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I analyzed 218 booths at KubeCon - here are the DevOps trends for 2023

Updated: Jun 9

TL;DR

  • Buzzwords and trends: Increased emphasis on human factors, hiring, automation, and scale. The word 'platform' saw a significant rise in use, while 'cost' became more critical in decision processes.

  • Booth content: The average number of words per booth was 20.3, with a range from 0 to 131 words.

  • Retention and participation: Of the 626 companies that attended at least one of the three recent major events, 47 attended all three, 109 attended two, and 470 attended just one. KubeCon had a retention rate of 40%.

  • International presence: Non-US companies were twice as common at KubeCon Amsterdam compared to Detroit. Bay Area still dominating.


Another fantastic KubeCon event has come and gone, this time taking place in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. As I did for KubeCon North America in Detroit (click here for the full Detroit article) I've once again meticulously analyzed the vendor booths to uncover the latest trends and buzzwords in the DevOps world.


But this time, I'm adding an extra layer of depth by comparing the findings from Amsterdam with those from Detroit just six months prior. Were there any noticeable differences between the two events? Did regional nuances affect the trends I observed? Or have we witnessed any significant shifts within this relatively short timeframe?


I'll also shed light on the digital buzz surrounding the event and showcase some of the most intriguing booth setups. In particular I will highlight some of the companies that were at both KubeCons and re:Invent Las Vegas 2022 and how their booths evolved.


Let’s dive in.


If you find this helpful, others will too - so please share it!

cute cat gif



Here are some of the startup booths (don't get stuck, it's a looping gif, you can see all the booths here):

gif of kubecon europe 2023 startup booths

And here are some of the bigger sponsors (click here for the entire library of images):


gif of kubecon europe 2023 vendor booths

Trends

What are the up-and-coming tools, best practices and philosophies? Let’s start with a simple word cloud of all the text elements of every booth at KubeCon Europe 2023:

wordcloud of all booth messages at kubecon europe 2023 in amsterdam

Trends from KubeCon Amsterdam:

  • Three companies used mental health / soft factors as the key branding of their booths: humanitec with 'DevOps burnout is real', lightlytics with 'K8s minus the stress' and Mirantis with 'Treat your devs better'. Not sure if the world is changing or these companies adjusted to Europe.

  • More booths were just there for hiring (Adyen, booking.com, ING).

  • 'Automation' and 'automate' are used a bit more often than in Detroit - but still not in the top 15. How is that possible?

  • Last time I mentioned that 'scale' was mentioned 16 times. Well, that went up to 29 🚀

  • I was also able to make a more in-depth comparison to Detroit. Below you see that:

  • In Amsterdam there were 1516 unique words used on booths while in Detroit there were 1641. Almost the same. But in Amsterdam 34% more unique words were used on the booths and vendors picked more unique ones more often (hence 'cloud' and 'kubernetes' have lower counts).

  • Most interesting, but expected change: 'cost' is on the rise.

  • 'Platform' is the only word that has even seen a strong net gain in mentions.

15 most common terms at kubecon europe 2023 in amsterdam booths compared to kubecon detroit

It seems that 2023 will be a direct continuation of 2022 focusing on security, scaling and Kubernetes day 2 operations management - after all that's the biggest challenge since adoption has plateaued and or is growing only slowly (According to CNCF’s 2021 Annual Survey, 96% of organizations are either using or evaluating Kubernetes). Compared to 6 months ago, "cost" has moved to play a more central role in decision processes.


Buzz

KubeCon 2023 was a hybrid event. So, here are some stats around the digital buzz accompanying this year’s event and the 4613 twitter users who tweeted about it.

# of vendor tweets and retweets at kubecon europe 2023 in amsterdam

credits @EMA Research


Booth setup

Going through all these booths, I noticed that some truly stood out, so I made a few rankings. These are the booths you would’ve stopped by, had you had more time to explore the solutions showcase (even if you had no clue what the company is offering):


Cutest logo (that wasn't on the list last time, sorry, Snyk)


kong logo

The fastest cloud native API platform.


acorn logo

A simple application deployment framework for Kubernetes.


calyptia logo

Manage and configure telemetry pipelines with point-and-click ease.


Most memorable statement


kubiya.ai logo

"ChatGPT for DevOps"

Kubiya.ai


Well yeah, ChatGPT for DevOps that lives in Slack or Teams.


humanitec logo

"DevOps burnout is real"

humanitec


A platform that enables software development teams to easily build, deploy, and manage cloud-native applications and services.

