of sales pitches were snuck in to some presentations but done in a tasteful way (let's face it, the vendors need to justify the sponsorship money that funds a lot of the conference so let's give them a minute so they're inspired to invest more in future).
The talks this year ranged from APIs, Observability, Serverless Technologies, Authentication, Service Mesh, Developer Tools and even some Blockchain and Web3.
There were also some interesting high level talks on Cloud-Native Organizations and Product Managing Your Infrastructure.
What I took away from the event is that developers have a few big things they worry about.
Getting code to work in the first place
Getting code up and running on their infrastructure
Observability of the application and keeping it safe and secure
What this also means is that developers do not have the time to mess around with solutions that are a burden to implement. There is incredible pressure to deliver on time and they need solutions that "Just Works" whether that's accomplished through great documentation, great example code or great service/support.
This was confirmed by the conversations I was having with individuals. By looking them in the eye when they shared horror stories of sleepless nights and failed deploys. By listening to their specific needs before I said anything about our own products to them. By trying to relate in whatever way I could to their day to day lives in the trenches.
Doing this in person is difficult to replace even if you have every tool available to you so I look forward to meeting up with some of you one day for The Hallway Track.
P.S. Here's some of the videos I've created from the week: