Kubecon 2023 Chicago – Kubernetes Has Crossed the Chasm

Kubecon 2023 Shows the Success of Kubernetes and Containers with Enterprise Adoption

Kubecon 2023 Chicago – Kubernetes Has Crossed the Chasm

We recently attended the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) Kubecon North American 2023 conference in Chicago with about 9,000 attendees. About a 30% uptick in attendance from 2022, including a significant number of newbies to the show. Some stated about half were new.

What is new is an acknowledgement that Kubernetes/Containers has crossed the chasm, wherein the adoption has hit the early majority or commonly called the pragmatists. Technology at this point is often seen as a whole product, with successful, scaled deployments. However, there were several themes and acknowledgement of work to be done. As the community faces the next stage of maturity, it will need to address:

  1. Complexity
  2. Security
  3. Resilience
  4. Talent


First, it was fully acknowledged that the world of deployment is complex and that developers, at least the latest ones on board, want to code, not mess with the technical underpinnings. Second, rationalizing the myriad of open source projects, vendor offerings, and options is not easy. Third, as you scale, the environment increases in complexity (duh!).

There are many approaches to address this complexity. One is platform engineering (PE) and a managed environment with guardrails for developers. PE is the latest, commonly coming from an architect, SRE, or highly experienced IT operations admin. Managed environment means somewhere a future state has been defined. There is interest in curated solutions – beyond Red Hat OpenShift or SUSE Rancher, that are full stack offerings. Whereas someone has worked to either rationalize the open source projects or done work to streamline the installation and Day2 operations.

Third, guardrails for the basics are needed by developers, everything from databases to data protection to security settings. Selection required but no coding is needed to set up. Shopify talked about strong guardrails on a wide path, which was echoed by Intuit where developers were the infrastructure managers and now infrastructure management is desired.


Open source will continue to fight the battle of “open source is not secure.” However, the CNCF project graduation process has implemented significant improvements to security audits. Thus, adopting a graduated project has a level of assurance of secure code. We will still see the introduction of code that is not graduated, and there will still be patches and changes that need to happen in the graduated ones. That brings us back to the complexity and managed or curated/supported stack and why I see the need for engaging with the stack suppliers that have the tested and support plan to keep code current. For the chasm crossers, this engagement will be a necessity.


The applications delivered by Kubernetes/Containers have become mainstream. And when you have 100s of clusters and 1000s of apps, availability, disaster recovery, and protection are necessary insurance plans for projects. How this resilience is implemented is different from a virtual machine (VM) or straight database deployment and requires new and different tools. It also requires new and different observability. The show floor was filled with all sorts of new technologies to address these requirements. My peer, Steven Dickens, spent the time going from orchestration to orchestration, until such time they all ran together. It will be new PEs gameplan to sort this out over time.


Nothing new here in talent shortage, but these are new skills. This skill set is getting especially tricky as Kubernetes is the platform used by AI. Mix in data scientists, developers, and PEs, and IT has issues of scale. CNCF has rolled out a lot training courses, and new ones called “associates” for those just getting into the technology.

Wrapping Up

My last commentary is on the keynote by Tim Hockin of Google in which he talked about the next 10 years, describing Kubernetes as having grown up but still not being fully grown. From his presentation, there were some exciting yet sobering observations from his peers. “The next trillion core hours” is AL/machine learning (ML). “Inference is the new web app” and “AI/ML will drive compute resource usage and requirement to manage workloads effectively and efficiently.” If Kubernetes is the AI platform (and it is) in this new world, then we have some definite work to do as a community. Congrats on a great show CNCF, now that the kid has grown up, we have hit the hard teenage years.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

Unlocking the Gate to Digital Transformation – Research Study

Dell Red Hat Validated Design Focuses on AI

Nutanix: One Platform to Run Kubernetes and AI Anywhere – Futurum Tech Webcast

Author Information

Camberley brings over 25 years of executive experience leading sales and marketing teams at Fortune 500 firms. Before joining The Futurum Group, she led the Evaluator Group, an information technology analyst firm as Managing Director.

Her career has spanned all elements of sales and marketing including a 360-degree view of addressing challenges and delivering solutions was achieved from crossing the boundary of sales and channel engagement with large enterprise vendors and her own 100-person IT services firm.

Camberley has provided Global 250 startups with go-to-market strategies, creating a new market category “MAID” as Vice President of Marketing at COPAN and led a worldwide marketing team including channels as a VP at VERITAS. At GE Access, a $2B distribution company, she served as VP of a new division and succeeded in growing the company from $14 to $500 million and built a successful 100-person IT services firm. Camberley began her career at IBM in sales and management.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business from California State University – Long Beach and executive certificates from Wellesley and Wharton School of Business.


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