Back from Devoxx France 2022: what I loved, what I learned, what I loathed
On April 20 2022, I attended the Devoxx France conference at Palais des Congrès de Paris.
If you haven’t heard of it, it is probably the most anticipated developer conference in France. It is a 3 day event that takes place every year, with more than 3,000 attendees (and that doesn’t include organizers, speakers, sponsors, etc.), and 8 to 12 parallel tracks!
This year was a very special one for two reasons:
- after two years of COVID, the 2022 conference was back to full attendance
- it was the 10th year edition of Devoxx France
With this in mind, there was a lot of anticipation about the event and I was very grateful that one of my talks had been chosen by the CFP (aka Call For Paper) board.
It was also my first time attending this conference so even if I had been to other dev conferences before, I didn’t exactly know what to expect.
So if you want to see Devoxx through my newbie eyes and read about what I loved, learned and loathed, then this post is meant for you. Buckle up!
Note: I’m only sharing my experience as an attendee in this post, but if you want to know more about my talk Ciel ! Mon Kubernetes mine des bitcoins !, you can watch it here.
What I loved
Obviously at a conference like this with more than 200 talks, you can’t see everything. Devoxx talks are very diverse and (I think) you should use this opportunity to attend talks on topics you wouldn’t research otherwise.
Being a professional in infrastructure/SRE topics, I tried to attend talks that weren’t just about “cloud”, “devops” or simply “dev”. And there were many times I was glad I did.
I really liked the talk Rendez l’agilité aux développeur(se)s ! by Fanny Klauk, which was sort of a choose-your-own-adventure experience featuring an agile team. It was super easy to relate to and quite funny, and it made all of us reflect on the way we work in our own agile teams.
I loved the energy of Quentin Adam and Pierre Beyssac in Comprendre les enjeux de consommation de ressource et d’énergie dans le secteur numérique. This talk aims to put emotions aside and stay rational on the (real) climatic issues at bay by looking at only the facts and listening to what science tells us.
Finally, I was really moved by the keynote of LesBonsclics, une plateforme pédagogique au service du 1er réseau européen d’aidants numériques. The goal of this project led by wetechcare is to bring more digital inclusiveness — a subject I believe is very important in the digital age.
Extra bonus points awarded to Cécile Morange who, at the age of 21, owns a mini data center (including her very own Autonomous System Number) and explained to a big audience of senior developers what “the cloud” is and why maintaining infrastructure is not so easy with a lot of pedagogy.
Aside from conferences, there were lots of exhibitions and sponsors. One of them stood out: Technosaures, a retro computing magazine (1970–1990). Many ancient machines were exhibited and François Tonic was very didactic and passionate about his collection.
What I learned
A reason why I came to Devoxx was to learn a few more tricks from my peers, so I was really happy to join the talk Pourquoi DevOps ne tient pas ses promesses ? by Gérôme Egron and Guillaume Mathieu. It provided a lot of insight into why sometimes the objective of Devops (i.e. closing the gap between product and operational teams) is not met. As a SRE CoP (Community of Practice) leader, I too advocate most of the advice they gave but from the Ops side. Seeing it from the other side of the mirror — the Dev side — was interesting.
Doctolib’s David Gageot and Bertrand Paquet spoke about big managed cloud databases and the scalability issues they faced during the COVID-19 crisis (Doctolib a besoin d’une base de données plus puissante. Ok, mais laquelle?) I appreciated that they were transparent about the failures they experienced.
Cybersécurité et générateurs de nombres aléatoires by Mathis Hammel was a (nice) surprise. I hadn’t planned to go at first but it turned out to be a fun and instructive postmortem on a gigantic CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) in the password generator of a world renowned antivirus company.
Of course, I couldn’t attend Devoxx and not see a few talks about Kubernetes (my day to day job). I enjoyed Qu’avons-nous appris après un an passé à développer des opérateurs Kubernetes ? by Etienne Coutaud, who provided a return on experience about writing Kubernetes Operator to manage complex infrastructure in a fully automated way for a PaaS (Platform as a Service).
What I loathed
To be honest, the word “loathe” is too strong and inaccurate in this case as I didn’t “hate” anything in particular at the conference. However there are definitely some things I wished had not happened.
The organizers of the conference did their very best to avoid it. Antibacterial gel was available and people were advised to wear a mask everywhere (though it was not mandatory according to French regulations).
But the truth is that COVID-19 is still here.
A few speakers couldn’t make it to the conference because they tested positive. Many attendees did a self test before coming… but a few people, including friends of mine, caught COVID-19 at the conference. Luckily, as far as I know, none showed heavy symptoms, but it’s a reminder of how fragile the sanitary situation still is.
We will have to learn to live with it, somehow.
I thoroughly enjoyed many other talks at this conference but I couldn’t possibly list them all in a single blog post. You can find all the videos of this edition on the Devoxx Youtube channel.
I saw lots of friends and ex-colleagues, and spoke with passionate professionals coming from everywhere in France (and beyond).
The whole organization team was incredible and truly professional — and made up entirely of volunteers! I can’t thank them enough, both for believing in my talk and for organizing such an awesome event overall.
Devoxx really is an excellent conference and I can’t wait to go back next year.