Most creative

Robusta.dev


​Monitor Kubernetes the right way

Your CEO can't join? Natan always finds a way ;)


robusta booth at kubecon europe 2023 in amsterdam

Clastix


Avoid cluster sprawl with a unique multi-tenant architecture and operate Kubernetes as a hyperscaler

Doubling down on the "cluster buster" design from Detroit - and Dario wearing a ghost buster outfit


dario in front of clastix booth at kubecon europe 2023 in amsterdam

Komodor


Kubernetes

for Humans

The best afterparty in town - and 'Groot Cause' stickers (view them in our library of all booths)



Fullstaq


Dutch cloud-native IT Services company that helps both start-ups and enterprises realize their Kubernetes ambitions.

Huge VR experience zone


Fullstaq activation zone at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam

Partner Passport: Go visit 8 other booths to collect stickers and redeem them for a two factor authorization key at the Google Cloud booth


google cloud developer passport

Kubiya


ChatGPT for DevOps

A funny photo wall (and a dancing robot; and probably the only company that brought swag that was banned - if you know, you know)


Kubiya.ai booth with funny LinkedIn banner at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam

Cosmonic


A lightweight, low-boilerplate platform that simplifies the development lifecycle

Brought a gigantic screen bigger than their booth #lifehack


cosmonic booth at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam

AWS


Something with cloud

Minigolf checking all the Netherlands stereotypes: flowers, wind mills, bikes and no mountains ;)


AWS booth at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam

In Detroit, Ford brought a Mustang Mach E. In Amsterdam Mercedes brought their EQL limousine and two EQV electric camper vans to hangout in


Mercedes-Benz booth with EQL at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam

Portworx

Kubernetes storage platform

​A booth that is a scene from Venice. Reminded me of re:Invent / Las Vegas


portworx booth at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam


I also took a look at the booth setup stats - despite having more options for screen sizes in Amsterdam, fewer companies opted for a TV.

# of booths with and without tv graph at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam

And what did the booths say? Well, some, like LaunchDarkly, kept it to just their logo. Others put entire essays:


Average words per booth: 20.3 (in Detroit it was only 17)

Range of words per booth: 0 to 131 (in Detroit it was 0 to 142)


Here is the number of sponsors according to their sponsoring type:


# of booths per sponsoring category graph at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam

Retention

Having written similar articles for re:Invent 2022 and KubeCon Detroit 2023, here are some fun facts about companies' behavior:

  1. A total of 626 companies joined at least one of the three conferences

  2. 47 companies joined all three events

  3. 109 joined two events

  4. 470 joined just one

  5. 116 joined both KubeCon events, so KubeCon has a retention rate of just 40%. The geographic distance will account for much of that. Companies like Fullstaq had two big booths in Amsterdam but weren't even present in Detroit as they are focussed on the Netherlands / Europe.


Let's look at the evolution of booths across conferences:

HashiCorp's booth evolution

That Re:Invent booth could pay for a Platinum booth at every KubeCon until 2035 or so.


Armory's booth evolution

Logz.io booth evolution

I like the progression towards "Don't h8 your K8s" by logz.io

CircleCI's booth evolution

Teleport's booth evolution

Teleport seems to focus on ROI: Get The big booth at KubeCon for far less. Nice.


Uptyc's booth evolution

Spot by NetApp's booth evolution


Countries

Were you also curious about how many international companies were at KubeCon? The United States still dominated, but non-US companies were twice as common compared to KubeCon Detroit (where they only made up 17% of all sponsoring companies).


# of sponsors at KubeCon Europe 2023

But let's dig a little deeper. Interestingly, the Bay area accounted for more than half of all US companies present. Talk about Silicon Valley dying..


# of sponsors by country at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam

But looking at a graph like this we might as well conclude that Indonesia is wealthier than Iceland, because they have more millionaires. What really matters is putting numbers into perspective. Here I took population size into account:


sponsors per 10 million inhabitants  at KubeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam

Israel is a curious space. Also, all these companies are in just one area: Tel Aviv metropolitan area. However, keep in mind that the Bay area brought 116 companies per 10 million inhabitants to KubeCon - which would just ruin the graph.


Sponsoring tiers were also more equally distributed. In Detroit zero non-US companies were higher than silver sponsors. At KubeCon Europe that was a bit more diverse, with e.g. Huawei being a diamond sponsor.


Want more? Click here to access the raw database of all companies, their booth photos and more.


Did I miss something?

Feel free to send me any missing booths, trends, companies or insights to jan@uptime.build


Get the analysis of all 400+ KubeCon 2023 talks

This was just an analysis of the booths - if you are curious about the agenda items (i.e. what those 400+ talks and sessions were about), then you can leave your email here and I’ll email you the blog post:


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