QCon has been hosted by InfoQ in 11 years in a row. It attracts a lot of engineers from all other the world. All famous brands like IBM, Oracle, Google, Netflix, LinkedIn etc. tend to have at least few talks there. QCon describes itself as a conference for senior engineers with emphasize on practical approaches. As a InfoQ reader I decided to give a try for its San Francisco version.
This year QCon hosted 175 speaker across 18 tracks! I’ve visited three days of presentations and three workshops. To be honest I wasn’t very comfortable with how crowded this conference was – more then 1600 people registered! I’ve been only on one US conference before – AWS Community Summit 2017 – so I don’t qualify to give grades, but in my opinion the organization and IT infrastructure was much above my understanding of “standard”. Even breakfasts/lunches were thought trough so people don’t need to stay a lot in the lines.
The material quality and its diversity was pretty good and some times surprising. I was also impressed by the number of “big” companies playing as sponsors and speakers. I attended sessions hosted by IBM, LinkedIn, Oracle, Reddit, Docker, AWS. There were two exhibition rooms were you could talk to engineers/managers from Microsoft, Pivotal, MySQL, Vaadin, AppDynamics, Azul, RedisLab, MongoDB! There were pretty long breaks between sessions (25 minutes) where you could share your thoughts with either presenters or your college engineers. I personally met with engineers from Canada, Norway, Poland, Netherlands, US Cincinnati, US Texas, Russia and Ukraine!
Hypes and Buzzwords
Some say that QCon is an indicator for new “big things” and that QCon have spread the “Microservises” hype first. Based on 2017 track titles and there popularity (by votes) Microservices is still a #1 buzzword: I counted more then 20 sessions mentioning “microservice” or “service” word! The next big thing this time was Chaos Engineering: Chaos Architecture got The Best Attended mark! And I would give #3 for Serverless and Containers because those themes were very connected to Microservices.
I have never attended large conferences before and it was essential to me to try one of the best and understand the importance and role conferences play in day-to-day life of any engineer. And… I am confused. I am not disappointed, no. I just proved to myself low usefulness and minimal feedback from a conference if you treat them wrong. I will try to elaborate on that statement. Basically in the Internet era everything can be found and learn from online resources. Literary every thing! Services like Coursera or Udemy will even force you to learn stuff b/c you payed your hard own money for that 🙂 So if you were looking for “new” material and “secret” knowledge you’d be very disappointed. The true meaning is to share knowledge and give or receive feed backs! So the real pearls of any conference are Open Spaces or “Ask Me Anything” sessions where you can get “secret” or even “sacred” knowledge from authors, maintainers or early adopters! Though it doesn’t mean conference useless if you do only presentations and workshops. It still can be very useful for anyone who can’t or don’t want to track all changes in IT world via Internet. Or if you want to hear/try something completely different, something out of your daily duties. I think there is also another benefit: just to make sure that you (and your company) are not insane and you are doing right thing e.g. using right frameworks, tools, databases etc.