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KubeCon 2020 preview: Session guide for Kubernetes beginners

Want expert advice to kick off a container and Kubernetes implementation at your company? Many of the sessions at KubeCon North America are made for you.

With more than a dozen technical tracks and hundreds of sessions, KubeCon + CloudNativeCon can prove daunting to a Kubernetes beginner. But as a low-cost virtual event in 2020, the conference presents a unique opportunity for Kubernetes adopters to learn from experts and experienced users before they configure their first pod.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation hosts KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America, taking place online November 17-20. CNCF manages the open source Kubernetes project, and offers Kubernetes training and certifications, in addition to KubeCon.

Here's a look at some of the sessions that should appeal to Kubernetes newcomers. The conference includes a 101 track and most, but not all, of the sessions highlighted here fall into that track.

Editor's note: If you're more experienced with Kubernetes, check out our KubeCon session roundups for intermediate users and advanced users.


Conference keynotes tend to provide a state of the union: where the technology is today, how it got there and where it is going. For first-time KubeCon attendees, keynotes are especially helpful. Speakers will offer updates on Kubernetes and other CNCF projects and discuss what the disruption of 2020 means in the context of cloud-native technologies.

The Quest for the Ultimate Kubernetes Homelab

Kubernetes is a complex technology. Don't learn it on production servers. Homelabs provide a place to get things wrong while learning. This session focuses on the enterprise IT professional, offering a homelab with x86 hardware, autoscaling, networking and stateful services. Pick up Kubernetes implementation and automation skills in a no-risk environment, then apply them to enterprise projects. Presenter Dan Garfield is chief technology evangelist and VP of marketing at Codefresh, a CI/CD platform vendor. Learn more about the session here.

Tutorial: Migration 101: From VMs to Kubernetes

A hands-on tutorial sounds intimidating for someone new to Kubernetes, but this session is designed for container beginners. It covers a migration from VM hosting to Docker containers managed with Kubernetes, including routing, app logs and metrics for monitoring, and operations management.

Presenter Luke Kysow, senior engineer at HashiCorp, works on Consul's Kubernetes integration and manages an open source Terraform CI/CD tool. Learn more about the session here.

Making the Business Case for Contributing to Open Source

Kubernetes, Prometheus, Envoy, Jaeger and the list goes on -- anywhere you look in the container ecosystem, you'll find open source technology. If your organization is starting a container implementation, this might be its first foray into a largely open source tool set. Get insights into the value of active open source use and contribution, especially if you need to convince leadership to embrace it. This session will also profile various open source strategies that could be the basis for your own approach.

Presenter Tobie Langel is the principal at UnlockOpen, a consulting firm that helps large organizations build an open source culture. Learn more about the session here.

A Walk Through the Kubernetes UI Landscape

An intuitive GUI can flatten the learning curve on Kubernetes. There are plenty of UIs to choose from, and this session will cover many, including Kubernetes Dashboard, Lens, Octant, Kubernetes Web View and Headlamp. Learn how these dashboards work, what they're best suited to and which one might accelerate your Kubernetes adoption and management in development and operations.

This session is co-presented by Joaquim Rocha and Henning Jacobs. Rocha is the director of product engineering at Kinvolk, working on the company's UI and managed service offerings. Jacobs is senior principal engineer at Zalando SE, an online fashion and lifestyle platform. Learn more about the session here.

Everything You Should Be Doing, But Aren't: DevSecOps for K8s Workflows

Stretch your limits with a session that combines hands-on CNCF project use with best practices and overarching principles for Kubernetes implementation. This session could help you avoid common security mistakes and give your company confidence while adopting a new technology for production workloads. The session includes a live demonstration with a secure Kubernetes cluster, and walks through key DevSecOps principles. Get a glimpse into real-world application security, configuration management, threat detection and post-mortem investigation, as well as governance as code.

This session is co-presented by Steven Terrana and Dan "POP" Papandrea. Terrana is a chief engineer at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. Papandrea is the field CTO for Sysdig, a security and monitoring vendor. Learn more about the session here.

A full list of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America sessions, with times and hosting platform, is available on the conference website. All sessions offer live speaker Q&A, but will also be recorded, so you can view them at a later date.

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